“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” - Diane Ackerman
LEGO® Serious Play® was developed in the corporate sector in the mid-1990s (Roos & Victor, 2018), building on earlier work combining technology and LEGO® (Harel & Papert, 1991). There is growing interest in this methodology across higher education, where LEGO® is used as a mediator, allowing complex conceptual ideas to be visualised, built and thus made more tangible (James, 2013; Nerantzi & Despard, 2014). Workshops are inherently safe, tactile and fun for participants, with individuals/groups sharing and developing their learning.
The core elements of any LSP workshop are: POSE questions in the form of build tasks, the participants then CONSTRUCT in the form of abstract or literal builds, all participants are given the opportunity to SHARE their story and finally the whole group REFLECTS. The tactile nature of the blocks encourages construction, but learning is not limited to the process of building. Rather, sharing the stories and metaphors behind the builds are the richest source of learning.
Practically, the average workshop is between one and half and two hours, up to two days, with approximately a dozen participants. However, flexible solutions can be accommodated for less time and more participants. Regardless of length and numbers each session consists of an initial build to allow everyone to become familiar with the bricks and the format of LSP (technical skills build), an individual build followed by a group build.
Some of the many pedagogic advantages of this novel approach include:
- Confidence building across cultural, disciplinary and language boundaries
- Solve problems creatively
- Reflection – focus is on the process of creation, rather than the product
- Reinforcing meaning through distance/size/scale of models
- Developing teamwork and shared Community of Practice
- Therapeutic due to the tactile nature
Sample student feedback
“Things like the lego tutorial i found very good in a way that it showed that subconsciously my peers are thinking the same things and me and i’m not the only one feeling a little stressed at times.”
“I enjoyed the LEGO tutorial most. It definitely was a nice way of “breaking the ice” so to speak. I met some of the girls with whom I interact most in this session. It was also a great way of reflecting on self as well.”
“I thought the LEGO workshop was very clever. It was a new experience and an enjoyable challenge as it required me to visualise my thoughts and to delve deeper than what I sculpted out of the lego blocks. Although unconventional, I felt that it really helped with getting to know other people and get a glimpse of their backgrounds.
“Before starting … i was quite nervous, the LEGO workshop allowed me to easily meet and begin to build friendships with individuals in my year group in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. Whilst also getting to meet one of my lecturers, gain knowledge on eportfolio and practice skills of communication and teamwork.”
The International Journal of Management and Applied Research Special issue: Discovering Innovative Applications of LEGO® in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education outlines in more detail examples of recent work in higher education.
Example scenarios include:
- Courses or professional settings involving reflective practice
- Introducing people such as student induction, international student networking, new teams
- Problem solving
- Team building
- Strategy planning
- Identifying simple guiding principles or values
- Professional identity
- Clarifying complex scenarios
Many of the advantages outlined above can be achieved by any 3D material, however, LEGO affords the ability to build both up and out easily, and is fast and clean to tidy away, store and reuse. Overall, the workshops provide a safe environment for people to create story and share, at times very personal thoughts and experiences – all questions and comments are directed to the model built rather than the person. All participants have an equal voice, and if someone is not ready to share there is no pressure put upon them. Crucially, during a workshop everyone in the room will be leaning in and engaged rather than leaning back and passive.
To find out more or request a demonstration please contact Clare Thomson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 9036 6126.
Harel I, Papert S. (1991) Constructionism. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex
James, A. (2013). Lego Serious Play: a three-dimensional approach to learning development. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education (6)
Nerantzi, C. and Despard, C. (2014). Do LEGO® Models Aid Reflection in Learning and Teaching Practice?. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 2(2).
Roos, J. and Victor, B. (2018) “How It All Began: The Origins Of LEGO® Serious Play®”, International Journal of Management and Applied Research, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 326-343. https://doi.org/10.18646/2056.54.18-025