Playing in a Pandemic: How Playful Pedagogies Support Higher Learning, Connection and Emotional Survival - Sponsored by akaCRM

Thursday, May 20 | 4:15PM–5:15PM ET
Session Type: General Session
Delivery Format: Live Session

Interest in play-based and playful practices is on the rise in colleges and universities internationally, and there is increasing research into the use and efficacy of such practices. Compared to creativity or innovation, however, the word “play” still strikes terror into the hearts of some in academia who feel it trivializes or misuses time. The truth is infinitely more complex. This keynote will report on a two-year funded research project into the use and value of play in higher education and will share experiences, ideas, and examples of how to enhance “serious” teaching and learning through play.

While play has been naturally accepted as part of the stages of human development from child to adolescent, it has not been, and still is not, universally accepted as a normal part of adult learning. There has, however, been a shift in the past decade in feelings about and practices using play as part of higher education. Play-related festivals, conferences, events, and activities have proliferated. Examples of playful pedagogic practices have become increasingly visible through publication, as in the international collection The Power of Play in HE: Creativity in Tertiary Learning (James and Nerantzi, 2019). There are still those who assert that association with play demeans the status of their program and their own scholarly reputation; others challenge this position vigorously. In this keynote I will share practices and perspectives from across the disciplines, interwoven with play theory and drawing on my current research exploring the value of play in higher education. I will argue that our views about the appropriateness of play are deeply rooted in our own value systems, and linked, among other things, to our beliefs about our roles as educators and the nature and purpose of the higher education institution.



  • Alison James

    Professor Emerita, The University of Winchester