The Role Of Play In Learning New Things

The Role Of Play In Learning New Things

How Does Play Factor Into Learning New Things?

If you’ve ever taught–or even just watched someone learn something new–the role of play in learning is fascinating.

While receiving instruction in a formal learning environment, the tone of learning is a mix of nerves, confusion, directives, and  compliance. And worse, instead of a direct line from learner to content, there is a triangle of interaction between the user, the content, and the teacher.

When learners “play,” everything shifts, and with that perceptible shift comes a bounty of potential for learning.

Here learners are able to directly interact with content without the intrusion of monitoring, assessment, or having to decipher “teacher messages.” When this happens, there is more willingness to experiment, to understand, to follow curiosity, and to hold one’s self accountable to one’s own standards for achievement. One immediate effect of this is personalization of learning, for the learner, by the learner.

In the following video from Digital Media Research Hub, Katie Salen, Depaul University professor and Executive Director of the Institute of Play discusses the role of play in learning, describing it as a “state of being” that empowers learners to access and explore content, and consider the roles of others in a shared learning space.

Image attribution flickr user josekevo