The blog post below was written by SeriousWork graduate Dr Rebekah Wilson who works at Exeter University. Rebekah first published this post on the Exeter University Incubator website and we are grateful for her permission to re-post it here.
The Education Incubator Serious Fun, Serious Play, Serious Skills project awarded six bursaries to support Lego Serious Play Facilitation Training across the University of Exeter. In this blog, one of the bursary recipients, Dr Rebekah Welton shares her journey.
I am a Lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religion. As a relative newcomer to the world of teaching and lecturing, I am particularly keen to try new and exciting ways of delivering content and assessments for my students. So when I heard about the opportunity to apply for a bursary to train as a Lego Serious Play facilitator, I was immediately intrigued. However, I did not have much time to put together the application video as I was about to go on annual leave for a week camping in Wales! I decided to make the most of the gorgeous landscapes and recorded my application video in various locations from Great Orme’s Head to Llanberis! Fortunately, the sight of me in walking gear did not put the panel off, and I was selected to receive the bursary for Lego Serious Play facilitation training. I was delighted!
In normal circumstances, Lego Serious Play takes place face-to-face, with all participants handling shared piles of Lego, but this was, of course not taking place under normal circumstances. So instead, each of us received an array of Lego in the post to use in our own homes via Zoom.
Our brilliant trainer, Sean, taught us to use the bricks as metaphors, building models to express our ideas and anxieties about any topic imaginable. We had to learn to listen carefully to the stories that each participant told about the models, and in asking further probing questions about why they chose a red brick instead of yellow, we were led to unexpected but insightful conversations about each model and what they represented.
Once we got the knack of facilitating the building of individual models online and using them for reflection, we then learnt to amalgamate the individual models into a one large shared model. I think we were all surprised by just how effective this was for drawing together a variety of ideas into one narrative, mediated by the Lego bricks.
On the second day of training we got into the nitty-gritty work of planning Lego Serious Play sessions for the particular needs of a specific group; a seminar on a particular module, a department of academic colleagues, or an executive group, for example. This is where we realised that the efficacy of Lego Serious Play sessions relies on the planning and the thoughtful implementation of clear, accurate directions for model building, and the subsequent reflection.
It is not simply a case of asking participants to play with bricks. The task must be framed carefully to yield the best results. Nevertheless, the capacity and flexibility that this playful pedagogy provides for enhancing learning and communication are immense, and I am eagerly anticipating delivering my first Lego session to my students in a couple of weeks. When face to face, hands-on Lego sessions become safe to carry out, Sean will be visiting us on campus to teach us how to run even bigger Lego Serious Play sessions and build ‘system models’.
I feel so inspired by the training I received. The ways in which this method of learning and creating shared visions can be used appears to be multifarious. I am fully behind the aims of Education Incubator to integrate Lego Serious Play into the University’s toolkit of common practices in teaching and academic development. If you have the opportunity to attend a session, or to also receive facilitation training at a later date, I wouldn’t hesitate to take part!
NOTE: Thanks for letting us share your write up Rebekah. We should also note that without the pioneering work being done by Dr Holly Henderson at Exeter University expanding the use of LEGO Serious Play at Exeter University would not be happening!