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Playful learning in higher education: an inter-cultural dialogue between UK and DK

CHEF Talk (webinar). Speakers: Helle Marie Skovbjerg, Professor, Design School Kolding, Denmark and Nicola Whitton, Professor, Durham University, UK. The webinar is free and open to all.

02.09.2020 | Rikke Toft Nørgård

Dato ons 07 okt
Tid 15:00 15:00
Sted A Zoom-link will be shared with the participants closer to the event.


Playful higher education is a growing field of interest both in research, development and practice. This webinar presents the lay of the land and the state of the art by way of two leading scholars within the field of playful learning, Professor Helle Marie Skovbjerg from Design School Kolding, DK and Professor Nicola Whitton, Durham University, UK. 

Skovbjerg is Head of Research for Playful Learning Research Extension – a big project on playful learning in Denmark – and is co-editor of the book Framing Play Design: A hands-on guide for designers, learners and innovators (2020) on how to apply play and design to innovation and learning processes. 

Whitton is Director of the Durham Centre for Academic Development at Durham University, co-founder and -organiser of the Playful Learning Conference – an annual conference in the UK focusing on playful learning for higher and further education teachers, researchers, trainers and students – and is co-editor of the book Playful Learning: Events and activities to engage adults (2019) exploring the potentials of play in adulthood and the value of play.

In the webinar, Whitton and Skovbjerg will present their approach to and reflections on playful learning, strategies for bringing playful learning into higher education as well give insight into what effective playful learning might look like based on their extensive experience with playful practices, play events and playful design. As part of the webinar, we will also get the opportunity to try out playful learning through playful prompts for intercultural dialogue, exploration and experiences.


Chair: Rikke Toft Nørgård, Associate Professor, Aarhus University, Denmark.

Title: Designing for Play Pedagogy in Higher Education – Exploring the Concept of Play Qualities

By Professor Helle Marie Skovbjerg

Based on the research project Playful Learning Research Extension this talk will explore the concept of “play qualities” as a way to conceptualize play practices within higher education.

Play qualities are always qualities for somebody, relating play qualities to a phenomenological approach, play qualities are linked to the act of play, which means specific doings of play.

With the concept of play qualities, the potentials of non-polarized play and learning become present.

Helle Marie Skovbjerg is a Professor in Design for Play at Design

School Kolding (Denmark). Helle Marie leads several research projects about designing for play. Her main research contribution is the development of the mood perspective on play, aiming at creating a language of play, and then development of strategies of how to design for and with moods of play.

Her latest contribution is: https://www.bispublishers.com/framing-play-design.html

Title: Playful Learning in Naked Higher Education

By Professor Nicola Whitton

Thankfully, for all concerned, there will be no actual nudity in this talk. Instead, Whitton will explore the idea of academic playfulness as ‘nakedness’, providing a way of framing Higher Education culture through three lenses of nakedness. First, she will consider the concept of nakedness as transparency, embodying ideas of institutional democracy, openness and fairness; second, she will discuss nakedness as essence, and consider what an institution playfully stripped to its bare bones might look like; third, she will explore nakedness as vulnerability, drawing on ideas of the ‘magic circle’ and considering the possibility of an academic institution that is willing to publicly make, and learn from, its mistakes.   

Nicola Whitton has worked in academia for over twenty years, first as a learning technologist, then lecturer, researcher, and now as a leader. Her research focuses on the potential of play and games to transform and enhanced learning and teaching in Higher Education. She has three cats, the unluckiest is named Plop.

Register for the event

The webinar is organised by the Centre for Higher Education Futures (CHEF) at Aarhus University.