Helping play ambassadors overcome barriers to advance learning through play
The following blog is the first in a series of 5 blog posts aimed to further the discussion on selected solutions to overcoming barriers to adopting learning through play in schools, communities and private households. The solutions were co-designed during this year’s LEGO® Idea Conference and we thank all conference participants for their engagement and deep commitment. Now, let’s open up the discussion: This time we ask: “Is how you assess as important as what you assess?”
When we challenged the 320 conference participants to co-design solutions to overcome barriers to adopting learning through play, one group said: “Let’s stop re-inventing the wheel!” - “we need a Trip Advisor like platform to collect information about all the tools that can be used to measure the outcomes of learning through play”.
The group had child-based outcomes like “resilience, problem-solving and creativity” in mind; they wanted a “search engine and peer review rating system”, and they finished by suggesting that developing a new platform would be a waste of time and energy, far better to “find an existing platform that is happy to share”.
This was one of several practical ideas that leapt to my eye when reviewing the ideas from the 2015 conference. Why? Well, in my discussions with colleagues, partners and other foundations, measurement is one of the most frequently raised topics. It’s also one of the hardest to discuss without provoking a dangerous rise in blood pressure around the room. And it’s also a topic where there seems to be an inexhaustible supply of acronyms announcing the arrival of yet another measurement tool – MELQO, ELOM, IDELA, ASQ, SACAS, HECDI, ZamCAT, ASQ-3, EDI, GOLD – yes; my eyes are glazing over too!
Does this trip advisor for measurement tools already exist? Please do drop me a note with the good news if it does! Or perhaps you’re already working on the idea? But, assuming it doesn’t (and given the amazing experience in the room at the LEGO Idea Conference I’d suspect we’d know), then I have a difficult question to ask before a platform like this is launched: Is "how you assess as important" as “what you assess”?
That might seem counterintuitive … but it comes from an observation that most metrics that aim to assess child-based outcomes of play, are anything but playful. Indeed, many suffer from “chocolate covered broccoli” syndrome – where an assessor armed with clipboard and pre-written script introduces a task to a five year old with words like “Now, we’re going to play a game …”. Then proceeds to give the child a task, with just one right answer, that the child is expected to perform individually, to demonstrate a specific narrow skill or piece of knowledge. This is play as window-dressing … and most five year olds will quickly work out that it’s still just broccoli underneath.
So, my question to those of you who have read this far – if a platform was used to share information about tools that measure child-based outcomes of learning through play, are there great examples that we could put on it that would pass the chocolate covered broccoli test?
I would love to read your insights in the comments I urge you to bring to the table in the LEGO Idea Conference Discussion Group.
Global Head of Research & Learning, the LEGO Foundation