Alison James

Alison James

I would like to introduce you to Serious Play Pro community member Alison James from University of Arts in London. She has been actively studying Lego Serious Play for a number of years. Let me point you to several interesting publications.

She is an accredited Lego Serious Play (LSP) facilitator, working in Europe as well as the UK. In 2013 she launched LegoLab, a UAL community of practice to take forward the use of LSP for research, education and practice and won a UAL Excellent Teaching Award for using LSP to enhance student learning and staff and educational development. She is also a National Teaching Fellow.

Engaging Imagination Alison James Stephen BrookfieldI would first like to suggest you to visit the website of her recent brilliant book co-authored with Stephen D. Brookfield, titled Engaging Imagination: Helping Students Become Creative and Reflective Thinkers.  This book is a great resource as a tool to assist to become better a educator by showing how to best nurture creativity and reflection among students. The book has also a great section about the use of Lego Serious Play.

The website of their dedicated book has several interesting blog posts about Lego Serious Play:

But in addition there are also other papers that Alison has written, which are worth mentioning. See below:

In 2013 she published Lego Serious Play: a three-dimensional approach to learning development (PDF). This paper discusses work underway to explore the use of Lego Serious Play (LSP) as an unconventional means of developing student learning. Designed originally as a thinking tool within the corporate sector, the techniques and applications of LSP are not those conventionally used in developing academic capacities within students. However, experiences with LSP at the London College of Fashion and that of users in other settings offer evidence of its value in aligning with other approaches to learning to provide a non-hierarchical and student-centred lens through which to consider personal growth and subject understanding. This paper suggests that LSP has an important role to play in supporting multisensory approaches to reflecting on learning, either in tandem with, or instead of writing. While the use of LSP discussed here focuses on its implementation on creative arts courses, it is a highly transferable methodology which can be applied across the spectrum of disciplines and for multiple purposes. You may download the PDF version via Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education for free.

In 2013 she co-wrote with Stephen D. Brookfield another paper, which bears the same title as one of the chapters in their previously mentioned book: “The Serious Use of Play and Metaphor: Legos and Labyrinths“. In this paper the authors examine kinesthetic forms of learning involving the body and the physical realm. The authors look at two particular techniques; using Legos to build metaphorical models and living the physical experience of metaphors in the shape of labyrinth-walking and its attendant activities. The authors begin by discussing their experiences using LEGO building bricks as a reflective tool. While LEGO lends itself particularly effectively to metaphorical modeling (not least through its status as a globally known iconic toy and connection to childhood) the process can take place using any set of objects that are used to represent something other than their real nature. This will be apparent to anyone who has sat at in a restaurant and used the salt and pepper cellars to describe a relationship, car maneuver, choice between two options, altercation or offside rule in Soccer. Buttons, sticks, candles, pots, peas, matches, or any other assortment of items which the user finds sufficiently rich to embody their ideas and convey their intentions work just as well. The point is that the user assigns specific meanings to the materials to illustrate some sort of process or relationship.

Global Innovation of Teaching and Learning in Higher EducationFinally, in 2014 she wrote a book chapter on “Learning in three dimensions: using Lego Serious Play for creative and critical reflection across time and space” for “Global Innovation of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education“, which will be shortly released by Springer. This book chapter explored how Lego Serious Play can be used to cross boundaries of discipline and difficulty at different levels of post-compulsory study, with specific emphasis on the creative arts context.


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