How To Playfully Teach?


A learning culture marked by fear of disappointment, minimizing risk, and extrinsic result-based attitudes is generated by an intensified emphasis on measurable success and appraisal in higher education. There is a need to comprehend the implications of a more playful approach to education, especially towards higher education. Intrinsic encouragement and educational drive are enhanced by this method, safe spaces for academic creativity and discovery are developed, and reflective risk-taking, ideation and education engagement are encouraged. There has been an exponential growth in creative methods to teaching and student learning throughout the past decade. Proponents contend that designing 'healthy' playful environments encourages learning from disappointment, risk-taking management, imagination and creativity, as well as the many students' enjoyment of learning. The evolving area of playful learning in adulthood, however, is under-explored and the complex and exclusive essence of adult play is not understood. In higher education, we have recently observed the rise of  gaming strategies, including the usage of electronic contexts and strategies for gamification. These are used to encourage student participation, but too frequently concentrate solely on performance, competitiveness, and extrinsic benefits, thereby echoing the industry's performative ethos. While gaming techniques can be a valuable strategy for enhancing interaction, it is the deeper playful encouragement and provision of resources for learning from loss that are at the core of higher education learning activities. In other words when play becomes prescribed, it loses what is central to learning.


In the current sense of higher education, due to the increasing costs of education and the intensified competition of graduate results, learners are under increased pressure to succeed. In addition to their research, many learners spend long shifts; time is at a cost and disappointment is viewed as a very negative consequence. In the post-university setting, though, failure is an unavoidable result of attempting to do something, becoming optimistic and taking risks; it is a vital life skill to cope with disappointment and develop the strength to learn from failures and perseverance. Loss in play, and games in particular, is possible and necessary, as in the physical world; games are built such that failure is often a possibility for the participant, even impossible not to have them. There is no difficulty in a mission that is too straightforward or where progress is ensured without defeat, a game becomes meaningless. The golden circle of playful learning creates a place where learners are able to struggle, where failure in the actual world has no significant repercussions, and where it is accepted as an essential and constructive aspect of the playful learning method. This reconfiguration of loss as a positive state of learning tends to create tolerance to failure and encourages the willingness of students to take calculated chances, contributing in turn to a greater capacity to innovate and to reflect on learning processes and problems rather than observable performance.


Escape rooms are a relatively modern mode of gaming in which tiny groups of players work together to discover answers, solve puzzles and escape a real life locked space over a fixed time (usually an hour). Typically, they are based on a single theme and have a plot aspect. In order to develop practical playful learning environments, EduScapes presents a playful pedagogical methodology since the development of escape rooms requires a rich task, putting together artistic, problem-solving, and technological design abilities in a fun environment, where the result does not really matter. In a playful atmosphere that emphases iterative design and learning by disappointment, the EduScapes project goes a step forward in offering a means of teaching team-work talents, innovative thought and problem-solving.


Virtual platforms that replicate three-dimensional physical environments are simulated 3D spaces, such as Second Existence, OpenSim or Open Simulator. They can be realistic or not and through their animations, they encourage users to connect and use, build and exchange items. Indeed, such environments are immersive, flexible to the user's desire, readily available and programmable (Atkins, 2009). There are several opportunities in such spaces of strong teaching significance, which cannot be overlooked. Simulations are, for all these purposes, a tool with extraordinary potential for acquiring general competencies and abilities that would otherwise be challenging to handle. The truth is that these skills and competencies can be practiced and expressed only by experience, and this criterion opens the door to the creation of simulations in which users play an active role in solving problems that they can only cope with through mobilizing the cognitive capital needed by the background. 


Despite some limitations, playful learning offers a new form of learning. It is an approach that offers freedom to be creative to instructors and students, independence to make decisions, and freedom for the environment. Students not only have to learn and retrieve facts in playful education or grasp and incorporate ideas, but the emergence of understanding by struggling, risking, exploring, wondering, creating, and objectively reflecting is much more so. These methods have the ability to circumvent some of the existing challenges in education in general, as well as disappointments in regards to the hope of gamified and creative approaches to higher education. There is no right or wrong way to play. Play should not be prescribed. I cannot give you a clear guideline on how to playfully teach but more of a general idea of giving students room to breath and time to explore. Rather than demanding and commanding students from a higher plane of existence perhaps it is time to lower ourselves and play with our students.

Atkins, Clare. (2008). Virtual Experience: Observations on Second Life. 7-17.


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