Walsh, Andrew and Haigh, Jess (2016) Transform-IT: On the magic roundabout of skills. In: LILAC 2016, 21st - 23rd March, 2016, Dublin. (Unpublished)

This project is a collaboration modestly funded by the Education and Training Consortium (http://consortium.hud.ac.uk/) involving academics, academic skills, the library, and current students. The funding paid for a small amount of collaborative time to create playful teaching interventions to improve the academic and information skills of a group of Education students (initially).

It uses ideas from the theory of play to create a safe, playful environment for students to learn these skills. It aims to create a “magic circle” (Salen & Zimmerman., 2004, pp. 94-96), within which students are protected from the more formal intimidating spaces of the lecture theatre and library. This is especially important for those difficult threshold concepts (Meyer and Land, 2006) within a discipline where the students can be seen as passing through a conceptual “gateway” to open up previously inaccessible way of thinking. Play is particularly powerful in enabling travel through these liminal spaces, with Cooper arguing that it provides “a non-threatening forum for experimentation and a means to form a cohesive subculture/group in which the student feels a sense of belonging or relatedness” (Cooper, 1996, p. 33).

The variety of sessions provided, open to student choice, and in a safe, playful environment provide an opportunity for transformative education to these students. The focus of this paper will be on the approach taken to design the sessions, to ensure good collaboration and student involvement, and the lessons learnt from this.


Cooper, M. K. (1996). Play as a component of the adult educational experience. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual Midwest Research-to-Practice Conference in Adult, Continuing, and Community Education.

Meyer, J. and Land, R. (2006). Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding: Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge. London: Routledge.

Salen, K. and Zimmerman, E. (2004). Rules of play: game design fundamentals. Cambridge, Mass: MIT.

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