Teaching Tuesdays@CSU

Teaching Tips & Links for SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING

Issue 29 - LEGO® for Learning - Seriously!

October 2, 2018

The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method is a facilitated thinking, communication and problem solving technique. Its goal is to foster creative thinking about real-world challenges through metaphor and story-telling.

David Cameron, Director of Learning Resources in the Division of Learning and Teaching at CSU is a Trained facilitator of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method and materials. He recently ran highly engaging hands-on workshops on CSU campuses to introduce the concept to CSU staff.

In this week’s bulletin we are looking at some thought starters for how you can use this concept in your teaching.

Here are some resources for your information, up front:

“LEGO, SERIOUS PLAY, the Minifigure and the Brick and Knob configurations are trademarks

of the LEGO Group, which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this website”.

© 2018 The LEGO Group


Implementing the CSU Value INSPIRING in your teaching.

Through living the value of “inspiring” we challenge those around us to leave their comfort zones and support and foster their growth and evolution. We are champions of change with compelling visions and we engage those around us in shaping the journey.


The background

LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® (LSP) is an established business development tool used by many major global companies and organisations. The focus is on metaphorical and symbolic representations. Several academic groups have also investigated its use for learning in Higher Education. We have drawn on some key academic literature for this bulletin (Nolan, 2009, James, 2013; James & Brookfield, 2017; Peabody & Noyes, 2017).

The underpinning theories

LSP is commonly associated with three learning theories: adult transformative learning theory, constructivism, and constructionism (See James & Brookfield, 2017 for discussions of these theories).

QUOTE: Metaphorical modelling works best at times of choice, change, crisis, and challenge when the learners existing internal metaphorical model needs to adapt (Roos, 2006). … Modelling during times of steady, unchanging work is a far less effective use (Nolan, 2009).

Contexts for usage

  • Creative arts context has been regarded as a natural fit for LSP with visual and kinaesthetic learning approaches
  • As a research tool for understanding rhetorics of play within HE and in the creative industries
  • As a tool for participatory and collaborative design, E.g. Architecture and town planning; developing a design brief with a client.
  • As a way of organizing research networks
  • As a way of designing collaborative, interactive narratives
  • As a research tool for understanding a student’s orientation to learning
  • Facilitation in doctoral research programs, performing arts, faculty education and training, mentees on work placement, leadership, team identity, orientation of incoming students, evaluations at the end of a course, sustainability, student engagement, and motivating learning and teaching
  • Study of learner identities
  • Retention studies
  • Change management and organisation theory
  • Autobiographical writing
  • Modelling affect as cognition– intuitive and reflective practice
  • Metaphors in education


LSP approaches

  • Are transferable and open to adoption in all disciplines
  • Can prepare the way for deeper and more engaging learning
  • Can inform or feed into work in digital formats

Students find:

  • Clarity in modelling their learning, including skills, competencies, emotions, orientations to learning, courses, choices, placements, planning, professional relationships
  • Control over their learning
  • Revealing options that were previously hidden
  • Personal metaphors can be identified
  • Collaborative metaphors can emerge in the building of shared models

Teaching staff find:

  • Windows into the actual learning of students
  • Spotting problems in terms of students’ practical and emotional learning needs
  • Good for group bonding and relationship building in group projects
  • Enriching communication
  • Possible use as a form of assessment
  • Enabling students who struggle with producing academic writing by providing other modes of learning and assessment
  • A non-traditional mode of reflection
  • Promotes thinking in 3D
  • Democratic process that can bridge diverse learning cultures
  • Good means to engage students with English as second language


  • Core method of sharing stories through metaphorical modelling is only effective for groups of between 5 and 12
  • Initial time investment is quite high
  • Physical use of the materials can be unsuitable for those with certain disabilities
  • The initial materials expenditure is high
  • Negative reactions to the idea of using a toy for serious educational matters
  • Fear and timewasting perceptions
  • Too constraining for some creative participants
  • Protocol driven that can also seem constricting
  • Seen as a ‘corporate training tool’
  • Suspicion by participants that they are being psychologically analysed by the facilitator

The challenge

LSP can provide a valuable approach in many learning contexts. The reference articles provide expanded information, references to other key works and are also cited by other educational LSP literature.

Can you see possibilities for your own teaching context?


Consult CSU LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Trained facilitator, David Cameron to learn details of the protocols and discuss facilitation of workshops (dcameron@csu.edu.au).

David has recently set up a CSU LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology Yammer group where you can find out more about some workshop activities.



James, A. (2013). Lego Serious Play: A three-dimensional approach to learning development. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (6).

James, A., & Brookfield, S. (2017). The serious use of play and metaphor: LEGO® models and labyrinths. In V. C. X. Wang (Ed.) Adult Education and Vocational Training in the Digital Age(pp. 118-133). IGI Global.

Nolan, S. (2010). Physical metaphorical modelling with LEGO as a technology for collaborative personalised learning. In J. O’Donoghue (Ed.) Technology-supported environments for personalized learning: Methods and case studies(pp. 364-385). IGI Global.

Peabody, M. A., & Noyes, S. (2017) Reflective boot camp: Adapting LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® in higher education, Reflective Practice, 18(2): 232-243, doi: 10.1080/14623943.2016.1268117


Learning Environments taster ...

We will be looking at environments for learning in upcoming issues of Teaching Tuesdays@CSU.

The first Learning Environments newsletter provides glimpses of exciting learning environments at CSU.

It is particularly focussed on teaching staff and highlights new or amended physical and digital learning environments (learning systems and learning technologies).


... and another opportunity

Free online seminar - Development of National Guidelines in Australia for Improving Student Outcomes in Online Education
10 October 2018, 11am

During 2016 an Australian research project was conducted under the sponsorship of the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) at Curtin University, with the aim of improving student retention and academic success in online education.

The findings have informed a set of National Guidelines for Australian institutions for improving student outcomes in online learning.

Speaker: Dr Cathy Stone
The University of Newcastle and the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education

Connect Online via Zoom.

Further information: https://tinyurl.com/y7ksfw7u


Follow Teaching Tuesdays on Twitter.
Our Twitter feed includes links to further hints, tips and resources in the broader field of teaching in higher education. https://twitter.com/TeachingTuesday

Link to: Folder with all previous issues of Teaching Tuesdays



1....Teaching support resources at CSU
2....CSU Professional Learning Calendar
3....Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching MOOC
4....Bonus CSU resource - Lynda.com
5....Magna Commons Subscription
6....Links to previous bulletins


1. Teaching support resources at CSU

You have access to a range of quality CSU resources to help you incorporate educational resources and techniques into your teaching. Check out the following:


2. CSU Professional Learning Calendar

Regular seminars on teaching-related topics are listed on the

CSU Professional Learning Calendar - accessed directly here

or from Division of Learning and Teaching front page - accessed here

CSU Professional Learning Calendar:

Expert Workshop Writing a Teaching Philosophy Statement. Adobe Connect session. 2 October at 12:00 pm, and 4 October at 1:30 pm, all welcome to this EEL516 workshop

Preparing for end-of-session processes. Adobe Connect session. 3 October 2018 at 1 pm, and 4 October 2018 at 1 pm.


3. Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching MOOC

Professional Development opportunity for all.

Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching is an

open access COURSE for the Australian Higher Education Sector.

This teaching induction course provides key introductory learning and teaching concepts and strategies for those who are in their first few years of university teaching. The self-paced course is comprised of 11expert-developed modules, and several specialty modules and resources.

For more information on how to enrol, please contact

Sheeja Samuel- email: ssamuel@csu.edu.au ph: +61 2 6051 9742, or

Kellie Smyth - email: ksmyth@csu.edu.au ph: +61 2 6272 6270

NOTE: Completion of this course will provide some credit and a pathway into the CSU Grad. Cert. in Learning & Teaching in Higher Education (GCLTHE). It can provide a basis for commencing preparation for Associate Fellowship (HEA).


4. Bonus CSU resource - Lynda.com

All CSU students and staff members have access to Lynda.com, an online subscription library that teaches the latest business, creative and software skills through high-quality instructional videos.

Quote from Alison Foale in our CSU Yammer group:

According to LinkedIn, 57 percent of leaders say soft skills are more important than hard skills. LinkedIn surveyed 2,000 business leaders and asked them the soft skills they'd most like to see their employees learn. This is what they said:
1. Leadership
2. Communication
3. Collaboration
4. Time Management

Check out this link to the Yammer feed for some of the Lynda.com recommended courses


5. Magna Commons Subscription

All staff with a CSU email address have free access to our annual

CSU subscription to the Magna Commons series of online seminars

Presentation handouts, full transcripts and supplementary resources are available for download if you don't have time to listen to the seminar.

How to subscribe

Staff with a CSU email address can obtain the Magna Commons CSU subscription code from Ellen McIntyre elmcintyre@csu.edu.au


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6. Links to previous bulletins

Folder with all previous issues.

Issue 1 Group Work; Issue 2 Engagement; Issue 3 Engagement;

Issue 4 Academic Integrity; Issue 5 Feedback; Issue 6 Feedback;

Issue 7 Active Engagement; Issue 8 Building on Prior Learning;

Issue 9 Student Diversity; Issue 10 Learning Outcomes;

Issue 11 Deep Learning; Issue 12 The Teaching-Research Nexus;

Issue 13 Improving Student Learning; Issue 14 Planning for Effective Student Learning;
Issue 15 Feedback for Teaching; Issue 16 Gamification;
Issue 17 Activities for Effective Learning; Issue 18 Dialogic Feedback;

Issue 19 Student Evaluation; Issue 20 Enhancing Learning;
Issue 21 Rationale for Assessment; Issue 22 Motivating Learning; Issue 23 Peer Learning;
Issue 24 Improving Online Learning and Teaching; Issue 25 Teacher Presence;

Issue 26 Teaching Current Content; Issue 27 Online Learning Model;

Issue 28 Maximising Subject Experience Survey Response Rates

FoBJBS Newsletter: BJBS-News

FoA&E Newsletter: NeXus

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