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Klaus Thestrup

Designing for Global Play: Experimenting communities and open labs in a global perspective

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DESIGNING FOR GLOBAL PLAY Experimenting communities and open labs in a global perspective
KeywordsExperimenting communities, open laboratories, the participator, trans-glocal playcultureIntroduction
This abstract is based upon several practical research projects conducted in kindergartens and preschools, where children, pedagogues and pre-school teachers has been involved in exchanging, experimenting and playing across time and space using digital media. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, WordPress, Skype, Google+ and E-twinning has been some of the platforms through which communication and production has taken place. It can be other platforms and the platforms chosen do not say anything about how these should be used in the future. This abstract only talks about the pedagogical principles and potentials when a kindergarten or school communicates and plays with someone else outside the kindergarten and school.The projects The projects, that this abstract has been inspired by, are as follows: mediaPLAYINGcommunities (Link 1), where 9 kindergartens from 8 countries played with media. Already in this project I encountered the challenge, that every kindergarten understands itself as an closed pedagogical entity separated from other kindergartens. In Digital World Citizens (Thestrup et al., 2009) 1-3 kindergartens worked with media play using both analogue and digital materials and tools. In 2015, the project continued as a national research project (Thestrup et al., 2015) where 17 kindergartens communicated using Google+ groups and Skype. Here synchronous and asynchronous communication and the connection of physical and digital spaces were established. In that way, children’s play using both digital and analogue materials and tools can be used. In the research project Assist (Link 2) schools communicated using skype and developed a model for a media ecology, where the participants could use and develop how to combine the different kinds of digital media between schools (Thestrup et al., 2018). The digital media are not neutral in how communication is framed but must be deliberately framed by those who use it. As part of the MaKEY-project (Link 3), children and teachers worked in the project Global makerspace, (Thestrup & Pedersen, 2020), where 3 schools in 3 countries started to exchange expressions through transforming images, drawings and objects. Finally, in the SEEDS-project (Link 4) it seems obvious that the European pedagogical tradition has a lot to offer when it comes to play and digital media. It seems possible to activate existing experiences and pedagogical methods, that already exist in many European kindergartens and schools. With this in mind one may be able to point backwards into the tradition and point forwards to the expansion or change of the tradition.The research question The projects have in common that they consist of groups of children and staff in kindergartens and pre-schools, that share buildings, playgrounds and activities in a pedagogical setting. The institutions do not necessarily share the same methods, but they all have had an interest in exploring the use of digital media together with children. Play is one of several important focal points in all the projects. The method used during these projects have all been practical research and action research where the researcher took part in the activities or led them together with the practitioners. In 2015 this was framed as Next Practice Labs, (Sandvik & Thestrup, 2017), where the suggestions for practical activities were tested and used as basis for new cultural and pedagogical practice in the kindergarten. These labs develop the next practice and are both a research method and a pedagogy. The basic research question has over the years been the same: How can children and staff in pedagogical institutions communicate, experiment and play together globally? The experimenting community Over the years I have developed pedagogical methods and principles to communicate and play using the internet as the primary source. It does include a number of challenges and possibilities doing this. First of all, the group of children and staff are seen as experimenting communities (Caprani & Thestrup, 2010; Dittert, Thestrup & Robinson 2021). That is a group, where the core of the activities in the group are primarily to experiment and not only to repeat existing everyday practice around the use of digital media. The point is to invent new practice that becomes part of a new everyday life in the community. The experimenting community is a culture of creativity (Gauntlett & Thomsen, 2013), where common meaning-making inside the community and between communities is developed. The experimenting community is closely related to children’s own play culture, in the sense that there is an exchange between the play culture and the experimenting community concerning what and how to play. Children’s own play culture (Mouritsen, 1996; Toft & Knudsen 2016) or free play does exist simultaneously outside and inside the experimenting community as one of several driving forces in what the community does. As in children’s play culture the community can repeat a practice, improvise upon it and establish a new practice. The term playful learning does not only give free play a place inside the pedagogy itself (Zosh et al., 2017; LEGO Foundation, 2020), but it can also relate to the free play outside the actual pedagogical space no matter if this happens in a virtual or physical space. It can be done by asking children to demonstrate how they play something themselves and then play it inside the community. The pre-school teacher plays an important part in the community. She or he is part of the community as a The Participator (Link 5). This term covers that the pre-school teacher herself takes part in the investigation process and does experiments, where she does not have all answers ready beforehand. The children can of course also be and become participators, but the term covers a change in the roles of the teacher. The teacher’s new role also allows her or him to be part of a common play as one who can suggest and take the lead in what and how to play, unfold common play and follow the lead of others. This is supported by the understanding of play as it has been discussed in children´s culture research in the Nordic countries, where children and pre-school teachers actually can play together (Ringsmose & Kragh-Müller, 2017; Sørensen & Olesen, 2000). The community experiments in Open Laboratories (Thestrup, 2018), that are open in three ways. In the open lab it is not decided in advance what materials, tools, processes and spaces, that are to be used. This means firstly that digital and analogue materials are intertwined in processes, where it no longer matters, where it came from, but what the actual combination consists of. Secondly, physical and virtual spaces are linked together in processes, where both the physical and the virtual space are important. In both spaces, the materials, tools, bodies, narratives and the space itself are unfolded according to the possibilities and the intention but they also support, inspire and potentially change the processes in the other spaces. The actual workspace, classroom or playground, where children and staff are experimenting is connected to other schools or kindergartens, so that they experiment, play and produce together using software, that allows them to connect and explore. The laboratory is both local and global and that leads towards the third way of being open. The open laboratory is ready to be inspired and challenged by others outside the laboratory local, regional or globally. In one laboratory the children and the staff might play and experiment in certain ways the others do not or only do partly in the same way. The staff might have more or less the same or different views on pedagogy, children and society. But that does not mean the possible differences are permanent. During the encounter views might change or common ways of interacting and reflecting upon each other´s practices can be established. The experimenting community can of course be critical towards what it encounters, but it is ready to be inspired and challenged. Even to the extent where the community might decide to engage in events and challenges outside the community itself. The searchers The conclusion is that there is a pedagogical potential for communication and play across time and space in pedagogical institutions, where both children and pre-school teachers can join. New areas of research for supporting this development would be to investigate more closely how children and young people themselves communicate, play and experiment together on a global scale and then use this research in pedagogical practice (Burke & Marsh, 2013). One can also talk about a trans-glocal play culture (Pedersen 2020; Thestrup & Pedersen, 2020), where the pedagogical institutions are working both locally and globally and are able to transform ideas, expressions and challenges, they encounter, into something that might be interesting both places. The development of new platforms of creativity should also be taken into consideration (Culpepper & Gauntlett 2020). The children and the staff in the pedagogical institutions could be seen as the searchers finding someone to communicate and play with in different ways and something to be inspired by, challenged by and use for transformations.AcknowledgementsI thank all the children, practitioners, consultants and researchers, who over the years have developed methods and principles together with me.ReferencesBurke, A. M., & Marsh, J. (Eds.). (2013). Children’s virtual play worlds: Culture, learning, and participation. Peter Lang. Caprani, O. & Thestrup, K. (2010). Det eksperimenterende fællesskab: Børn og voksnes leg med medier og teknologi [The experimenting community: Children and adults’ play with media and technology]. Læring og Medier, 3(5), pp. 1–39. https://doaj.org/article/aba105d1075948f895b345a91f1f92d3 Culpepper, M. K. & Gauntlett, D. (2020). Making and Learning together. Where the makerspace mindset meets platforms of creativity. Global Studies of Childhood, Vol. 10 Issue 3, Sep. 2020,pp. 264–274Dittert, N., Thestrup, K. & Robinson. S. (2021). The SEEDS pedagogy: Designing a new pedagogy for preschools using a technology-based toolkit.International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction. Vol. 27, March 2021, 100210, pp. 1-10. Localized 20.11.2020 at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212868920300325?dgcid=coauthorGauntlett, D. & Thomsen, B. S. (2013). Cultures of Creativity: The LEGO Foundation. Localized 20.11.2020 at https://www.legofoundation.com/media/1073/cultures-of-creativity-lego-fonden-2013.pdfMouritsen, F. (1996). Legekultur (Play culture): Odense UniversitetsforlagPedersen, L. H. (2020). Play culture across makerspaces: Connecting into a global makerspace online. Global Studies of Childhood, Vol. 10 Issue 3, Sep. 2020. pp. 231–247Ringsmose, C., & Kragh-Müller, G. (2017). Nordic social pedagogical approach to early years. Springer. Sandvik, K., & Thestrup, K. (2017). Challenging makerspaces. NordMedia, Finland. https://staticcuris.ku.dk/portal/files/186091046/thestrup_sandvik_paper_nordmedia2017_final_version.pdf Sørensen, B. H. & Olesen, B. R. (2000) (eds). Børn i en digital kultur (Children in a digital culture): Gads ForlagThe LEGO Foundation (2020). Distance Learning. The LEGO Foundation. Localized 20.11.2020 at https://www.legofoundation.com/media/3060/distance_learning_guide.pdfThestrup, K. (2018). We do the same, but it is different. The open laboratory & play culture. BUKS - Tidsskrift for Børne- Og Ungdomskultur, 35(62), pp. 47–60. Thestrup, K., Gislev, T., & Elving, P. R. (2018). Mellem assistent og lærer. Forsøg med Assisteret Fjernundervisning i Folkeskolen (Between assistent and teacher – assisted distance learning in public school). Aarhus Universitet.Thestrup, K., Henningsen, L., & Jerg, K. (Eds.). (2009). Billedbevægelser: Medieleg i en daginstitution (Media play in a kindergarten). BUKS: Tidsskrift for Børne og Ungdomskultur. Vol. 53.Thestrup, K., & Pedersen, L. H. (2020). Makeative makerspaces: When the pedagogy is makeative. In A. Blum-Ross, K. Kumpulainen, & J. Marsh (Eds.), Enhancing digital literacy and creativity: Makerspaces in the early years (First edition). Routledge.Thestrup, K., Sandvik, K., Jessen, C., Knudsen, J., & Andersen, M. P. (2015). Dannelse i en digital og global verden — Digitale redskaber skal understøtte barnets lærings- og dannelsesproces (Delaftale 3). (Edification in a digital and global world). Localized 20.11.2020 at https://tdm.au.dk/fileadmin/tdm/Publikationer/DANNELSE_I_EN_DIGITAL_OG_GLOBAL_VERDEN-DELRAPPORT-FINAL_26.11.2015.pdfToft, H. & Knudsen, K. E. (Eds). (2016). Mouritsens metode 1 og 2. (Mouritsens method 1 & 2): BUKS: Tidsskrift for Børne og Ungdomskultur. Vol. 59 & 60Zosh, J. N., LEGO Fonden, Hopkins, E. J., Jensen, H., Liu, C., Neale, D., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Solis, S. L., & Whitebread, D. (2017). Learning through play: A review of the evidence. LEGO Fonden. Localized 20.11.2020 at https://www.legofoundation.com/media/1063/learning-through-play_web.pdfLinks Link 1: MediaPLAYINGcommunities. http://mediaplaying.eu/ Link 2: ASSIST. https://open-tdm.au.dk/blogs/assist/ Link 3: MakEY. https://makeyproject.eu/ Link 4: SEEDS. https://seeds-project.eu/Link 5: The Participator – The role of the educator in the future. Localized 20.11.2020 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdWU3YlDoHo&t=4s
Bidragets oversatte titelDesigne for global leg: Eksperimenterende fællesskaber og åbne laboratorier i et globalt perspektiv
Udgivelsesår3 dec. 2020
Antal sider5
StatusUdgivet - 3 dec. 2020
BegivenhedBIN Norden 2021: Designing for Play - LEGO House og Københavns professionshøjskole + Online, Billund og København + Online, Danmark
Varighed: 3 mar. 20215 mar. 2021


KonferenceBIN Norden 2021
LokationLEGO House og Københavns professionshøjskole + Online
ByBillund og København + Online


  • eksperimenterende fællesskaber, global leg, åbne laboratorier

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