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Ella Paldam

PhD, Postdoc

Ella Paldam
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I research collaboration, play and learning as part of the PlayTrack research team at the IMC. I collaborate with several external partners in the Danish society (Langagerskolen, CoC Playful Minds and The Danish National Museum). In my research, i explore how learning emerges when children co-create with each other and with adults in public education and in private sector product innovation.


My primary research project CollaboLearn develops play-based social learning curricula for - and in collaboration with - children on the spectrum and their adults (parents and teachers). To deepen our understanding of the children's collaboration, I study their communication strategies. I mostly employ qualitative methods (video ethnography and participant observation), and I employ highly systematic analytical strategies (e.g. Conversation Analysis).


I hold a PhD in the Anthropology of Religion from Aarhus University. My previous research includes contemporary indigenous religiosity among California Indians, healing through prayer among Danish Christians, the decline in religiosity in Denmark since 1300, and lived religion among Danish Asatru and witches.


The basic question that drives my research is: How do humans understand each other across our different worldviews? The question is relevant both in relation to cultural identity and when it comes to the percetion of our surroundings. In my approach, worldview encompasses conscious reflection on cultural identity as well as our pre-reflective perception of the world. I work with the question in all phases of my research: theoretically, to design studies, methodologically, analytically, and to disseminate and implement my results - and it is also my hobby!


Handout til ESERO workshop 23/11 


Teaching material from CollaboLearn

During the spring of 2020, my colleagues Rikke Steensgaard, Line Gebauer, Stine Strøm, and I developed material that explains how to co-construct social learning environments with children on the spectrum. All activities are based on play. The teaching material is developed for Langagerskolen in Aarhus (a specialized public school for children on the spectrum), but we make it freely available. The activities were developed with children on the spectrum, but our pilot research suggests that all children benefit from engaging. The material is a beta version.


Download the material right here: Klub Klods (still only available in Danish, but an English version will be available soon).


We truly appreciate any comments, questions, ideas and critique.



COVID19 lockdown: social learning environments at home

During the COVID19 lockdown, we developed some of the ideas that we use in the CollaboLearn project into material for home learning environments. The lockdown situation is particularly difficult for children who need extra structure and predictability to navigate day-to-day activities. The activities are designed to always begin from the social competencies of each child in order to develop social strategies that are meaningful for the individual.

The COVID19 material (beta-versions) is available in Dansih and English (some of it)



Open Your Data!

My colleague Mette Terp Høybye and I organize monthly qualitative data sessions. Each month, a researcher presents a data problem and a piece of data for the group to analyze. Only the presenting researcher will need to prepare – everyone else just shows up on time, curious and ready to share their reflections and discuss ideas for the analysis. The aim of the sessions is to open up the analytical process so that we may inspire each other and sharpen our analytical minds. If you're interested in qualitative data analysis, please come by (every 2nd Thursday of the month at the IMC - check the exact dates in our homepage) or get in touch with Mette or me.

Link to the OYD homepage right here!


A couple of my favourtie links: How to co-create playful learning environments:

  •  Learning Creative Learning: How do you create creative and motivating learning environments? E-course from MIT Media Lab about the basic principles of creative learning.





Research topics: collaboration, play, learning, co-production, co-creation, communication, interaction, autism.

Education: Anthropology of religion (supervisor: Armin W. Geertz).

Position: Carlsberg Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. My research is also funded by Trygfonden, the Innovation Fund Denmark, PlayTrack (the Lego Foundation) and CoC Playful Minds.

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