Blog 79

The Lego Workshop

Lisa Endersby, Teaching Commons

A new year is often a time to reflect, as the turning of the calendar pages prompts us to consider our past achievements and future goals. At the Teaching Commons, one area for reflection that motivates us in January and throughout the year is the possibility of innovation and ongoing development in teaching and learning. Innovation can have as many definitions as the papers and websites that define it, but for us innovation is, in part, a willingness to explore and try something new.

Innovative teaching strategies can often include opportunities for hands-on, active learning. Typically, this can take the form of asking questions and facilitating group discussions. These activities share a common goal of helping our students to make personal and actionable meaning from their learning to transform complex theoretical knowledge into new skills and novel ideas. Many instructors also share the common challenge of motivating students to participate in these active learning strategies, encountering as many barriers and challenges as there are benefits to this means of engaging students in and with their learning.

Innovation in engagement can take many forms. Many instructors have developed and implemented new ways for students to respond to questions, sometimes using technology, while others have reimagined what questions will be asked. Following an inspiring session from our colleague Nicola Simmons at Brock University, the Teaching Commons further extended our ideas of innovation to include a tangible element for engagement activities. Using LEGO bricks and kits, we began to explore the potential value of LEGO as a teaching tool. Our first Using LEGO in the Classroom workshop was held in November 2017 with colleagues considering these building blocks as a way to inspire non-linear thinking and to unlock the creative potential in their students.

Instructors in our first workshop participated in a number of different activities, all designed to demonstrate how LEGO can be used to develop transferable skills. LEGO can help our students learn communication skills, problem solving, teamwork, and creativity. Faculty also discussed how LEGO could be used as a tool for formative assessment, using the LEGO bricks to help students construct and demonstrate their understanding of key concepts without having to rely solely on text-based evaluations.

Have you been considering opportunities for innovation in your classroom? How might your students benefit from an opportunity to ‘play’ with new ideas in your lectures? Join us at our next Using LEGO in the Classroom workshop will be held on Tuesday, January 23 from 9-11am to learn more about how LEGO  can be used as a teaching tool to support meaningful student engagement across disciplines. Additional details and a link to register for the session can be found on the Teaching Commons website.

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