Packing up our things.

May 3, 2021

The Playful Journey Lab is packing up our things and heading into the sunset. By the end of this year, all of the journeyers will be continuing on to new adventures. Some of the team, and existing Playful Assessment work will continue at MIT in the STEP Lab/Education Arcade. A handful will continue on in their roles as learning designers & educational technologists with our partners the High Meadows Graduate School of Teaching and Learning. YJ Kim, our founding director, has begun a new journey as faculty in the Design, Informal, and Creative Education group at University of Wisconsin. And others will continue to bring assessment, playfulness, and new approaches to learning in other labs and organizations.

As a final portfolio, we wanted to highlight some of the accomplishments in our two years as a lab that we’re most proud of:

Aquapressure: Together with the Gabrieli Lab at MIT, we designed a game-based assessment for executive function skills that is being used in cognitive science research with the goal of improving the experience and relevance of EF skills assessment. We have also created a set of SEL learning experiences based on Aquapressure to help teachers facilitate conversations with students so they can understand their own executive functioning and how it varies with different levels of stress.

Beyond Rubrics: In collaboration with MakerEd and maker-center educators we developed a collection of maker competencies and a set of embedded assessment tools for use in maker centered classrooms in the Beyond Rubrics Toolkit. We went on to implement some of these tools in makerspaces in Bangalore through our Playful India project. To support educators in using the tools, we also released Designing for Documentation and Assessment, a learning guide for professional learning communities to engage with our tools and design principles.

High Meadows Graduate School of Teaching and Learning: PJL was originally created out of our partnership with this new, competency-based teacher training program. In that time, in collaboration with HMGSTL staff, we’ve:

Learning Dens:  We partnered with the Mendon-Upton Regional School District to design and pilot an activity series responding to the unique challenges of virtual and hybrid learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students came away from the Learning Den activity series with a collection of shared artifacts that capture this moment in their lives, help expand their ideas of what learning is, and bring them closer to their peers.

MetaRubric: We designed the playful learning experience MetaRubric to show how complex, and even fun, assessment can be, through exploring what rubrics can do well and what they can’t. We brought this experience to teachers by running MetaRubric sessions on district professional development days and at conferences like SXSW EDU.

Shadowspect: We developed a game-based assessment for 3D geometry, along with a set of lesson plans for teaching with Shadowspect. We also co-designed an assessment dashboard with a wonderful group of math teachers, to develop metrics that align with playful, student-centered learning, and to rethink how data dashboards can be tinkerable and support the constructs we care about.

This isn’t the end of our individual journeys and exploring frontiers in lifelong, lifewide learning, and to support the development of future-ready skills. We hope to continue to collaborate with you in the future. As YJ said at our SXSWEdu launch in 2019, 놀자! (Let’s Play!)