LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® at Boise State University
I recently facilitated a two day workshop at Boise State University in an Import/Export class. The workshop was separated to two different periods due to the schedule of the classes. The students knew that I was going to be there to facilitate this workshop about a month ahead of time, however, they had a preconceived idea that they would just be playing with Lego bricks and not having an educational class. They were mistaken and, in fact, the exact opposite happened.
The students in this class learned about the import and export regulations, parties involved, dos and don'ts, processes and more and I wanted to take that knowledge and stretch it even further. My goal was to have them unlock knowledge, ideas, and thoughts by using what they already knew and applying it to real world situations. The results were amazing and the students were able to use their imagination, creativity and unique skills and educational backgrounds to build models representing the import and export process in different ways. Not only did they build models using Lego bricks, but they also used and expanded on their existing knowledge in the classroom and they were completely engaged and hands on the entire time.
Day 1-Introduction and Skills Building
So, what happened and how?
Well, let me first start off with what I did first to help them understand what it was the class would be doing. I did what everyone does when they present. I stood up at the front of the class, put a PowerPoint on the screen, and I spoke nonstop for about 15 minutes straight. At the end of the 15 minutes, everyone in the room had their head on their hands, leaned back in their chairs and were giving me a blank stare. They had no idea what I was talking about and how it would be helpful. That changed very fast.
As soon as this brief presentation (I only spoke for 15 minutes, imagine much longer) was over, I got right into gear and told them to open their bags of Lego bricks and put them on the table. Here are the questions/models that they built:
Build a Tower (standard introduction)
Build a Snowmobile (everyone built the same thing from instructions)
Make Your Snowmobile Easier To Manufacture (very open ended question)
Build a Model Representing One Part of the Import/Export Process (open ended, but pertains to the class directly)
The results from day 1 were quite interesting because the students thought that the models would never relate to the class and didn't find value in directly (I asked for feedback at the end of the class). I told them that day 2 would be much more involved, collaborative and pertain to the class and that the Skills Building was necessary so they understood the process of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®. Additionally, I pointed out their body language from the beginning of the class compared to when they were building the models. They went from not engaged or absorbing much of what I was saying to 100% hands on, engaged and leaned in. Immediately, they gave me a look of understanding. Notice in the heading picture how everyone's head is looking at the models they are building, their hands are on the Lego bricks, and they are engaged with what they are doing. Mission Accomplished.
Day 2-Using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® To Understand The Import/Export Process
So, what happened and how?
On day two, they jumped right into a reconnect challenge to get their hands on Lego bricks immediately in addition to "reconnecting" with the core process. Here are the questions/models that they built:
Build a Tower (start off with a Yellow 6x2 piece and end with the flag on top)
Build a Model Representing Your Role In Supply Chain/Logistics/International Shipping
Build a Model Representing One Obstacle/Challenge Involved In Supply Chain/Logistics/International Shipping
Build a Model Representing a Solution to the Chosen Obstacle
Ultimately, these results were fascinating. Models one and two were really designed to "get their head in the game" so to speak and they were taken apart after the collaboration was finished. Models three and four did carry over and were the final act of the workshop. I had a "table lead" write down everyone's obstacles. After the Core Process was finished, each "table lead" communicated all of their obstacles to the other tables' students. Then, I had the team spend a few minutes deciding which obstacle to solve as a team. Then I had them build individual solutions to that obstacle. Again, the "table lead" wrote down everyone's proposed solutions and the tables communicated about their proposed solutions. Lastly, I had them build a collective model of "The Solution" to that obstacle. This is where it got very interesting and fun for me as a facilitator.
The students brought up great obstacles and proposed solutions that I wouldn't have thought of by sitting back and trying to think. In fact, some of them were very "deep" and involved political facets and other things along those lines. Once we got to the point of the collective model, the students had a difficult time determining their "proposed solution in one fluid sentence". So, I walked around to every table and helped them develop this. At the end of the class once every table had their collective models built, I advised them to take pictures and provide feedback to me. Needless to say, day two was a success and the students left with no doubts that they were able to apply their knowledge and experience in a way that was unique, fun, collaborative, and educational.
For me, this was an amazing experience and it certainly made me realize that there is more to a formal education than meets the eye. It's OK to have fun while learning and it's OK to have that fun while using Lego bricks. This experience made me want to bring this workshop to other classes in the collegiate system along with other learning systems.
It was wonderful to see students that were not engaged to completely immersed in what they were doing. I got some great feedback from the students regarding their experience, and a few of the things said were "this would have been great to use at the beginning of the semester and throughout the semester so that we could have connected and collaborated at an earlier stage", "this allowed me to see things from a different perspective and realize that there is more to the class then just what we are learning", and many others.
At the end of the workshop, I was amazed at the feedback and collective effort from the students. I'm very grateful for the experience and would love to do it again.