Designs for Learning and Ludic Engagement Staffan Selander

(A Summary of the Article)


  • Play can refer to both rule based and non rule based games
  • “In a way we can also say we play when we get involved in art, because we do it for no specific purpose,” (Selander, p 146, 2008).
  • Both children and adults can switch between ‘fictious’ and ‘real’ world.
  • Callois (1958) defines 4 types of play

Agon (competition) alea (chances)

Mimicry (role play) ilinx ( danger)


Playing with toys is also an elaboration of the virtual and the real. For the purpose of my research toy as discussed in this article refers to object, artefact/ interface


“To play with toys is also to learn about narratives and social relations,” (Selander, p 146, 2008).


Playing with toys is a way to scrutinize objects to discover what one can do with them.


“Play, playfulness and Imagination can in an overall perspective be understood as a process of engagement, transformations signs, meaning making, reflection and meta reflection,” (Selander, p 147, 2008).


Selander poses the question can “we see play as a way of systematic learning,” (Selander, p 147, 2008).


Selander mentions that learning seems to be about the ‘real’ world and not a fictious one, as in play.


Some psychologists and their focus of learning


Skinner learning—- Behavior

Piaget learning —— Cognitive thinking

Vygotsky learning —-(social interplay)/ Transition from pre language to after language thinking/ role of social interactions and role of artefacts


These learning theories have also influenced computer interface design and learning. The design of sophisticated computer games is a result of these learning theories and also emphasizes the importance of play and engagement


Knowledge and Learning


Knowledge is to engage in the world in a meaningful way, learning is the same but at an increased capacity.

Can also be said that learning and knowledge is the increased capacity of using an oreder of signs.



Designs for Learning


Designs for learning = a transformational process where engagement results in sign making and meaning making.


Selander presents ‘Designs for learning’ as a model can help identify the different decisions and steps in a meaning making process.


The transfprmation of signs to make new representation. This is the definition of learning that I keep coming across and it seems this is what the end goal should be of a playful ludic artifact expanding interface or activity.


“ Both play an dlearnign are possible to observe by focusing on the transformational process of ‘sign making’,” (Selander, p 148, 2008).



Institutional routines, rituals and norms can be redefined through a process of meaning making. This is something that can happen in both play and regular learning activities (Selander, 2008).


Free play is an important concept mentioned by the author as it relates more directly to my work, according to the article free play is full of narratives, signs, and symbols.


In a Learning Design Sequence, it is possible to understand in a play sequence, “ where different imaginations are combined and represented by signs symbols and artefacts,” (Selander, p 148, 2008).


Through the Learning Design Sequence several aspects of the situation can be revealed. Such as resources, interests of the player and social communication which starts and the transformation of knowledge and builds meaning making, each cycle linked to the next and the cycles can go in many different directions, (Selander, 2008).


The idea of the model (LDS) is based on the assumption that play and learning are a sign making meaning making process (Selander, 2008).


Transforming and Forming


Students seek and transform as they cut and paste things from the Internet, but also make new information with more active hands on activities, such as interviews, making music, making film, or making a 3d object, (Selander, 2008).


Selander also suggests that students test by ‘means of memisis’ which means acting out real life scenarios however this “performative” aspect to meaning making is underdeveloped.


“Predefined goals are the opposite of free purposeful play”


“learning design sequences show that learning is multimedia and multimodal”


“ Even if goals are defined and are in a clear frame the possible way to those goals may differ a lot”


Play and learning both relate to a process of Identity Formations. In play and learning we create different kinds of identities, such as citizen, youngster, older person, parent, worker, ect.


Play and Learning Ludic Engagment


Selander argues that both play and learning involve a transformational process. Where meaning making is achieved through engagement, signs and symbols and artefacts.


He concludes his article by saying that the demands for future learning design is for learning to be synonymous with more ludic activities as opposed to formal learning structures in schools. This would make learning be seen as a creative transformational process.


Therefore it requires “design thinking that is not restrained by a given frame instead sees potential for change and combines multileveled structures with relevance, transparency, aesthetics, personal connectedness and social action space,” (Selander, p 151, 2008).


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