Building innovation with playshops

exploring: what playDUcation can be
engaging: an amazing space and creative toolset
learning: how to involve brilliant players

23. June 2011 by Bea Beste

„Béa, are you back from traveling? What are you doing these days?“ I get asked quite often. I love curiosity. But be warned, my answer to the first question may make you even more curious:

After three months of education expedition—traveling around the world in search of educational innovation and excellence—I know exactly what I want to create: playDUcation is going to become a new style of learning, an adventurous and game-based way to unfold your talents and discover skills and knowledge. playDUcation is going to be an educational enterprise driven by people who believe in the positive power of life-long learning, who believe that all people can achieve their full potential when driven by optimism, curiosity, and empowerment.

Our first goal is to help kids between 10 and 15. Kids who lost their motivation to learn and do not do well in school. What we want to offer them and their parents is an after-school tutoring program with a game-based learning approach. It will be delivered by excellent students and teachers-to-be, both in person and through social media.

There is no ready-made model to copy and paste. But I found lots of inspiration in the different places I visited and also elements to incorporate. What we do now is R&D and startup creation—by play. We do playshops and gamestorming, we use design thinking tools to create something out of nothing. And here are our playDUcative catalysts:

playshop Basti Hirsch Elke Loeptien Peter Bannert

Merging ideas in an open environment

Years ago, I thought innovation needs to take place behind closed doors. Now, I realize that involving outsiders can add invaluable power and speed to your ideas. We constantly find people who have an interest in wrapping their minds around the same issues. There’s a whole movement of people who want to merge the worlds of play and learning. I’m thankful and impressed what brilliant minds can produce in a short amount of time! I hope that each of the people so far involved feels my thankfulness immediately and also while reading this.

playroof Basti Hirsch Elke Loeptien Peter Bannert

Our Third Teacher lives above Berlin

It may seem almost too luxurious, but having an inspiring space is a huge asset. The playDUcation office and its sunny rooftop contribute much to our well-being and wide open minds. We even have a magic red kitchen from IKEA for cooking up more than ideas!

playducation kitchen küche

Grasping things helps us grasp ideas

The big table below is our most-prized possession. Basti and I found it by chance a month ago. It’s an exhibition piece from a furniture store that they had just put on sale. We both knew immediately: It’s going to be ours! It came with 15 wooden panels that show the different colors it’s available in as well as six different legs.

playdesk playducation tisch

Calling it our PlayDesk, we hide little drawings below the panels to make introductory rounds more fun. You pick a color, take out the drawing and then have to introduce yourself connected to what you see.


White walls soon fill with ideas

Another creative asset in our playshops are the so-called “Easyflip”. With their help we simply transformed all our walls into giant flip charts. Idea Paint to write on is cool, but the ability to move parts of ideas from one wall to another and create a new context all around them is even better!


Enlightenment through quotations

My good old ZettelZ Lamp by Ingo Maurer offers us an inspirational bon mot each time we look up. When somebody particularly likes one of the quotations, they take it down and offer another one to put up. What also happens is that our web resident Basti takes small insights from our playshops and tweets them out to the world.


Overall it’s been an exhilarating and fun process. We’re building a new approach to learning in an atmosphere of play. We’re on the way to prototype our game-based tutoring approach. We’re glad to share our ideas. And we’re open to your input: If you have questions to ask or answers to share, please let us know!


We’re also happy to invite guests to our future playshops. Best get in touch through Facebook or Twitter and let us know what you would bring to the table. Rest assured: Once you stand on the roof and enjoy the view, you will be glad you wrote us.


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