Podcasts, Talks, Workshops

Doing podcasts, giving talks and running workshops have been some of the most enjoyable aspects of my academic life. The list here illustrates the kinds of things I have done, without a lot of the usual accompanying detail.

I was delighted over this winter (2022-23) to have been invited onto numerous podcasts to talk about play in general, and The Value of Play in HE in particular. Some are still to be released into the wild but as soon as they are I will upload links here. Here you will find me chatting with

Rich Little, on his Ludicast heralding the future publication of Ludic Pedagogy, by Sharon Lauricella and Keith Edmunds, and for which I wrote the foreword

Christina Gessler, from the Academic Life podcast, supported by the New Books Network

Talks and Keynotes

Playful Practices, Proper Pedagogy University of Huddersfield, (December 2022)

Play: Fighting the Formula, Freeing the Soul. Art Of Management and Organization (AOMO) conference Art as Activism: Liverpool (August 2022)

Postcompulsory Play: Yes it is Proper Education. Keynote, Luminate conference on Unlocking Potential, Leeds (July 2022)

Playful and Game-Based Learning: Stories from a Scholarship Project, for Gamechangersfest (2021)

Keynote at the University of Surrey Excellence in Teaching Symposium, Surrey ExciTes, on playful learning (2021)

Opening address for the new academic year for the Politecnico di Torino; part of an ongoing collaboration around creative and critical thinking (2021)

Karaoke, Play and Other Existential Dilemmas. Keynote at the inaugural Professors at Play Playposium (2020)

Participating in the Playful Intercultural Dialogues series organised by the Playful University Platform (2020)

Getting Creative in Teaching for a Time of Crisis with Chrissi Nerantzi, for the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) (2020)

Keynote, Playful Learning Conference, Leicester (2019) with a wonderful review of the whole event, as well as my session, from Dr Julia Reeve

TEDX Bolton (2019)

Other events in 2019 included speaking at:

  • The Playful University conference (Aarhus, Denmark, August), opening the Playful Learning conference in Leicester (July), the Edinburgh Napier Learning & Teaching Conference (June), London Metropolitan University Working Together: Inspiring Students (June), the Sherif event for librarians Creative Engagement with Digital Resources (June).

Other keynotes prior to 2019 included

  • the HEA Conference (July 2017), National Playwork Conference, conferences at the Universities of Aberystwyth, Anglia Ruskin, Aston, Bedfordshire, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Cambridge School of Art, Chichester, Canterbury Christchurch, De Montfort University, Kingston, London South Bank University, Middlesex, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Surrey, Kingston, Warwick, Westminster, Wolverhampton and UAL.

Internationally, prior to 2019, engagements in the USA included

  • the Learning and the Brain conference, San Francisco (Feb 2018), at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, USA, (Sept 2016), workshops for the Universities of Virginia and Maryland and for knowledge exchange at the University of Pennsylvania (Sept 2016).


Staff development workshop on teaching playfully and creatively, as part of consultancy for UA92 (2022)

Creativity and Critical Thinking for Lehman College, part of CUNY, USA (2022)

Playful University Platform reading group discussion on Sutton-Smith’s The Ambiguity of Play (2022)

Presented The Value Of Play in HE headline findings at the Society for Research in Higher Education Conference, December 6-10, Re/Connecting, Re/building higher education in transformative times – their first ever online conference. (2021)

Two days of workshops for InGame at Abertay University, focussing on the combined use of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® and Co Design. (2021)

Play as Permeability at Designing for Emergence, DesignSkolen Kolding, Denmark

Online and in person workshops with the Artis Foundation on reviewing identity and mission through the dual lenses of LEGO®  SERIOUS PLAY® and Appreciative Inquiry (2021 and 2022)

Professional Development Workshop on The Value of Play in HE at the 35th British Academy of Management Conference. The theme for the conference was Recovering from Covid: Responsible Management and Reshaping the Economy. A massive and well attended event. 570 papers were presented over the four days, as well as 33 professional development workshops. Participants came from 40 countries were represented and over 35% of them were from outside the UK. 

Annual Markers Day workshops for the Society of Cosmetic Scientists.

I have run innumerable other workshops, independently and during my three decades working in HE institutions; they are not listed here.

Workshop Feedback and Testimonials

Alison, this was so very brilliant ! We really enjoyed your workshop. Thank you so much! (Suzette Ramsundar, Director, Office of Campus Life, Lehman College, NY)

The LEGO®  Method workshop was the best I’ve attended! It was fun, interactive, revealing and reflexive. I learnt a lot about myself and how others view the world. Alison is an excellent facilitator, knowledgeable, kind and encouraging. I highly recommend her workshop. Everyone should have the opportunity to ‘play’ and learn at work! (Dr Lisa Williams, Director methods@manchester)

Alison always brings a wealth of experience to our focus our discussions on what our professional training course could and should be offering. With her academic understanding of teaching, learning and evaluation of outcomes, Alison presents the issues in a very accessible creative and engaging way. I still cannot eat humus without remembering, with a wry smile, the exercise Alison gave us to improve our understanding of assessment criteria; fun and informative is Alison’s style. (Steve Barton, SCS)

I thoroughly enjoyed the session conducted by Alison James. It was an immensely useful and well-structured day. I particularly like the fact that, although Alison has conducted these sessions before, she manages to bring a fresh perspective each time, striking a perfect balance between informing her audience and inviting their comment and discussion. I look forward to future sessions! (Sue Holloway, SCS)

Alison, thank you so very much for a wonderful morning! I’ve had feedback from all saying how much they enjoyed it and they feel relaxed, ready and inspired”(Convenor, Artis, summer event 2021)

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