Designing for Play & Learning: A New Approach to Experience Design
01/07/2020

Designing for Play & Learning: A New Approach to Experience Design

What does it mean to design for playful learning and what’s the best way to design a successful and engaging play experience?

Sid Muthyala
Written by
Sid Muthyala

What does it mean to design for playful learning and what’s the best way to design a successful and engaging play experience?

For us at LEGO Ventures we believe that play and learning go hand in hand, and that play is the most important tool to facilitate learning. However, this begs the question: how can learning facilitate play in turn? To help answer this question, we’ve created a template to help entrepreneurs and innovators design better playful learning experiences.

The goal for designing a wholesome and engaging “Learning through Play” experience begins with understanding the basic needs you’re looking to address. At LEGO Ventures, we’re deeply passionate about preparing children for their future by helping them think outside the box, problem solve creatively, and collaborate with those around them.

How can we reach children with new ways of learning through play and help them develop essential 21st century skills like creativity, curiosity, critical thinking, collaboration, confidence, and empathy?

5 characteristics of a successful play experience

(1) helps children find meaning in what they are doing or learning;

(2) helps with iterative thinking (experimentation, hypothesis testing, etc.);

(3) is a joyful experience;

(4) is socially interactive; and

(5) involves active, engaged, minds-on thinking.

Further to this, a successful lifelong learning experience helps children build and develop their Cognitive, Creative, Emotional, Social and Physical Skills. In the visual below, you can see how these features come together in creating a playful learning experience and instilling in the user a love for learning and play.

Linking play experience components with key 21st century skills

The Playful Learning Templates

Once done, take a step back and see how your idea fares — use these as a guide to tweak or add more of these elements into your concept/product. Don’t feel like you have to have something in all the areas, but use it as a guide to reflect and learn from. For me, it’s a quick gut check before diving in too deep; the more of these areas I’m able to address in my designs, the more confident I am about the finished outcome!