Using LEGO as a tool for developing research skills
Among all the techniques of scientific and practical cognition of the reality modeling methods are, perhaps, the most comprehensible for understanding and effective for memorizing.
They can be considered as universal, applied in the design of the working space, the modeling of new product samples, in strategic planning and economic forecasting, etc.
Among the wide range of modeling tools used in the design of business processes, there are some unusual. For example, during the internship of teachers of the School of Business BSU at De Montfort University (Leicester, United Kingdom) which took place from 16-22 of September 2018 within the framework of the international project “INNOVATIVE ICT EDUCATION FOR SOCIAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT” (IESED) co-financed by the ERASMUS + program (European Union) and focused on using innovative methods for teaching information technology disciplines, Belarusian teachers became familiar with the methodology of using Lego for conducting business games. A doctoral researcher Julia Reeve explained in detail the concept of training and conducted a practical lesson.
“LEGO” is an abbreviation derived from the two Danish words “leg godt”, i.e. literally "play with pleasure."
Gamification, as a widely available and creative approach to learning process, has worked well at all levels of education: from kindergarten to high school.
In 1932, the LEGO Group was founded by Ole Kirk Christiansen. Currently it is a modern international organization with offices around the world. The creation of an educational environment based on Lego’s practical approach is carried out by a structural unit of Lego Education. The main consumers of Lego are traditionally preschoolers and schoolchildren, respectively, training on how to use building kits is conducted among educators and teachers.
The fact that Lego can be applied in business education was announced 20 years ago by Johan Roos and Bart Victor. The LSP (Lego Serious Play) method was initially considered as a tool for developing business strategies.
The expediency of using LSP to implement the reflexive method of constructing metaphorical models was justified by British sociologist and media theorist David Gauntlett in «Creative Explorations: New Approaches to Identities and Audiences» (London: Routledge, 2007).
Along with the use of videos, diaries, collages and drawings, Lego constructor activates creative activities. The advantages of this tool are connected with the addition of kinesthetic thinking to the visual. So, Gaunlett pointed out that "passing through a thoughtful, physical process of creating something, individuals can think and make their thoughts, feelings or experiences manifest and tangible." Working in study groups on the LSP (Lego Serious Plays) methodology is seen as an alternative to traditional interviews and focus groups. Gaunlett’s work was highly acclaimed by the Council for Research in the Arts and Humanities.
The LSP method offers more in-depth and more personal learning than traditional. At the moment, it is used by government agencies, large banks, start-ups, international and manufacturing companies and has great potential for maximum interaction between the teams in any organization.
The practical implementation of the method for increasing business efficiency is disclosed, based on personal experience, by Per Kristiansen and Robert Rasmussen in the book «Building a better business using the Lego Serious Play method» (New York, 2014). The authors note that the LCP improves the quality of meetings, speeds up innovation processes, promotes team growth and improves communication.
The pedagogical technology of using Lego in classroom is so simple that the Julia Reev’s proposal to practice building models caused a slight mistrust in our team. However, at the end of the practical lesson, we estimated the potential of the proposed tool, applicable even in solving rather serious problems.
The fact is that LSP allows to look at familiar things from a different angle, simplify multi-component and difficult-to-understand tasks, and improve the skills of explanation and reflection. According to Julia Reev, the LSP method has been successfully applied at universities in England to study at all levels of education, not only for students, but also for the training of teachers with doctor degrees.
After coming back to Minsk the proposed methodology was immediately tested at School of Business of BSU. The curatorial hour in the 811 group (1st year BBA students) was chosen as an experimental platform.
The task for the students was formulated as follows: “Within 20 minutes, it is necessary to make a model out of the available Lego blocks that reflect the result of training at the School of Business.” At the same time, the constructed model had to be explained by deciphering both its individual elements and the concept as a whole. Parts of Lego students brought from homes. Having divided into teams and distributing individual parts, the students came up with the names of the teams and the overall solution strategy.
Students were able to immerse themselves in the creative process. As a result, all the teams successfully and enthusiastically coped with the task. An explanation of the models with a series of clarifying questions and answers took another 20 minutes. According to the results of the student vote, team named “E.V.olution 3D” won. Five participants of this team made a model of a high-tech ship sailing across the expanses of the ocean of knowledge. The route of the ship, according to first-year students, is similar to the trajectory of training in high school. On the long journey there are all sorts of difficulties and trials that the ship does not bypass, and with the help of built-in mechanisms it filters and processes into new knowledge and skills.
It should be noted that business games at School of Business are held for students of full-time and part-time higher education quite regularly. Both from an educational and educational point of view, their importance is generally recognized. It is possible to add the LSP method to the arsenal of methods used in teaching practice. The advantages of using Lego Serious Play are the ability to quickly establish social connections in a team, self-fulfillment of each participant, externalization of thinking, effective generation of new creative ideas, expanding the boundaries of familiar knowledge.