Serious Play.

During this year’s playground at ISTE 2018 we are bringing the city of Chicago to life. We want to step away from focussing on the tools and instead emphasize on the learning experience. We want educators to come over and have fun, be inspired with practical ideas, and indulge in some serious play.

During one of our breakfast sessions we might have had one to many coffees, because once the theme of making the city in the city kicked off, ideas kept sparkling around the room.

What does an educator tourist do? How is technology involved into his everyday? How can we make this visit purposeful, meaningful and most of all educational?

I hope you feel as excited to visit us during #ISTE2018 and create your own professional learning experience filled with serious play.

Kurt Klynen

A Day In The Life.

Here is a glimpse in the day of our Learning Professional:

Hours of traveling have been hard on our hero’s body and the mere thought of a comforting bed is all that is keeping him on his feet. It all vanishes though when he steps off the plane and is greeted by the warmest welcome. The greeters offer him an interactive map of the city and his ticket to ride.

As he strolls out of the airport he gets into an “Uber Sphero” that takes him into the city.

Along the way his ride has to make a sudden stop for a crowd gathering on the street: The MeeBot Crew is having a dance battle. The music is blasting through the speakers and colourful confetti descents from the sky. At the helm of this musical kingdom is Grand Master Skoog scratching the crowd into euphoria.

A Walk In The Park.

Once all his baggage is unloaded, he eases on down the road to his first subway stop. While navigating the subway maze he pauses and observes the Learning Professionals campaign on the billboards in the passage ways. Beautiful black and white pictures tell the story of distinguished individuals who innovate through education.

His first stop leads him to the park where a kind and friendly artist invites him to draw a few lines on his iPad, snap some pictures with his camera and take in the beauty of the environment. The result is a stunning field guide filled with fantastic beasts and obscure plants. Each of them labelled in his new little notebook.

As a gift in return, the artist sketches a self portrait of our weary traveller on his MacBook using Keynote.

On his way out of the park a moment of Zen hits our creative friend. A calm and soothing sound glides into his ears and lures him to a group of yoga experts. They wave and suggest he should join. To do so he has to create his own Zen Garden soundtrack with the sounds of the park. He closes his eyes, focuses on the sounds and presses record.

Four O’Clock Coffee.

Fully relaxed and with a calming tune playing on his device he makes his way over to the Museum. The gigantic banner on the outside advertises the newest exhibit. It brings the paintings, dinosaurs and historical figures alive using augmented reality.

Eager to learn more about this phenomena our traveller gets onto the subway and steps off at the Library stop. Here he dives into a plethora of resources. All filled with inspiring ideas and easy to follow step-by-step guides. This trip has already been a success!

At four o’clock our coffee loving learner steps through the door of the most charming coffee place. Inspiring spaces, colourful designs and inspirational quotes greet him before he orders his cup of warm delight. While he sits down staring in the distance and reflecting about this day, a stranger walks up to him and asks if he wouldn’t mind answering a few questions.

The stranger turns out to be a reporter working for The Chicago Playground paper. He is writing an article about designing serious play in the city and would love to hear our Learning Professional’s opinion.

Genius Square.

A good conversation and delicious coffee later he gets up to continue his journey. He wanders around the city and almost feels like he gets lost until all of a sudden a bright light appears in the distance. Curious as he is, he picks up his pace arriving at Genius Square.

Genius Square is an oasis of screens, playing tutorials. You can spend your whole day here just learning the smallest tips and tricks that will gain you time and enhance your productivity.

In the middle of the square is a television crew that is about to wrap up their day and interview a lucky candidate on the street to present the weather report. The presenter looks up and sees our teacher stand out from the crowd. There is something special about an educator. Before he knows it, he stands in front a big green screen reading the text on the teleprompter in Pages.

As they say their goodbyes, one of the members points out a tiny little hole in the wall. She says ”Enter and join the learning experience”.

Enter and join the learning experience.

The Learning Professional


An uncomfortable feeling hits him. What is behind this door? Am I ready to learn more? A battle between his head and heart stirs up, but his gut eventually make him push the handle of the door and make that first step forward.

The door closes behind him and three options appear in front of him. Tall, high rise building like posters provide him choice: Speakers Hall, The Lab and The Arcade Hall. “What if I want to explore them all” he asks himself.

First up is Speakers Hall. This room has a tiny little stage where passionate educators from all over the world come to share their stories. Possibility, creativity and ability are just a few keywords to describe these fifteen minute sessions.

Located on the other side is the Lab. This is the hottest place in town to get hands-on and be a student of these distinguished ones. A place where teachers are learners first!

And then last but not least is the Arcade hall. A place filled with adventure, fun and gamification. Give your view on education a spin with Teacheropoly and try integrating play that takes technology skills to new levels. From board games to retro games. You can find it all here.

Learning Experience.

One of the fellow travellers advised him to go visit the tourist information point and ask for Siri. All through this day he has heard that name being pronounced, so he skipped out of this place over the musical hopscotch and off to meet the HomePod.

When he arrived at this station, a soft glow lured him in. A soft spoken voice ask him friendly how it could help him. He didn’t know what to ask first. Luckily he remembered writing down some commands in the library. He asked for the directions to the Ball Park. Siri immediately responded and transferred the map onto his watch. There was only one small thing he had to do along the way. He had to stop at the Hotspot and record his part of the living painting.

He kept his promise and walked over to this spot. He entered the recording booth, selected a piece of urban poetry and added his part to the story. Now he was free to visit the Ball Park.

Along the way to his final destination he listened for some interesting sounds in the city. He stopped and recorded these. Combined with the park sounds he made a quick detour and ended up at the famous Sounds City Studios.

The engineers here helped him create a soundscape that he could use later on when he was ready to sit down, reflect and create a memoir of this trip.


Under a loud cheer from the public in the stadium he arrived at the entrance gates. His ticket was punched and the million steps journey began. While arriving on the main floor he decided to make a loop through the stadium first.

As he manoeuvred through the masses a gentle tap on his shoulder stopped him. A kind young lady asked him if he would want to earn a signed shirt. Of course! Our hero accepted this challenge and before he knew he stood at third base ready to run to the home plate. All he had to do to get this souvenir was to get his heart rate to a hundred after the run.

He ran as fast a he could and even slid over the plate. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest. There was no way he would get this heartbeat down. Until all of a sudden he remembered his Zen Garden recording. He started the track and focussed on his breathing. One hundred and two, one hundred and one,… one hundred! he had done it! The signed baseball shirt was his. What a day!

Exhausted but fulfilled he jumped on the last subway and made his way back to the hotel. Once he arrived, he sat down in front of his typewriter, ready to write it all down and share with the world what an experience The Playground had been.

To be continued…