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date_range Starts on October 19, 2015
event_note Ends on October 26, 2015
list 7 sequences
assignment Level : Intermediate
chat_bubble_outline Language : English
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credit_card Free access
verified_user Free certificate
timer 21 hours in total

About the content

Understanding the nature and value of play through the course of our lives, across cultures and communities.

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Play your part… Play the fool… All work and no play… Child’s play… Fair play… Play a joke… Play with fire… Play can seem to be a spontaneous and natural part of life, taking little effort and requiring little thought. In this course we aim to persuade you that, to the contrary, play is immensely varied, important and complex across the whole span of our lives. In this course we’ll introduce you to a range of play worlds and play lives. We’ll be taking in the history of play at the Museum of Childhood in London; discovering how everyday knowledge informs playfulness and imagination; visiting virtual worlds where the boundaries between fantasy and reality are blurred; exploring outdoor play spaces in towns, cities and parks; looking at how play spaces can be designed to encourage playfulness; and seeing what happens when players bend the rules. We’ll also look at play as the subject of serious study by talking to academics across a range of Social Sciences disciplines here at the University of Sheffield. We’ll discuss definitions of play and current debates about how the nature of play changes - does play help us to learn? Can it prepare young people to be successful in the adult world? How do we learn to subvert the rules? Are all forms of play good for us? We’ll also talk about the regular media panics about the presumed dangers of technology-related play, such as computer games. The knowledge that you gain from this course may inspire you to follow a career related to play, or in the creative industries; it may encourage you to be a more playful parent or carer, which is the foundation of bonding from the very first games of peek-a-boo; we may also persuade you that play is a fundamental part of innovation and creativity across a whole range of subjects, careers, disciplines and industries from fashion to engineering, from teaching to business. Through this course we hope to help you to think differently about play, and discover why something that is so often taken for granted is actually very important and significant to us all. Read more about this course on the FutureLearn blog.


  • Elizabeth Wood and Jackie Marsh



FutureLearn is a massive open online course (MOOC) learning platform founded in December 2012.

It is a company launched and wholly owned by The Open University in Milton Keynes, England. It is the first UK-led massive open online course learning platform, and as of March 2015 included 54 UK and international University partners and unlike similar platforms includes four non-university partners: the British Museum, the British Council, the British Library and the National Film and Television School.

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