2024 UNL Playposium

Board game pieces

Using Gamification and Play in Higher Education

March 12-14, 2024


Hybrid Event: In-Person and Virtual Participation

All times are Central Daylight Time (utc -5)

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln invites passionate educators, researchers, and experts to join our Playposium on Using Gamification and Play in Higher Education. Higher education is rapidly evolving, and the incorporation of gamification and play in the college classroom has emerged as an exciting and effective approach to enhance student engagement, motivation, and learning outcomes. This symposium aims to bring together experts, educators, and researchers to share insights and best practices related to gamification, game-based learning, and the integration of play in higher education.

Registration is closed.

Keynote Speakers

Lisa Forbes, PhD, LPC

Lisa Forbes, PhD, LPC

Lisa Forbes, PhD, LPC is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Counseling Program at the University of Colorado Denver. Lisa is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Registered Play Therapist. Lisa has a small side clinical practice doing play therapy with kids from 3-9-years old. Lisa’s research centers around intensive mothering practices, gender conformity, and mental health as well as play in teaching and learning. Lisa co-founded a global faculty group called Professors at Play which is a playful group of higher education professionals interested in play as a medium for learning and a professional mindset.

David Thomas, PhD

David Thomas, PhD

David Thomas, PhD is an expert on fun in the workplace, the architecture of fun and fun in general. He has written books about the aesthetics of games, how to have fun at work and a compendium of playful technique for the higher education classroom. When not researching, inventing and having fun, David is the executive director of online programs at the University of Denver, is an assistant professor, attendant, in the Department of Architecture at CU Denver and is the co-founder of the international organization Professors at Play. His research focuses on the architecture of fun and delves into the deep human connection with play and argues for the ability of fun transform our daily lives.

Pre-Playposium Improv Performance

March 12, 6:00-6:45 pm, East Campus Union, Great Plains A

“What’s the last text message you sent?" or "Where did you go on summer vacation?" With prompts like that, we’re off… Delivering a completely improvised, never-before-seen, and Occasionally Hilarious performance on the spot. We are Occasionally Hilarious — that’s OH! for short! And we’re an improv comedy performance group from Lincoln, Nebraska, that’s been performing together since 2018. Improv is a conversation that has never happened before, and never will again because we never know what the audience will give us. That's what makes it fun!

Post-Playposium Scavenger Hunt

March 14, 1:30-4:30 pm, East Campus Union, Great Plains Suite

Can't get enough play? Join us for a post-playposium parting activity! After our closing symposium session, attendees can sign up to participate in a scavenger hunt with small groups from 1:00-4:30. Space is limited!

Tentative Schedule

Instructor talking with a student in the classroom

March 12

Below are a few videos that you can watch at your convenience, starting on March 12th.

Monopoly in a Stratified Society, Carrie Hanson-Bradley

This video presentation discusses how a classic game can be adapted to demonstrate concepts of social stratification.

Using Movie Clips about Aliens (and Extraterrestrials) to teach Chemistry to Students of all Ages, Mark Griep

Sometimes the most captivating way to learn something about our world is to watch a movie about someone else's.

Using Videos to Get Students Engaged, Justine LaViolette

Music videos can be adapted to support learning by pairing earworms with earthworms (or bugs, in this case).

Instructor talking with students in the classroom

March 13

All sessions will take place in Great Plains C.

  • 8:30-8:45: Welcome to Playposium
  • 8:45-10:00: Keynote: The Brain at Play: Learning’s Best Friend (David Thomas and Lisa Forbes; Professors at Play, University of Colorado)
  • 10:00-10:30: Break
  • 10:30-11:15 The Practice of Play; (Nick Monk, UNL)
  • 11:15-12:00 A Muggle's Guide to Harry Potter's Chemistry (Rebecca Lai, UNL)
  • 12:00-1:00: Lunch
  • 1:00-1:45: Zombies in the Classroom: Use the Undead to Liven Up Your Teaching (Jacquelyn Omelian, UNL)
  • 1:45-2:00: Break
  • 2:00-4:00: Play Workshop (David Thomas and Lisa Forbes)
  • 4:15-5:00: Therapy Dogs
Instructor talking with students outside.

March 14

All sessions will take place in Great Plains C.

  • 8:15-8:30: Welcome to Day 2
  • 8:30-9:00: Support Universal Design for Learning with Play (Julia Remsik Larsen, UNL)
  • 9:00-9:30; Forensics/Entomology VR Project (Erin Bauer and Charles Murietta, UNL)
  • 9:30-9:45: Break
  • 9:45-10:15: Black Mirror as a Playful Tool (Erin Bauer, UNL)
  • 10:15-10:45: Mindfulness to create playful and safe classrooms (Ana Velez, UNL)
  • 10:45-11:00: Break
  • 11:00-11:30: "Yes, AND...": Improv Training for the Successful Student (Julie Uribe, UNL)
  • 11:30-12:00: Play in Economics (Jennifer Davidson, UNL)
  • 12:00-12:15: Wrapping up the Playposium

Thank you to our prize donors: