Introducing the Adult Play Network

The Adult Play Network is hosted by Andrew Walsh and Alex Moseley, both National Teaching Fellows. Follow Andrew at @Playbrarian on Twitter!

Adult Play. Go on… have a snigger! People see the phrase “adult play” and often associate it with something smutty or even kinky. But why should they? Why don’t we see adult play as normal, and as wide ranging, as children’s play?

Play can benefit us at work, in our research, in our teaching, at home and in our social lives. It’s good for teamworking and building relationships, communication, creativity, innovation, controlling stress, productivity, engagement… so many different things I daren’t try and list them all!

“Adult play” can be sexual, but it’s not the main aspect of it – even though we often think of that before anything else. It’s as though play is treated by society as “dirty” or “not for public view” because it isn’t easy to make money from it. Play isn’t acceptable for adults because it invests power in the players, not external agencies (and companies). Play disrupts, empowers, encourages activity that isn’t easy to generate money from. If we want to play in an acceptable manner for adults, we often have to hide behind hobbies, sports, crafts… play that is structured and packaged in a way that makes it easier to control perhaps?

I’ve been working around play in adults, particularly playful learning, for a while now, and I’d love to do my small bit in reclaiming “adult play”. As such, we’re currently trying to crowdfund the setting up of an international, online Adult Play Network – raising enough money to cover the first year’s platform fees.

The Adult Play Network will be an online platform focussing on sharing tips, ideas and training around adult play – bringing play to all aspects of adult life.  We aim to include:

  • Regular posts about playful practices in different areas of life and work
  • Regular playful challenges
  • Free short /  taster courses
  • Discussion areas
  • Online events integrated with the platform
  • Lots of ways of finding and talking to network members with similar interests (or geographical location).
  • PLUS access to longer member only courses (at an additional cost).

The first couple of online courses are included as rewards in the Kickstarter (link –, each run by an NTF (myself and Alex Moseley).

We can split the network into lots of different categories and groups, I’d be keen on including strands for play in HE and playful research, as well as more generic topics such as playful teaching and learning.

I know there are a lot of playful and creative people in the HE community out there (even if you don’t normally label your teaching or research as play), so it would be brilliant if lots of you could join us in reclaiming play from the world of children and making it acceptable for all of us to play more.

Text reads 'Adult Play Network' against a backdrop of building silhouettes

Covid-19: Collaboration, Opportunity, Virtual, Invention, Distance

This blog was contributed by Leisa Nichols-Drew, a Forensic Science Lecturer at De Montford University, and winner of both an NTF (2019) and a CATE (2018) award. Leisa is also a friend of the Committee of ANTF. Based in Leicester, which experienced an extended lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, Leisa was inspired to share with us her reflections on academic life during lockdown. Here, she shares her thoughts on Collaboration, Opportunity, Virtual, Invention, and Distance.

If you were asked to choose one word to describe the Covid-19 pandemic, what would your choice of word be? Unprecedented? Rainbow?

When reflecting on the last twelve weeks, I actually found this extremely difficult, to choose just one word, which resulted in me creating an acronym. This was in no way out of disrespect or failing to acknowledge the severity of this situation, it was a coping mechanism to summarise my personal snapshot of this time.

I am a new NTF (2019) and was fortunate to be in a CATE winning team (2018), so for me being part of the NTF-CATE network is a community of like-minded people, where uniting together and collaborating is key. Since 23rd March 2020, I believe ‘Collaboration’ has never been so relevant, whether it is colleagues pulling together, families living and working in one space, neighbours looking out for each other, and people clapping their appreciation on doorsteps for our key workers and NHS.

Additionally, this difficult time in my mind has given us an ‘Opportunity’, one to pause, to take a moment to think and reflect, develop, even to declutter, to try something new such as knitting, baking, or hair cutting!

One word that had to be included is ‘Virtual’, whether communicating in team meetings, informing each other in conferences, socializing with friends and relatives, participating in quizzes, fitness, choirs and even escape rooms online.

This brings me to ‘Invention’, as we have all had to change (whether we liked it or not) and find new ways to do our jobs, shop, home school, live, learn and work. For some, this may be for the better, when considering the positive impacts on wellbeing and reductions in travelling time. For others, the impacts may be longer lasting and uncertain.

Finally, I had to include ‘Distance’, not only the recommended two metres from one another, but the isolation I have felt from relatives, the people I work with, my students, even though ironically, we have never been more connected with technology. Even, events where we look forward to attending to celebrate together were cancelled, such as weddings, birthdays, graduations, concerts, holidays etc. When I had a bereavement at the beginning of lockdown, not being able to attend the funeral, to grieve together was unknown territory for my family, as I can imagine many others during this time.

Moving forward, whatever the next steps will be, this has made me realise the importance of contact, to rejoice when we can (and we will) be together again. Furthermore, be kind and thankful, to others and yourself.

Thank you for reading.

You can find out more about Leisa here: and follow her on @ForensicLeisa on Twitter

Photograph of Leisa Nichols-Drew

The National Teaching Repository

Thanks to Dr Dawne Irving-Bell for contributing information on the National Teaching Respository for this post. Dawne is based at Edge Hill University, and you can find her on Twitter @belld17. Follow the National Teaching Repository on @NTRepository

Citable, shareable and and discoverable, disseminating ideas that work”, the National Teaching Repository (NTR) is an open access online searchable database where tried and tested strategies ‘that work’ can be housed and harvested.

Context/Background: One aspect of my work in the CLT at Edge Hill University is to identify and collate notable good practice from external examiner reports, validation, and periodic review etc (work undertaken by AQDU) and then identify work that is suitable for dissemination outside of the faculty where it originated, from which I facilitate staff development events to support the effective dissemination of the very best ideas.

Developing the work further I initiated an institutional repository, where in addition to sharing practice, colleagues were able to gain recognition for their Learning and Teaching Practice, which they could then use in Performance Review, for promotion and for external awards such as FHEA and NTF. Also – informed by the data I was able to identify which items where of most interest to staff and when staff accessed the blog. As a result, I was able to schedule internal staff development activities accordingly.

Originating from work undertaken to share good practice across a single institution, I disseminated the model at AdvanceHE’s conference in Newcastle (2019). After this using funding I secured from Advance HE (a Good Practice Grant, 2020), and I’ve now developed the concept further to create a national repository.

The National Teaching Repository: The NTR is a space where colleagues can upload and share teaching resources, pedagogical research, approaches and ideas. Sharing these innovations and strategies will both help others and help contributors gain recognition, be acknowledged for and be able to show evidence of the impact of their work in practice. It is a database that anyone can search to access hands-on, practical ideas and resources, off the shelf ready to use or to adapt for implementation in their own settings. A repository that facilitates the ability to showcase practice in a range of non-traditional research formats including data, books, reports, code, videos, images, audio recordings, posters, and presentations.

The National Teaching Repository creates a central space where anyone with an interest in teaching and learning and supporting developments in this field can view, download, upload, share and browse the very best ideas. Either to use as ‘off the shelf’ transferable strategies for immediate direct application, or with adaption to meet the needs of their own context.

The aim of the repository is to share resources amongst teachers and researchers that will have a positive impact on teaching and learning. A space that facilitates the strategic implementation of effective interventions that lead to real improvements for students by providing access to high-quality support to as many colleagues as we can because ‘better’ support for staff enables ‘better’ outcomes for students. Within the repository we have created several folders called categories. You simply decide where your work sits best and upload. It is possible to have work that straddles two or more categories which is easy to do during the upload process and you can upload almost anything into the repository: Papers, Reports, Key Note Lectures, Power Point Presentations, Video, Teaching Resources and Materials. Use the categories and add key words to help people to find your work easily.

Our curators will help ensure your work is located in the most appropriate space and support you in making your work visible. You can link your work to your ORCID ID, request a unique DOI for each item you upload and altmetrics will help you to measure impact. The welcome information can be located here. We have curators and are supported by critical friends with affiliations from over 25 institutions and organisations.

CATE: I’m proud to be a part of the team who won a CATE Award earlier this year in recognition of innovative work that has had a demonstrable impact on teaching and learning. Sharing good practices in learning, teaching and assessment between the Centre for Learning and Teaching (CLT) and the Academic Quality and Development Unit (AQDU) was an aspect of that winning application. The links for quotes etc.. can be found here:

If you want to know more about the Repository, please contact Dawne directly on Otherwise, sign up and get sharing!

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