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

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!

National Teaching Repository logo

Shining a light on ‘hidden heroes’

Author: Dr Julie Hulme (NTF 2016, Keele University, find her on Twitter @JulieH_Psyc)

During the COVID19 quarantine period, there’s been a lot of attention paid to the ‘hidden heroes’ who make our society function. Rounds of well-deserved applause for keyworkers, including those working within the NHS, but also carers, bin collection crews, cleaners, supermarket workers and delivery drivers have swept across the UK.

Within UK Higher Education, the highest accolades for recognition of educational excellence include the National Teaching Fellowships (NTFs) and Collaborative And Team Excellence (CATE) awards co-ordinated by Advance HE. The proudest moment in my career to date was standing on the stage at Merchant Taylor’s Hall in London, nervously receiving my NTF award.

But what happens next? The applause settles, the ecstatic award winners travel home, and those excellent teachers return to their day jobs. We carry on, making a difference every day to our students and our colleagues, impacting on the sector, often in quiet ways that may not be noticed. Some of us remain the spotlight – we all know some NTFs and CATE winners who inspire us at conferences, on Twitter, and through high profile papers. But some are hidden heroes, those who are more humble and less noticeable, and as a community (the Association of NTFs and CATE, ANTF), we are keen to shine a light on these people, and their work. We benefit collectively from hearing about their work and their ideas.

The Committee of ANTF, then, would love to hear from YOU! Can you write us a blog? Can we share your event via our social media channels? Can we help you to disseminate your work to a wider audience? We’d love to raise the profile of you and your colleagues, to increase the impact you can have and help you make a bigger difference. We’re especially excited to share the work of our newest NTF and CATE winners! (Congratulations again!).

If you’d like to know more, or to submit a blog post for consideration, please email me. If you have something you’d like us to promote, please fill in the google form here. And if you would like to give a shout out to a ‘hidden hero’ of higher education, tag them and us in a tweet (find us on @NTF_Tweet), and we’ll retweet to shine a light on a new source of inspiration for the community. And please do encourage those quieter souls to get in touch with us too – we’re keen to support everyone to contribute to the community.