Overcoming Adversity in Education

Overcoming Adversity in Education presents experiences of adversity that encompass disability, race, sexuality, poverty, violence, and natural disasters (among others).

“Adversity refers to a ‘risk factor – condition, circumstance, situation, inequality, or event that threatens individuals’ learning, development, and achievement”.

This book edited by Andrew Holliman and Kieron Sheehy brings not only challenges but also alternatives for transformations. It is a fundamental set of studies that reflects on priorital needs together with opportunities to envison a better world through education.

The accepted version of Okada et. al. ‘s chapter  related to “emancipatory fun” in Brazil  is available in English and in Portuguese (Open schooling to empower Brazilian teachers: Emancipatory fun in education for a sustainable innovation ecosystem) https://oro.open.ac.uk/85248/

(Okada 2022)


The publishers’ final version of the chapter and also the whole e-book is available here: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003180029 

Fun and the benefits of Sign Supported Big Books in mainstream Indonesian kindergartens


Khofidotur, Rofiah; Sheehy, Kieron; Widayati, Sri and Budiyanto (2021). Fun and the benefits of Sign Supported Big Books in mainstream Indonesian kindergartens. International Journal of Early Years Education (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09669760.2021.1956440


Inclusive kindergarten provision remains relatively rare in Indonesia. This article indicates factors that contribute to this situation (stigmatisation, lack of resources and training) and reports on an approach to begin to address it. Sign Supported Big Books were evaluated in mainstream kindergartens (i.e. classes without children with special educational needs ) as a way of enhancing their inclusive affordances. These books used Signalong Indonesia, a keyword signing approach, to support whole class stories with 76 children in five kindergarten classes. Four classes used books with signs, and one used a book without signs as part of their everyday activities. Five teacher interviews suggested that the approach enhanced pupils’ engagement and was enjoyable and fun for pupils and teachers alike. There were also positive effects for children’s story comprehension and sign learning. The findings of this study support the novel position that having a disabled child in a class is not necessary in order to justify using an inclusive keyword signing approach. The implications of these findings are discussed for developing a proactive approach to facilitate inclusive practices in Indonesian kindergartens.

Factors and Recommendations to Support Students’ Enjoyment of Online Learning With Fun

A Mixed Method Study During COVID-19


Okada, Alexandra and Sheehy, Kieron (2020). Factors and Recommendations to Support Students’ Enjoyment of Online Learning With Fun: A Mixed Method Study During COVID-19. Frontiers in Education, 5(1), article no. 584351.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2020.584351


Understanding components that influence students’ enjoyment of distance higher education is increasingly important to enhance academic performance and retention. Although there is a growing body of research about students’ engagement with online learning, a research gap exists concerning whether fun affect students’ enjoyment. A contributing factor to this situation is that the meaning of fun in learning is unclear, and its possible role is controversial. This research is original in examining students’ views about fun and online learning, and influential components and connections. This study investigated the beliefs and attitudes of a sample of 551 distance education students including pre-services and in-service teachers, consultants and education professionals using a mixed-method approach. Quantitative and Qualitative data were generated through a self-reflective instrument during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings revealed that 88.77% of participants valued fun in online learning; linked to well-being, motivation and performance. However, 16.66% mentioned that fun within online learning could take the focus off their studies and result in distraction or loss of time. Principal component analysis revealed three groups of students who found (1) fun relevant in socio-constructivist learning (2) no fun in traditional transmissive learning and (3) disturbing fun in constructivist learning. This study also provides key recommendations extracted from participants’ views supported by consensual review for course teams, teaching staff and students to enhance online learning experiences with enjoyment and fun.

The value of fun in online learning

a study supported by responsible research and innovation and open data


Okada, Alexandra and Sheehy, Kieron (2020). The value of fun in online learning: a study supported by responsible research and innovation and open data. Revista e-Curriculum, 18(2) pp. 319–343.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.23925/1809-3876.2020v18i2p590-613


Okada, Alexandra and Sheehy, Kieron (2020). The value of fun in online learning: a study supported by responsible research and innovation and open data. Revista e-Curriculum, 18(2) pp. 319–343.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.23925/1809-3876.2020v18i2p590-613


Humanistic learner-centred curriculum approaches that use new technologies are vital as a response to a world dominated by grand challenges such as the COVID-19. This article examines the value of fun in distance education to promote student success and retention. Although the experience of fun is part of human nature, research in this area is sparse. This mixed-methods study, informed by Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and open data, focused on 206 students including teachers, consultants and education professionals. The results indicated that 91% of participants valued fun in online learning; highlighting well-being, motivation and performance. However, 17% believed that fun within learning could take the focus off their studies and result in distraction or loss of time. This article introduces the new concept of emancipatory fun and offers some educational recommendations

Portuguese Abstract – Abordagens curriculares mais humanistas centradas no aprendiz com tecnologias são vitais como uma resposta para o mundo dominado por grandes desafios, tais como a COVID-19. Este artigo examina o valor da diversão na Educação a Distância visando promover o sucesso dos estudantes e reduzir a evasão. Embora a experiência da diversão seja parte da natureza humana, pesquisas nessa área são escassas. Este estudo de métodos mistos apoiado pela Pesquisa e Inovação Responsáveis (RRI) e dados abertos focou 206 estudantes, incluindo professores, consultores e profissionais da educação. Os resultados indicaram que 91% dos participantes valorizaram a aprendizagem on-line divertida, destacando bem-estar, motivação e desempenho. Entretanto, 17% acreditaram que a diversão na aprendizagem poderia tirar o foco dos estudos, resultando em distração ou perda de tempo. Este artigo introduz o novo conceito de diversão emancipatória e oferece algumas recomendações

Creating a Framework of fun and Learning

Using Balloons to Build Consensus

Ferguson, RebeccaChilds, MarkOkada, AlexandraSheehy, KieronTatlow-Golden, Mimi and Childs, Anna (2020). Creating a Framework of fun and Learning: Using Balloons to Build Consensus. In: 14th European Conference on Games Based Learning – ECGBL 2020, 23-25 Sep 2020, Brighton (held virtually due to COVID).


The relationships between fun and learning are far from clear. Some argue that the two are mutually exclusive, while playful practitioners draw attention to links with motivation, exploration and creativity. This is an important issue in the context of games-based learning – should fun be emphasised, or should it be set aside in favour of other elements? In order to explore the relationships between learning and fun, it is first necessary to understand the meanings of ‘fun’, a term that previous studies have shown is interpreted in several distinct ways. In this paper, we explore a new approach to researching fun and learning, the Consensus Workshop. This method was used to address two research questions: ‘What elements of fun do a group of educational practitioners identify within a Consensus Workshop?’ and ‘How do participants see these elements translating to a learning scenario?’ It was also used to explore whether a Consensus Workshop can be used to collaboratively create a taxonomy of fun, and to identify any practical and conceptual barriers to this being done effectively. Participants in a Consensus Workshop used balloons to help them construct two typologies of fun and its relationship to learning. We evaluate this approach and its outcomes, identify elements of a future typology, examine how understandings of fun are shaped by context, and consider the ways in which participants linked fun and learning. The study highlights the importance of context to understandings of fun, and also finds indications that studies in this area are limited by a tendency to focus on socially acceptable views of fun and its relationship to learning. It finds that a Consensus Workshop has the potential to be used to create a taxonomy of fun. In this initial trial of the method, educational practitioners identified multiple elements of fun and made a range of connections between fun and learning.

Open schooling with inquiry maps in network education

Supporting Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and fun in learning


Okada, Alexandra; Quadros da Rosa, Luziana and Vieira de Souza, Marcio (2020). Open schooling with inquiry maps in network education: Supporting Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and fun in learning. Exitus, 10(1), article no. e020053.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.24065/2237-9460.2020v10n1ID1219

URL: http://ufopa.edu.br/portaldeperiodicos/index.php/r…


This article discusses the open schooling approach which has been promoted by the European Commission for preparing learners in cooperation with partners to develop real-world issue projects and shape a desirable future together. This approach is designed to engage all participants with RRI – Responsible Research and Innovation (EC, 2015). The objective of RRI is to align research and innovation with societal needs and sustainable development goals (UNESCO, 2015) through the interaction of researchers with society. Open schooling for RRI is considered an interactive approach to help youth develop knowledge, skills, attitude and values for the 21st century. This study presents some contributions of using inquiry mapping (OKADA, 2006) as a participatory research-action method to engage multi-partners in an open network. This exploratory study supported by a set of examples from the literature provides recommendations for developing inquiry-maps for open schooling in network projects and facilitates fun in learning.

[Portuguese Abstract – Este artigo discute a Escolarização Aberta que é uma abordagem promovida pela Comissão Europeia para preparar os estudantes em cooperação com parceiros para desenvolver projetos sobre questões do mundo real e construir juntos um futuro desejável. Essa abordagem foi projetada para envolver todos os participantes na RRI – Pesquisa e Inovação Responsáveis (EC, 2015). O objetivo da RRI é alinhar pesquisa e inovação com as necessidades da sociedade e com os objetivos de desenvolvimento sustentável (UNESCO, 2015) por meio da interação de pesquisadores com cidadãos. A Escolarização Aberta para a RRI é considerada uma abordagem interativa para ajudar os jovens a desenvolver conhecimentos, habilidades, atitudes e valores para o século 21. Este estudo apresenta algumas contribuições quanto ao uso de mapas de investigação (OKADA, 2006) como método participativo de pesquisa-ação para envolver múltiplos parceiros em uma rede aberta. Este estudo exploratório, apoiado por um conjunto de exemplos da literatura, fornece recomendações para o desenvolvimento de mapas de investigação para projetos de escolarização aberta em rede e facilita a diversão na aprendizagem.]