Jackie Marsh

Jackie Marsh

I am Professor of Education at the University of Sheffield. I am interested in children's development of digital literacies and creativity through their engagement in making and makerspaces.

Location University of Sheffield


  • No worries, it is absolutely fine to work at your own pace, Sharon!

  • Great idea, William!

  • I think there is room for both - tinkering with materials without a design plan to follow is important as it leads to ‘possibility thinking’ -‘what would happen if…’, and trial and error, experimentation, exploration are so important for creative thinking. But thinking through a design prior to making develops other skills, so should also be supported when...

  • Thanks, Karen, for those suggestions, which are really helpful.

  • Do let us know what you do, Intan, our contact page is here https://makerfutures.org/contact/

  • Thanks for all of the great ideas, everyone - keep them coming! :)

  • It is wonderful to see what a talented and creative bunch you are! I am sure with these experiences of making, you will be able to provide a firm foundation for others to make, whatever the context.

  • Hi Maxine - STEM is an acronym for 'Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics'. STEAM combines these areas with the Arts.

  • I agree with the points made about a maker mindset being valuable for all careers - and for life/ leisure. Creative thinking/problem-solving/ teamwork etc are so important and the more we can engage learners in maker activities from the early years, the better.

  • Hi Cora, yes, Alison Buxton has been undertaking some brilliant online makerspaces for children and families - sending them materials/ packs and then engaging in virtual sessions. They have worked really well but need a lot of preparation, as you might imagine.

  • Yes Helen, I think teachers have been amazingly creative through the pandemic, as have library and museum educators, community workers, and so on. We have had to find new ways of engaging with our various stakeholders and it has made many of us think 'outside of the box'. This may well change our practice forever. Alison Buxton, the Lead Educator for this...

  • That is a good point, Diksha, so we always plan maker pop-ups so that they are self-contained - participants would not have to come along to more than one to engage and learn, although if they do come to more than one, they are most welcome! So we tend to have particular themes linked to our pop-up makerspaces that can change each time, and can be linked to...

  • Sounds great, Karen, and each offers users something distinct also, which is valuable.

  • Hi Rebecca, that sounds great - we have developed our own Maker{Move} mobile makerspace that we can take to venues in the region - we are looking forward to engaging in face-to-face events again! See https://makerfutures.org/?strand=makermove

  • Hi Saman, I think that is an excellent suggestion - we need to trace the long-term impact of engagement in makerspaces on children's orientation to STEM learning.

  • That would be wonderful, Helen, intergenerational learning is so powerful!

  • Hi Holly, we offer more practical guidance on setting up a makerspace in Week 3.

  • Absolutely, Suzanna, I agree that giving sufficient time to explore the maker mindset is important.

  • Hi Holly, good question, which we consider in Week 3!

  • Hello everyone, it is wonderful to have such a diverse and international group on the course. I look forward to learning from your experiences as we progress!

  • That's nice - family play!

  • Really interesting thoughts on the topic - as many people have said, it is not 'either'/ 'or' - it is the quality of play that matters, whether digital or non-digital.

  • Good point re Wii, but they don't seem as popular any more - are children moving into virtual reality games instead?

  • Thank you for such fascinating examples, which have brought back memories for me! Thank for sharing these.

  • Hi Dorothy, children still play imaginatively with these kinds of things - a few weeks ago, my grandson played inside a 'volcano' made with an old clothes horse and sheet!

  • That is a nice example of the way in which some aspects of play remain consistent, Andrea. I would love to see the paper dolls Minecraft figures!

  • Hi, so glad you all enjoyed the week and we look forward to your discussions on next week's theme!

  • Thank you for your comments and hope you have plenty of opportunities to play in the future!

  • Good luck with your masters degree, Eva!

  • Thank you for all your wonderful feedback on the course! Thanks also for your participation, your comments have been so interesting.

  • Hope you recover fully soon, Sarah and thanks for the feedback!

  • Thanks for your comments, and for recommending the course to colleagues!

  • We are very pleased to hear about how valuable you have found the course. Thank you all for your contributions, as these have brought the material to life!

  • The 'Exploring Play' team is very sorry to hear of your loss, Tracie. Thank you for your contributions to the course, especially during this difficult time for you.

  • Thank you for your comments and your active participation in the course!

  • Thank you all for the great feedback on the course - we have really welcomed your active participation!

  • Sounds like a great place to work, Eileen!

  • Great project, Claire, thanks for sharing it!

  • Sounds like great fun, Jules!

  • Hi Lisa, this book is based on the study:

  • What beautiful puppets! Interesting history also, thank you.

  • Good point, Jo!

  • I agree that movement is essential for development. We would not advocate that children engage with screens all the time, healthy children also engage in physical play and activities. It is not a case of either/ or, I feel.

  • Hi Deborah, I think we discuss concerns in the video, regarding how far the apps foster creativity and innovation, or are they just 'gimmicky'. If you would like to read more about both the positive aspects and more limiting aspects of apps, please see the reports at: http://www.techandplay.org

  • Yes, Sepedi, it is a pity we have so many competing demands as adults that we cannot play as we used to!

  • Interesting comments, everyone. I agree that dolls and animals are common across cultures and across centuries...

  • Hi Nazmeen, yes, I loved making dens also and now my 3 year old grandson is re-introducing me to the fun involved in this!

  • Looks like great fun!

  • I think many would, Gemma.

  • Thank you for all of your contributions - we are building up a useful repository of information here!

  • Glad you have enjoyed the week and thank you for your valuable contributions to the discussion!

  • Hi Hannah, yes, our research suggests this is exactly what is happening - play evolves as societies change.

  • Hi Ann, that kind of play with dolls is quite common i.e. where girls draw on them etc. The history of transgressive doll play is also long - in this fascinating book, the author relates how girls used to engage in funeral play with their dolls in the 19th century:


  • Hi Marcela, that is common, I think! A good book on this subject is this one:


  • Hi Gillian and Jackie, we have Chris Bailey sharing his research on Minecraft in a future week, I think you will find that interesting,

  • could be! And we used to 'pat the dog', I would be interested in hearing the cheese version!

  • This is really interesting, Alison, and reflects our research. We completed a European study across 7 countries which indicated that even though children love technology, they spend a lot of time on other types of play - the report is here if anyone is interested -http://tinyurl.com/p46nedk

  • This is interesting, Jess, which games are the most common ones across the 11 nationalities?

  • Great that you have found all these types of play - let's keep going!

  • Hi Emma, only some types are disappearing, there are still many types of play still around that have been here for centuries!

  • Nice to remind us that adults also like songs and rhymes, Michell - we even see that with the chanting crowds at football matches in the UK!

  • Hi Gustavo, we have found in our research that children still have lots of fun and play today - it is just that some of that play looks different to our own childhoods!

  • Some great histories emerging, thanks for these contributions!

  • That is right, Glendy, toys often represent children's experiences of the culture at the time.

    I remember when I was young, I had a toy wooden mangle, a little like this one:

    Now some children in England are more likely to have something like...

  • Can you tell us about some of the toys the children make, Guadalupe?

  • Hi Jesus, it is always possible for teachers to introduce children to the toys that were a part of their cultures at one time, do schools do this in your area?

  • These are good distinctions, Susan, thank you. I was struck by how many people have said their parents created toys for them. This used to be the case much more than in current days, we have found in our research studies. Is that because of commercialisation, as you suggest, or because parents have less time these days to make toys? Or do we not learn...

  • Hi Sophie, if you wanted to talk to a few of our masters students about how they started, I am sure they would help, just post a comment asking for info on our Facebook page:

  • Fabulous, Migue, can you share the link to your interview, please?

  • Hi Sandie, I would recommend enrolling on another FutureLearn programme - good luck!

  • No that is not sad, Kay, learning is exciting at any age! Good luck with your future learning!

  • Hi Sibylle, I would suggest writing to the heads of the relevant departments in your local universities with an outline of what you could offer etc. Good luck with your work!

  • It was great to have you involved, Liz!

  • It will be up for a few weeks, I understand

  • Hi Sarah, we have a distance learning EdD (3 weekend study schools a year) that includes a pathway in Early Childhood, for those who have masters awards already and want further study!

  • It is wonderful how so many of you are saying you now wish to take another course - there are some great ones on FutureLearn, do have a browse!

  • Thanks Michele and we hope to welcome you back in 2015!

  • Hi Tina, yes, there is a difference in level in the BA and MA. An undergraduate degree is normally required first in order to study a masters. Could you ask at your nearest university if they have a BA in education?

  • You would be most welcome, Nicola!

  • Have a wonderful retirement, Sue!

  • Hi Kayleigh, please visit the link: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/play/statement-of-participation to find out more about the Statements of Participation.

  • No, sorry, we do not offer this as distance learning. You could try the Open University for such a course.

  • Great to see such expansive definitions of play!

  • Thanks for the suggestion, Ian.

  • Hi Susan, many of the articles are for download, just click on the linked papers.

  • Yes, great quote, Sarah!

  • That is fine Alessandra, everyone has their own approaches to the use of social media. For others, such issues are not as significant.

  • You could always organise one, Kayleigh!

  • Nice examples of play at work - which can be limited to language play and jokes, if nothing else!

  • Thanks for the examples of playful workspaces!

  • Apologies, but it can be found through accessing the journal itself if you or your institution has a subscription.

  • Hi Terri, everything you create will be original - no one has sewn that particular item before - and the artist who made quilts was creative. The distinction the arts council you mention was making was not between creative/ not creative, but their perception of art versus craft, which I agree sets up an unfortunate hierarchy.

  • I hope so, Laurelin! Thanks for your contributions!

  • Enjoy the new course, Dawn and thanks for recommending us!

  • Hi Dawn, that is nice to know, perhaps we might meet in Sheffield one day!

  • Good luck with achieving your goal, Tina!

  • Good luck with your plans, Laurelin, sounds great!

  • Enjoy the new course, Dawn and thanks for contributing to this one!

  • Your work colleagues sound like great sports, Kay!

  • Thank you for recommending the course to colleagues - we hope to re-run it some time in 2015.