Guest Colloquium – Dr Ross Todd

Concerns around the future of education: How do we move forward? How do we cater for students who are born into a cyborg nation?

  • Break down of boundaries between human and machine
  • Technology is playing a critical role in challenging the ideas and notions that shape our very beings
  • How do we engage with technology with a focus on the ‘human’ being and foster the wellbeing of human kind.

Superconnected (2016)

  • How do we move to the future with the problematic break down about how we think about our life?
  • “Digital life is simply real life”
  • We talk about digital natives and digital citizens as though they are seperate – what are the problems around the use of those terms?

Human Agency is the key to digital futures

How do we use technology to disrupt our thinking?

Personal Agency – the human side of education

  • Role of encouraging and nurturing


Guest Colloquium – Rocket Shoes

Last week we had the privilege of having a guess colloquium with the owners of Rocket Shoes. The colloquium focused on a range of topics from owner IP to how block chain with change the way we view student work and their rights over the work. Some of my takeaways from the colloquium are as follows:

Platform Agnostic & Cloud Agnostic – Kieran Nolan discussed how within his school they are both platform and cloud agnostic meaning students can chose the best device and platform for the task they are completing. It did raise questions for me how teachers would deal with finding great applications across multiple platforms and teaching across a range of platforms.

Block Chain Agnostic – this discussion was my first interaction with block chain and developing my knowledge. The picture below was used to highlight the difference between what we currently use as part of web 2.0 and what the switch would be to web 3.0 and block chain technology.

Future Focused – A large part of the presentation was discussing Kieran’s work in his current setting. The picture below is a screen shot from the presentation discussing how work will look in 2028. It is constantly refreshing to consider that people within the education sector are thinking forward to what the future should and can look like.


Part A: Context and Rationale for GBL project

The Game 

Walkthrough 1

Game Play 1


The game, Sight Word Slam, was developed through a need for students to practice sight word recognition without a teacher present. The New South Wales English syllabus presents two main outcomes which this game is designed to reach;

  1. “Draws on an increasing range of skills and strategies to fluently read, view and comprehend a range of texts on less familiar topics in different media and technologies – EN1-4A (NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), 2016).
  2. “Uses a variety of strategies, including knowledge of sight words and letter–sound correspondences, to spell familiar words – EN1-5A (NESA, 2016)”
  3. “Composes texts using letters of consistent size and slope and uses digital technologies – EN1-3A (NESA, 2016)”

Although sight word slam was designed for Stage 1 students it can also meet the kindergarten outcomes stated below;

  1. “Demonstrates developing skills in using letters, simple sound blends and some sight words to represent known words when spelling – Ene-5A (NESA, 2016)”

The game could also be used within Stage 2 for students that are working below stage level.

Needs of the User

Prensky & Berry discuss student reading at length in their article about whether students that are “digital natives” think differently to adults who are “digital immigrants (Prensky & Berry, 2001).” Prensky states that students who are digital natives are not thinking in a linear style and their brain is being developed in a game or web-based process style (Prensky & Berry, 2001). Teachers have always taught students to read but developing these strategies in a game based manner could be the key to lock in student’s interest and attention. Students have a variety of needs; Sight Word Slam utilises a range of sight words with increasing difficulty based on the PM reader collection.

Game Design to Meet the Needs of the User

The game is designed with key principals in mind both from a teaching perspective and a game based perspective. According to Burgun, there are a series of rules game designers should follow to have an effective game design (Burgun, 2012). These are

  • Useful;
  • Beautiful;
  • Easy to use and Learn;
  • Efficient (Burgun, 2012).

Sight Word Slam is useful as it suits a need for teachers to practice sight words with multiple students at one time. The problem within the classroom environment is faced by many students are the are asked how they can meet the various needs of students in front of them. The game is beautiful in terms of the game rule sets that underpin the mechanics of the game (Burgun, 2012). The ability for students to pass through levels based on their ability to get more than 5 sight words correct allows for self monitoring. The lack of a timer on the game also gives students to practice their decoding skills which would be worked on with the teacher in small groups. Due Sight Word Slam being designed for young students it is imperative that the game is easy to play and learn. The game flows seamlessly into multiple levels allowing students to feel at ease with the rules. Additionally, the game follows the simple ‘click to next’ function to allow students to proceed through the game.

Game Principles

Whitton describes the 10 characteristics of effective games as:

  • Competition;
  • Challenge;
  • Exploration;
  • Fantasy;
  • Goals;
  • Interaction;
  • Outcomes;
  • People;
  • Rules; and
  • Safety (Whitton, 2009).

Sight Word Slam displays an effective use of these game mechanics and highlights their use to meet the needs of the intended audience. Competition is used throughout the game through a traditional sporting format. The use of the score variable also means a competitive aspect is present. The increase in challenging words as the game progresses demonstrates a challenge to students not only in how the game is presented; the balls becoming quicker; but also in the learning objective students are meeting. While the game as minimal aspects of exploration and fantasy Sight Word Slam was not intended to be a narrative game. The use of voice over throughout the game ensures students have a clear understanding of the aim and objective of the game and the interactivity is changed when students chose different options. For example, when a student clicks on a basketball that does not contain the correct spelling of a sight word the game switch to a different background, resets the score to zero and gives the student a different word to attempt. As mentioned previously the score is kept to give students a definite outcome which is measurable. The game is a single player game and has set rules. As the audience for the game is Stage 1 these rules were not explicitly written in the game format but could be clear after level one. Students are safe in the game as scratch does not require you to sign up to play a game that has been made prior.


Burgun, K. (2012). Game design theory: A new philosophy for understanding games: CRC Press.

NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA). (2016). English K-10 Syllabus. Retrieved from k10/content/875/

Prensky, M., & Berry, B. D. (2001). Do they really think differently. On the horizon, 9(6), 1-9.

Whitton, N. (2009). Learning with Digital Games : A Practical Guide to Engaging Students in Higher Education. London, UNITED KINGDOM: Taylor & Francis Group.










INF541 – Reflection

My learning curve throughout INF541 has been a steep one. My blog post (Ryall, 2018) highlights my lack of knowledge early in this subject and I reflected at each part along the process about my growth in knowledge. When I began the Game Based Learning (GBL) course the term was something that I had heard irregularly and in my mind mainly revolved around what I had seen of glimpses of Minecraft Education. As I started to learn more about games throughout the modules and analysed a game based on mechanics from Turkay, I began to see connections between learning outcomes and GBL (Turkay, Hoffman, Kinzer, Chantes, & Vicari, 2014).  This is highlighted in my final assessment as I sought to link the New South Wales syllabus for Stage One with a game based environment.

In my first reflection after reading module one I discussed how the use of board games and card games was a prominent part of my childhood while reflecting on Keen 4 as an early memory of using computer games. If you think to todays children the world is vastly different and students now have access to a whole host of games including some specifically designed for learning such as Minecraft for Education. This was highlighted in my reflection on my game design when I quoted Prensky who refers to today’s students as digital natives (Prensky, 2001). My aim throughout the course was always to learn more about how we can successfully cater for “Digital Natives (Prensky, 2001).

Discussion Board CSU 11 March 2018

 As my knowledge through the course grew and I became involved discussions with peers and became more aware of other gaming experiences.

Discussion Board CSU 13 March 2018

I found I connected with the literacy part of the course during module two as I began to make links with my school context. I thought deeply at narrative functions in games and the ability for narrative to support learning especially in literacy. Connolly, Stansfield and Boyle (Connolly, 2009) explained the overlap between ‘gaming literacy’ and ‘textual literacy’ and videos earlier in the module discussed how hard it is to master techniques of true emotional storytelling through narrative functions. Why can’t students, who sometimes have a simpler viewpoint than adults, attempt to use their knowledge of both games and writing to combine the two? I think as children get older they may have more of an understanding of both the gaming and literary world and find it easier to merge the two. As I had little knowledge on how I would go about creating a game, due to my limited knowledge, I steered away from the chance to create a storytelling game for my final project.

As I have continued along the journey my strong belief is that the vast experiences students come with to school should be harnessed. I still feel this resembles my belief about game based learning. That, if given the opportunity, students would really enjoy taking on multiple identifies while practicing what they have learnt within a context.

I reflect back on my knowledge and I know it has grown. I now quote Whitton when I refer to gaming elements and have a rich understanding of how game design stimulates player involvement (Whitton, 2009). I have enjoyed delving into the depths of GBL and the rich conversation which has been stimulated through discussions with my peers.



Connolly, T. (2009). Games-Based Learning Advancements for Multi-Sensory Human Computer Interfaces: Techniques and Effective Practices: Techniques and Effective Practices: IGI Global.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the horizon, 9(5), 1-6.

Turkay, S., Hoffman, D., Kinzer, C. K., Chantes, P., & Vicari, C. (2014). Toward Understanding the Potential of Games for Learning: Learning Theory, Game Design Characteristics, and Situating Video Games in Classrooms. Computers in the Schools, 31, 2-2), p.2-22. doi:10.1080/07380569.2014.890879

Whitton, N. (2009). Learning with Digital Games : A Practical Guide to Engaging Students in Higher Education. London, UNITED KINGDOM: Taylor & Francis Group.


Assignment 3: Game Proposal

Title: Sight Word Slam


Target: Year One Students


Learning Outcome: Draws on an increasing range of skills and strategies to fluently read, view and comprehend a range of texts on less familiar topics in different media and technologies EN1-4A (NSW Syllabus)


Platform: The game will be produced using scratch.


Game Proposal: My original proposal within the discussion forum was that Year 1 students would play a game of basketball (flick the ball to get it into the hoop) but they can only flick the ball once they have said the word to their multiplayer peer. My current idea would be that they play with a peer and have to say the word first to attain a point. This was still a work in progress because I would like it to be based around saying the word rather than spelling the word. I understand how to create a scoring system in scratch but the honesty system with young ones seemed a downfall. After receiving feedback from some other students within the discussion forum I have tweaked my game concept. The game will have three basketballs bouncing around the screen and clicking on the correct spelling of the sight word will result in the ball going towards the hoop and cheers being played. If the incorrect ball is clicked the player will receive a ‘try again’ message. This will allow the game to become a single player game but also so there is no downfall with young students keeping score or having a go when the other player is incorrect.


Game Based Elements: 

Learning Mechanics

Scoring – Outcomes (Self Regulation) Players will be able to self regulate throughout the game based on their feedback in the form of scoring throughout the game.

Game Mechanics:

Levelling Up – Players will have the chance for the game to progressively become harder as they move through levels. This will be in the form of more challenging sight words.



Assignment 1: Online Reflective Journal

We know games can be highly motivating,” she says. “We know the ways they are organised can lead to deeper factual and conceptual understanding, but we need to find ways to use them that are consistent with the ways teachers teach.” (Jennings, 2014)

You can walk into a classroom on any given day at my current school and see 4 teachers teaching the same content in totally different ways. Is anyone of them better? Are any students going to have a grasp of the concepts quicker? The hope would always be no – that no matter the way you teach the students walk away with an understanding of the content. But what that could be challenged? What if games could assist students to understand the content more deeply by applying their knowledge to game play and therefore real life situations. All these questions have come to in #INF541

My own experience with game based learning has been limited up until this point. I have seen some teachers integrate glimpses of games such as literacy word games in the early years to engage students, but in terms of what Jennings mentions in her article in relation to Minecraft my understanding is far short. Throughout module one I found perhaps the most interesting perspective very early on. The video was discussing games within the classroom in the clip ‘Playing Games In The Classroom and discussed that perhaps the most motivating factor a child could have is putting a game on a top shelf and saying you aren’t quiet old enough to play this yet (Big think, 2011). From the point within the module I felt compelled to give my students that experience and learn more about not only how games can be used within the education world but more importantly how they can be used in my classroom in my context.

My first interaction with games came at an early age in the form of Keen 4.

When I searched for information on Keen 4 little came up however I did find a website where you could play the game. Unfortunately, as I own a mac, many of the keys to make Keen move now change different settings on my laptop. My reminiscing was cut incredibly short.  What I did discover was that the game had a strong story telling element – one which I did not first recall in my memories of the game. As I skipped through the story telling element I reflected on what I have already read of module two.  As Tikka discusses traditional story telling in games is linked inherently with the game (Tikka, Kankaanranta, Nousiainen, & Hankala, 2009). As Keen gets into his spacecraft the storyline supports that. Suddenly I had a greater understanding of how hard it is to support the story line through games as I skipped right on through.

I am a stage 1 teacher at a “next generation” school in the Western Suburbs of Sydney. The school itself is in its early days, only opening last year and is doing things differently. We have a focus on general capabilities and are trying to develop creative and critical thinking students.

Personally, I am aiming to gain a deeper understanding of games and how they can be used in the classroom. As someone who has never owned a game console I found downloading Ingress this week slightly overwhelming in just understanding basic game play strategies. I hope to enlighten myself and journey through my current sense of misunderstanding. The challenges I face are similar to my aims. I am learning something new everyday in this unit and that excites my but also challenges me. I bring no prior knowledge to this unit so I feel that could be a challenge. One that I feel I can overcome with lots of reading and discussion with peers.



Reference List

Jenkins, H. [Smithsonian American Art Museum]. (2012, March 9). The Art of Video    Games: Interview with Henry Jenkins’. Retrieved from


Jennings, J. (2014, November 25). Teacher’s Reevaluate the Value of Video Games. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from


Tikka, S.-M., Kankaanranta, M., Nousiainen, T., & Hankala, M. (2009). Telling Stories with Digital Board Games.


Unknown. [Squakenet]. (2004, June 3). Commander Keen 4 GamePlay (PC Game, 1991). Retrieved from


Unknown. [Big Think]. (2011, July 5). Playing Games In The Classroom [Video File]. Retrieved from