Archive of ‘INF541’ category

Chapter: Game based learning in secondary school libraries: Getting teacher librarians on board


A school library is a communal learning space where students can read, think, study, research, inquire, discuss, use technology and socialise. Secondary school libraries provide access to physical and digital learning spaces using a variety of print, digital and multimedia resources to support the curriculum and recreational needs of students and staff (Schultz-Jones & Oberg (2015). Traditional games have been played in school libraries for a long time and are recognised as instructional media (Elkins, 2015). Digital games have not always been embraced as enthusiastically due to negative perceptions by teacher librarians, parents and school administration however this is beginning to change. Recent research on game based learning (GBL) notes the positive effects games have on learning and the promotion of twenty-first century skills (Qian & Clark, 2016).

The provision of a range of multimodal resources, including games, can promote and develop multiliteracies (O’Connell, 2012) or new literacies that are required in today’s networked world. School libraries that restrict particular technology, such as digital games are at risk of alienating students who are exposed to diverse informal learning opportunities outside of school (Gee, 2012). Teacher librarians who are willing to get on board to learn about, acknowledge the many barriers in their way and incorporate GBL into the school library have the opportunity to meet the diverse learning, social and information literacy needs of their students (Elkins, 2015).

Negative Perceptions of Digital Games

Mainstream media have a tendency to report on controversies or negative stories surrounding video games and blame them for violence, obesity, injuries, addiction, social isolation and aggressive behaviour in young people (Bourgonjon, 2011). Video games are part of popular culture, designed for leisure and entertainment, and not intentionally designed for learning (Becker, 2011). They are also commonly referred to in the education community as commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) digital games. COTS games are not designed for teaching but are increasingly utilised for game based learning (Van Eck, 2006) because they incorporate learning principles. Video games such as these attract persuasive and sometimes sensationalist commentary in the mainstream media that can influence the views of educators on the legitimacy of video games for learning. Another concern that surrounds video games is that of commercialisation, monetisation and the impact advertising may have on young people. The video game industry is a commercial industry and therefore markets its games and merchandise directly to young people for economic reasons (Ulicsak & Williamson, 2010) and this worries some educators. Excessive screen time and calls for limits to be placed on the amount of time young people spend using screen based technologies has become an issue with ubiquitous mobile devices. Balancing screen time between informal and formal learning causes some debate amongst parents and teachers. For educators that are unfamiliar with video games these negative mass media messages may be the only ones they are receiving about video games (Kirsch, 2014) and make them nervous of GBL.

The types of digital games available today are diverse. Educational games are designed to support teaching and learning with clear educational goals in mind. Educational games include edutainment games, serious games, simulations and epistemic games (Ulicsak & Williamson, 2010). Edutainment games were trailblazers in the early days of digital games but their reputation suffered when they failed to progress and engage players to the same extent as COTS games (Habgood & Ainsworth, 2011). Fun and learning were viewed by some game designers as being diametrically opposed and entertainment elements were considered necessary to make the learning palatable. The failure of many edutainment games is attributed to lack of intrinsic motivation, drill and skill learning principles, simple play, small budgets (Becker, 2010) and commercial interests taking precedence over educational theories (Squire & Patterson, 2011). These games rely on repetition and are based on behaviourist learning theory where learning is only transmitted (Ulicsak & Williamson, 2010). Sometimes these games are good learning tools but as games they are mediocre (Van Eck, 2006). Educators should be aware that a bad experience with one game should not be generalised to all games. Careful selection of games and alignment with chosen pedagogy is the key.

Positive Perceptions of Digital Games

The Digital Australia Report states that 68% of Australians play video games (Brand & Todhunter, 2015) and the Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015 reports 72% of American teenagers across the socio-economic spectrum play video games (Lenhart, 2015). The growing acceptance of game based learning by policy makers is partly due to recent research findings that games can be applied effectively for learning. Emphasis on Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and the forecast time to adoption of game based learning as two to three years according to the Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 Edition (Johnson, Adams & Haywood, 2011) have provided educators with further validation of game based learning.

Education is the main goal of serious games yet they borrow design approaches from commercial games to make them more engaging such as intrinsic motivation, fantasy, control, challenge, curiosity and competition (Brom, 2009). Gee states that “good video games incorporate good learning principles supported by current research in cognitive science” (Gee, 2005, p. 34). These principles align with established learning theories such as constructivism, cognitivism, sociocultural theory of learning and flow theory. This means that good games can provide authentic learning situations, promote social interactions, increase motivation, encourage higher-order thinking and foster twenty-first century skills (Qian & Clark, 2016). The effectiveness of game based learning is however dependent on the incorporation of game design elements and mechanics that are informed by learning theories (Plass, Homer & Kinzer, 2015). There is a growing acceptance amongst educators that game based learning can promote collaboration, problem solving and communication (Johnson, Adams & Haywood, 2011).

Contemporary COTS and serious games operate within a social context. In informal settings, games are social experiences for teenagers (Plass, Homer & Kinzer, 2015). Game forums, wikis, blogs, cheat sites and Youtube videos of game walkthroughs are part of a participatory learning culture. Players share their common interest of a game with other like-minded individuals, seek information and create knowledge in these virtual affinity spaces (Turkay, Hoffman, Kinzer, Chantes & Vicari 2014). They are learning a variety of skills, probably without even realising it. It is argued that games implemented by educators who are aware of these social aspects can teach social norms, practices (Plass, Homer & Kinzer, 2015) and twenty-first century skills. The learning potential of games is enhanced when sociocultural perspectives are recognised by the educator who then encourages social interaction through pedagogy and incorporation of participatory spaces outside of the game (Beavis et al., 2014).

Teacher librarians’ perceptions of digital games and game based learning

Alongside classroom teachers, teacher librarians are likely to share diverse opinions, attitudes, concerns, excitement, enthusiasm and trepidation about game based learning. (Hovious & Van Eck, 2015). It is expected that amongst the population of teacher librarians some will be games advocates, others anti-games and some will be in the middle without a strong opinion. Unfortunately there is a lack of research about the attitudes of teacher librarians to game based learning. Hovious & Van Eck conducted a survey of 117 teacher librarians in the United States and found that 42% of teacher librarians had used a digital game in the library and 41% had used a digital game for instruction in their lessons (2015). Although this small study cannot be widely extrapolated it does indicate that game based learning has not been fully embraced by all teacher librarians.

As discussed earlier attitudes to video games are often shaped by mass media and for some teacher librarians this may be their only exposure to information about games (Kirsch, 2014).

Teacher librarians who look beyond mass media reports by using their research skills to thoroughly examine the pros and cons of GBL using scholarly literature are more likely to consider GBL a viable strategy in their library.

Perceptions of where game based learning fits into the school library’s program may hinge on traditional views of the role of the library. Some educators may think “video games are too trivial a pursuit to bring into the library” (Adams, 2009, p. 676). Some members of the school community may see video games in the library as disruptive and counter to the purpose of serious study (Curry, 2013).

Teacher librarians may shy away from GBL because they have not been exposed to a broad range of games (Adams, 2009) and therefore are not aware of the learning opportunities they can leverage from them. On the other hand many teacher librarians have recognised the links GBL can have to literature, reading, information seeking and information literacy. (Elkins, 2005). Increasingly, anecdotal stories about game based learning occurring in school libraries feature in school library literature and at conferences. Research and government policy is helping to legitimise GBL and subsequently influencing teacher librarians’ perceptions (2011 innovating with technology games-based learning research trials: Findings to inform school practice, 2011).

Barriers to game based learning

Enthusiasm for GBL is increasing however there are challenges that teacher librarians may face when implementing it into their services and programs (Hovious & Van Eck, 2015). These challenges are often referred to in the literature as barriers or hurdles. van Rosmalen & Westera have identified four categories: expertise barriers, systemic barriers, financial barriers and technical barriers (2014).

Expertise barriers

Lack of knowledge about games, game culture and game based learning pedagogy is an impediment to the adoption of game based learning. 78% of active video game players in Australia are over 18 and the average age of a video game player is 33 (Brand & Todhunter 2015) but playing games for entertainment does not necessarily equate to experience with GBL. This statistic also indicates that 22% of adults do not play games and some of these will be teachers and teacher librarians. Digital games come in many formats and familiarity with one may not transfer to another format. Even if a teacher librarian is familiar with certain types games they may lack expertise in others. Research has found that some teachers feel anxious about loss of control of the learning environment and therefore lack confidence with implementing GBL (Beavis et al., 2014). Improving game literacy of teacher librarians can help overcome expertise barriers and can be addressed through professional development, a personal learning network (PLN) and during pre-service training of teacher librarians (van Rosmalen & Westera, 2014).

Systemic barriers

The structure of the school curriculum, dependence on external assessment and reliance on textbooks are cited as common barriers to GBL. Teacher librarians also have to overcome the problem of limited time allocations with classes. Lack of support from colleagues and school administration is another perceived barrier (Becker, 2010). Teacher librarians have some advantages in overcoming systemic barriers by having a space where all students can gather to access print collections, digital tools and play games (Curry, 2013). One way of overcoming systemic barriers would be to initially explore digital games as a lunchtime activity.

Financial barriers

Licensing agreements can be expensive and beyond the reach of some school budgets. Free online games are an alternative but need to be selected carefully. Teacher librarians should investigate whether special funding is available from education departments or their school.

Technical barriers

The infrastructure to run games is complex and often requires support from information technology experts. The increase in online games and apps for mobile devices has alleviated some technical barriers but can still constrain the less experienced teacher librarian.

Opportunities for Game Based Learning in the School Library

School libraries must adapt to meet the needs of their community by providing access to information in a variety of formats (O’Connell, 2012). School library collections include print, digital and multimedia resources that support learning, teaching and information literacy. Digital games therefore have a place in library collections just as books do (Gee, 2012).

Including resources that feature games and gaming such as fiction and non-fiction books, and magazines into the collection could encourage some reluctant readers (Elkins, 2015). Games are often incorporated in transmedia stories where narrative, social media, video, audio and games merge. Identifying suitable transmedia stories and promoting these to students is another way of encouraging reading in a different format.

The school library is also a social place where students can gather. The school library has always supported the recreational reading needs of students (as a way of improving literacy) and could do the same with recreational gaming (Hovious & Van Eck, 2015). This could be attempted in different ways such as providing a space for a game club to meet or hosting gaming tournaments (Elkins, 2015). The introduction of digital games into the library space may attract new library patrons and engage existing ones. Digital games can also “act as doorway into other channels of games literacy such as through blogs, wikis, reviews, films and even books” (Curry, 2013, para 7).

Makerspaces within libraries can support the creation of games with coding. While some staff input is required, peer-to-peer learning is encouraged (Belbin & Newcombe, 2013) across age groups. Students are driven by their interest and self-motivated in a hands on way.

Teacher librarians can use GBL to teach information literacy. Some games may only operate as drill and skill to teach library skills such as the Dewey Classification System and citation. COTS games and serious games can be used to teach information literacy because “information literacy competencies and research behaviors are an intrinsic part of many games” (Smale, 2011, p. 48). For example the quest game, The Legend of Zelda uses the same kind of research information process, as a student is encouraged to use: search for and collect information, select relevant resources and use the information to achieve their goal.


Game based learning within the school library may be daunting and confusing for some teacher librarians but they should get on board. Providing access to a range of print and digital resources is essential to meet the information needs of today’s connected learners. Teacher librarians can get on board with game based learning by being open-minded, willing to overcome barriers, prepared to learn through play, and by critically evaluating the latest research.



2011 innovating with technology games-based learning research trials: Findings to inform school practice. (2011). Retrieved from

Adams, S. S. (2009). The case for video games in libraries. Library Review, 58(3), 196-202. doi: 10.1108/00242530910942045

Beavis, C., Rowan, L., Dezuanni, M., McGillivray, C., O’Mara, J., Prestridge, S., … Zagami, J. (2014). Teachers’ beliefs about the possibilities and limitations of digital games in classrooms. E-Learning and Digital Media, 11(6), 569–581. doi:10.2304/elea.2014.11.6.569

Becker, K. (2010). Distinctions Between Games and Learning: A Review of Current Literature on Games. In Education Gaming and Cognition: Theories and Practice from the Learning Sciences (pp. 22-54). Hershey, PA, USA: IGI Global.

Belbin, N., & Newcombe, P. A. T. (2013). Fab Labs at the Library. Education Digest, 78(7), 65-68.

Brand, J. E., & Todhunter, S. (2015). Digital Australia Report. Retrieved from

Brom, C., Šisler, V., & Slavík, R. (2010). Implementing digital game-based learning in schools: augmented learning environment of ‘Europe 2045’. Multimedia Systems, 16(1), 23-41. doi:10.1007/s00530-009-0174-0

Curry, H. (2013). Games and learning: Having control and having the controller. Connections(86) Retrieved from

Elkins, A. J. (2015). Let’s play! Knowledge Quest, 43(5), 58-63.

Extra Credits. [Screen name]. (2014, May 14). Education: 21st century skills [Video file]. Retrieved from

Gee, J. P. (2005). Good video games and good learning. Retrieved from

Gee, J. P. (2012). Digital games and libraries. Knowledge Quest, 41(1), 60-64.

Golding, D. (n.d.). The end of gamers.  Retrieved from

Habgood, M. P. J., & Ainsworth, S. E. (2011). Motivating Children to Learn Effectively: Exploring the Value of Intrinsic Integration in Educational Games. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20(2), 169-206. doi:10.1080/10508406.2010.508029

Hovious, A. S., & Van Eck, R.,N. (2015). Digital games or 21st-century learning: Teacher librarians’ beliefs and practices. Teacher Librarian, 42(5), 34-38. Retrieved from

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robinson, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Retrieved from

Johnson, L., Adams, S., & Haywood, K. (2011). The NMC Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 Edition. Retrieved from

Lenhart, A. (2015). Teens, social media & technology overview 2015. Retrieved from

Makerspaces Australia. (n.d.). What is a makerspace? Retrieved from

O’Connell, J. (2012). Learning without frontiers: school libraries and meta-literacy in action. Access, 26(1), 4-7.

Plass, J. L., Homer, B. D., & Kinzer, C. K. (2015). Foundations of Game-Based Learning. Educational Psychologist, 50(4), 258-283. doi:10.1080/00461520.2015.1122533

Qian, M., & Clark, K. R. (2016). Game-based Learning and 21st century skills: A review of recent research. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 50-58. doi:

Robson, D., Nicholson, S., & McPeek, D. (2014). In B. A Kirsch (Ed.), Games in Libraries. Retrieved from

Schultz-Jones, B., & Oberg, D. (2015). IFLA school library guidelines. Retrieved from

Smale, M. A. (2011). Learning through quests and contests: Games in information literacy instruction. Journal of Library Innovation, 2(2), 36-55. Retrieved from

Squire, K., & Patterson, N. (2011). Games and simulations in informal science education. In S. de Freitas, P. Maharg, & M. P. Dickey (Eds.), Digital games and learning. Retrieved from

Sun, C. (2014, June 11). Transmedia and education: How transmedia is changing the way we learn. Retrieved from

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(1/2), 2-22. doi:10.1080/07380569.2014.890879

Ulicsak, M., & Williamson, B. (2010). Computer games and learning: A Futurelab handbook.   Retrieved from

van Rosmalen, P., & Westera, W. (2014). Introducing serious games with Wikis: empowering the teacher with simple technologies. Interactive Learning Environments, 22(5), 564-577. doi:10.1080/10494820.2012.707128

What is a personal learning network? (2015, March 10). Retrieved from

Critical Reflection

I was quite nervous when I embarked upon the subject Game Based Learning (INF541) and admitted this in my introductory forum post. My trepidation was due to my limited experience and knowledge of digital games. In Blog task 1 I stated that “my personal video game history was rather historical” (Malbon, 2017, para 1) and dated back to the 1980s.

Atari 2600 flickr photo by moparx shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

My professional exposure to game based learning (GBL) was limited to observing students playing both educational games and recreational games in the school library. My aims for INF541 were to:

  • overcome my lack of knowledge and experience of GBL
  • understand the applicability of games for learning within a library setting
  • be able to confidently share my learning with my colleagues

Although I could see the potential of integrating GBL, I felt unqualified to do so. I  also had some concerns about the challenging aspects of commercial-off-the- shelf (COTS) video games. Most of my views were informed by the mainstream media who are quick to blame video games for violence, obesity, injuries, addiction and aggressive behaviour in young people (Bourgonjon, 2011). I acknowledged that other teachers may share similar views as me in the blog post Social and cultural barriers and suggested strategies to overcome the negativity, barriers and tensions. One of these strategies was professional learning and I feel that I have made a good start by completing INF541 and will continue learning via my professional learning network (PLN) and the curation of my Pearltrees board on GBL.

Created by Karen Malbon

Games have their own literacy (Gee, 2012) and shared culture (Montola, 2012). I did not feel part of the culture of gaming, was unfamiliar with the language and lacked game literacy. In the blog post Learning a new language I wrote of how overwhelmed I was by acronyms and the steep learning curve to understand ludology. I created a glossary so that I could make sense of the module readings that were filled with unfamiliar language. I delved into the participatory spaces, also known as affinity spaces, where players share and create knowledge about their common interest using wikis, forums and videos (Gee, 2012). In the blog post Information behaviour I curated two Pearltrees boards to illustrate the interest driven communities for Minecraft and 80 Days. As an information professional I was impressed by information behaviour that contributed to these sites and could see parallels to information seeking in the library (Adams, 2009).

Created by Karen Malbon

The links of game mechanics, game design characteristics and game infrastructure, motivation and engagement to learning became clearer to me after playing Ingress, Spent, Free Rice and by watching walkthroughs of Minecraft, Firewatch and 80 Days. My novice journey as Agent Kleem9 with the location based multiplayer game (LBMG) Ingress was documented in the blog post Ingress. As I began to understand the mechanics of playing Ingress and received instant feedback on my actions, I became immersed in the virtual world and motivated to play, level up and contribute to the narrative. I could see educational applications of Ingress for senior students in a variety of subject areas but at the same time I was concerned about privacy and safety issues (Hulsey & Reeves, 2014). I discussed these barriers to using games in schools in the forum with Lisa Nash (Nash, 2017).

Over the last twelve weeks I have not emerged as a gamer but I have achieved my aims and become more knowledgeable about GBL. I have been exposed to research and opposing viewpoints on the pedagogy of GBL and the link games have to existing educational learning theories. I have experienced the characteristics of games that can potentially make them motivating and engaging. The social-cultural aspect of gaming and the learning that happens outside of the game through affinity spaces is really exciting and as a teacher librarian I can see opportunities for libraries and teaching that I wish to investigate further and implement. Game Over? No way,  the game it is just paused so that I can learn more with evidence based research and play.


Adams, S. S. (2009). The case for video games in libraries. Library Review, 58(3), 196-202. doi: 10.1108/00242530910942045

Bourgonjon, J., Valcke, M., Soetaert, R., de Wever, B., & Schellens, T. (2011). Parental acceptance of digital game-based learning. Computers & Education, 57(1), 1434-1444. doi:

Gee, J. P. (2012). Digital games and libraries. Knowledge Quest, 41(1), 60-64.
Hulsey, N., & Reeves, J. (2014). The gift that keeps on giving: Google, ingress, and the gift of surveillance. Surveillance & Society, 12(3), 389-400. Retrieved from

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robinson, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Retrieved from

Malbon, K. (2017, March 4). Blog task 1 [Blog post]. Retreived from

Montola, M. (2011). Social Constructionism and Ludology. Simulation & Gaming, 43(3), 300-320. doi:10.1177/1046878111422111

Nash, L. (2017, April 24). Remediation and storytelling – Play Ingress, tell your story [Online forum comment]. Retreived from


Images created by Karen Malbon contain CC0 images from Pixabay


I attempted to explore Minecraft using the iPad version and did not make much progress. My lack of game literacy was laid bare as I tapped away and tried to make sense of the game without any instructions. I felt somewhat inadequate knowing that young children all over the world knew so much more than I did about this game. I watched some tutorials but even they assumed a certain amount of knowledge. I wanted to call on my nieces for help but time was against me as work and study took up more of my time. My Minecraft lesson will have to wait a few more weeks.

The following video looks at how Minecraft can be used in education.


Social and Cultural Barriers


The negative aspects of video games have tended to dominate popular media reports over the years with video games blamed for violence, obesity, injuries, addiction and aggressive behaviour in young people (Bourgonjon, 2011). Such media messages are hard for parents to ignore and are similar to the moral panic caused by the introduction of television. It is not surprising that some parents are dubious about game based learning being used in schools.

I agree with Bourgonjon (2011) that involving parents in the implementation of game based learning would be advantageous and help to address parental concerns. Strategies could include:

  • Parent information evening
  • Game workshops for parents
  • Documenting game based learning with photographs and videos and communicating them through the school’s social media channels and/or newsletters
  • Game based learning section on the school website or learning management system

Teachers may also share some negative opinions of game based learning. Strategies to overcome these could include:

  • Professional learning
  • Observing other teachers using game based learning
  • Disseminating literature and research about game based learning
  • Sharing videos of teachers in other schools using game based learning
  • Team teaching

Good communication with all members of the school community is vital when introducing any new pedagogical approach.


Bourgonjon, J., Valcke, M., Soetaert, R., de Wever, B., & Schellens, T. (2011). Parental acceptance of digital game-based learning. Computers & Education, 57(1), 1434-1444. doi:



Information Behaviour

I took up the challenge in module 4.1 to select a game from the top ten list of AAA titles and an interactive fiction game and explore the communities, networks and knowledge systems that support them. From the top ten AAA titles I chose Minecraft and the interactive fiction game I chose was 80 Days.

I am familiar with web communities in general but because I do not play digital games I had never encountered game related communities. Interest-driven sites or affinity spaces are where players go to engage further with the game (Gee, 2012). These affinity spaces include forums, wikis, cheats, videos, reviews, fan-fiction, mods and social media.

Affinity spaces offer powerful opportunities for learning, Gee argues, because they are sustained by common endeavors that bridge differences—age, class, race, gender, and educational level—and because people can participate in various ways according to their skills and interests, because they depend on peer-to-peer teaching with each participant constantly motivated to acquire new knowledge or refine their existing skills, and because they allow each participant to feel like an expert while tapping the expertise of others.  (Jenkins, Weigel, Clinton & Robinson, 2009)

I have curated two Pearltrees boards to illustrate these communities and the enormous amount of time and effort players go to to expand upon their game experience, learn more about their chosen games and help others.


Minecraft, by karenmalbon

80 Days (Interactive fiction)

80 Days, by karenmalbon

As an individual and an information professional I relate to this kind of information seeking behaviour. After I watch a film or read a book I often want to learn more and delve deeper into the themes, location and setting by reading reviews and forum postings. I am a consumer and have not become an active participant or creator by contributing to such spaces. I admire the passion that many game players have to contribute to such knowledge networks.


Gee, J. P. (2012). Digital games and libraries. Knowledge Quest, 41(1), 60-64.

Henry Jenkins , R. P., Margaret Weigel, Katie Clinton, Alice Robinson. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Retrieved from

Types of Gamers

I studied Psychology as part of my undergraduate degree so I was drawn to the readings on game and player types. In 1996 Bartle recognised that not all players are the same and devised a taxonomy of player types. This video explains his theory.

Retrieved from

Westwood & Griffiths (2010) describe six types of gamers and infer that they prefer certain types of games.

Created by K. Malbon

Player types serve as a guide for game designers in developing games but they can also be of use to educators. Educators need to be aware that just as students like different genres of books and movies, they may prefer certain genres of games. This has implications for game based learning because one game will not necessarily motivate or engage every student. It also highlights how difficult it is to design educational games to meet pedagogical goals. Such challenges were evident in the study by Markey & Leeder (2011) where a game was built to teach information literacy concepts.


Markey, K., & Leeder, C. (2011). Students’ behaviour playing an online information literacy game. Journal of Information Literacy, 5(2), 46-65.

Westwood, D., & Griffiths, M. D. (2010). The Role of Structural Characteristics in Video-Game Play Motivation: A Q-Methodology Study. CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 13(5), 581-585. doi:10.1089/cyber.2009.0361


Chapter Proposal

When I began this subject my knowledge of game based learning was very limited. I was not an active player and was mostly oblivious to the complexities of games, gaming culture and educational use of games. I think other teacher librarians may also be in the same situation. My chapter proposal reflects my own need to learn more about game based learning in school libraries and I feel it could be of value to others in the profession too.


Title: Game based learning in secondary school libraries: Getting teacher librarians on board

School libraries are a communal space where students can read, study, research, discuss, use technology and socialise. Secondary school libraries provide access to a variety of print, digital and multimedia resources to support the curriculum and recreational needs of students and staff. Access to a range of multimodal resources promotes and develops multiliteracies (O’Connell, 2012). Traditional games have been used in school libraries for a long time and are recognised as instructional media (Elkins, 2015). Digital games have not always been embraced as enthusiastically due to negative perceptions by teacher librarians, parents and school administration however this is starting to change. Recent research on game based learning (GBL) notes the positive effects games have on learning and the promotion of twenty-first century skills (Qian & Clark, 2016). School libraries that restrict particular technology, such as digital games are at risk of alienating students that are exposed to diverse learning opportunities outside of school. Teacher librarians who are willing to learn about and incorporate GBL into the school library have the opportunity to meet the diverse learning and social needs of their students (Elkins, 2015).

Chapter Focus:

  • perception of game based learning (GBL) amongst teacher librarians
  • exploration of any negative views held about GBL
  • school libraries’ role in providing access to multimodal resources to support the curriculum and recreational needs of students and staff
  • school library as a social place
  • positive features of GBL for literacy and general capabilities (twenty-first century skills)
  • ways in which GBL could be implemented in secondary school libraries
  • barriers that may be encountered and possible suggestions for overcoming them
  • professional learning required by teacher librarians to support GBL in libraries


Elkins, A. J. (2015). LETS PLAY! Knowledge Quest, 43(5), 58-63.

O’Connell, J. (2012). Learning without frontiers: school libraries and meta-literacy in action. Access, 26(1), 4-7.

Qian, M., & Clark, K. R. (2016). Game-based Learning and 21st century skills: A review of recent research. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 50-58. doi:

Why are digital games so enjoyable?

Playing Candy Crush on ipad flickr photo by m01229 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

I enjoy reading fiction in my leisure time because it is relaxing and allows me to leave my ordinary world behind and enter another. I empathise with characters, learn new things and experience a range of emotions through language and narrative. When I am immersed in an enthralling storyline nothing else matters. Reading is mostly a solitary activity for me but can also be social through discussions of books with family and friends either face-to-face or online.

While reading the article The structural characteristics of video games: a psycho-structural analysis (Wood, Griffiths, Chappell & Davies, 2004) it struck me that game players enjoy video games for many of the same reasons that I enjoy reading fiction. According to the article the following psychological features contribute to the enjoyment of games:

  • ability to enter a fantasy world and escape from our ordinary lives
  • losing track of time when playing
  • impact on our mood, emotions and arousal levels

These psychological features sound very familiar to me as a fiction reader and help me to understand why games are such a compelling leisure activity for so many people.

I spoke to three mature digital game players (40 years plus) about the features of digital games that were important to them. Two played various games on Facebook such as Candy Crush, Farmville and Criminal Case and the other played chess online against other people. The chess player was competitive and wanted to achieve a high ranking, while the other two said competing or interacting with/against friends was most important to them. This illustrates the importance of the social side of games that Wood, Griffiths, Chappell & Davies allude to in the aforementioned article (2004). Realistic sound was a high ranking feature in their study, closely followed by graphics. Neither of these characteristics were deemed important to the three players I spoke to. Interestingly the two players of Facebook games mute the sound when they play as they find it annoying (and I would suggest unrealistic). All three said games were an enjoyable leisure time activity that they experienced daily if they had the time, just like I do with my reading.


Wood, R. T. A., Griffiths, M. D., Chappell, D., & Davies, M. N. O. (2004). The Structural Characteristics of Video Games: A Psycho-Structural Analysis. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7(1), 1-10. doi:10.1089/109493104322820057



This blog post documents my experience with the digital game Ingress. Ingress is a multiplayer location-based mobile game (LBMG) that utilises the features of mobile devices such as GPS and location data and adds augmented reality (Hulsey & Reeves, 2014). These technical features are combined with a detailed narrative supported by websites, videos and social media. The Ingress app requires the player to get outside and explore the real world using their mobile device to discover “portals” located at significant landmarks. The following beginners guide video explains Ingress in more detail.

Retrieved from

Resistance Agent kleem9’s experience with Ingress

Here is a timeline of my first encounter with Ingress. I was quite pleased that I figured out the basic features of the app and looked forward to having more time to explore the game over the Easter break as Resistance Agent kleem9.

My second attempt took a more targeted approach and I was so immersed that I lost track of time. I was thrilled when I levelled up and captured portals but disappointed that my attacks on enemy portals were unsuccessful. How could I improve?

I decided to utilise the community aspect of Ingress and joined the Resistance Melbourne Community. I participated in a new agent chat and found out that I was on the right track by hacking as many portals as I could and by capturing neutral portals. I also found out that I probably would not be successful in attacking enemy portals until I was level 6. I did a walk along the Yarra River at Heide and Fairfield with my sister (who was not interested in the game at all despite my attempts) to get more resources and access points.

I am already intrinsically motivated to exercise so I incorporated my play into my usual daily exercise routine and was was playing alone. I intended to keep playing the game for a few more days but I got sick and did not have the energy. Playing Ingress is time consuming and other interests compete especially when you are working full time and studying part time. The gaming experience was initially compelling but my interest waned as it became a bit repetitive.

Positive aspects of Ingress for me

  • physically active
  • enjoyed discovering new things in my neighbourhood
  • improved my navigational skills
  • could be played with family or friends
  • ability to connect to a community of players

Negative aspects of Ingress for me

  • resource heavy – battery life and data
  • Narrative did not appeal to me and was intimidating for a new player
  • Security – could I be tracked?
  • Time consuming

Educational applications

While playing Ingress it is clear that it could have educational applications in almost every subject area. Without much thought the following came to mind:

  • Geography – navigation, mapping and spatial skills
  • Mathematics  – measurement and geometry
  • History – stories behind landmarks, exploration of conflict
  • Art – study of landmarks artistic qualities, creation of artistic works based on the game
  • English – creative and non-fiction writing
  • Physical Education – exercise program
  • Online safety

A secondary school teacher at Eltham College in Melbourne has documented his experience in a blog post Ingress and education: The experiment

The article Ingress in Geography: Portals to academic success by Michael Davis describes a study done using Ingress with first year university students.




Hulsey, N., & Reeves, J. (2014). The gift that keeps on giving: Google, ingress, and the gift of surveillance. Surveillance & Society, 12(3), 389-400. Retrieved from

Augmented Reality

I don’t know much about augmented reality, the technology that augments the physical world with information, audio, vision or GPS data from virtual sources (“Augmented reality”, 2017). I have heard the term and read a few articles about it in the news but only have a basic understanding of it. Last year I watched on but didn’t get involved with Pokemon Go. I chuckled as I walked past people glued to their phones and wondered what all the fuss was about.

Last week I downloaded Ingress to my phone, put my headphones on and took a five kilometre walk around my neighbourhood figuring out how to hack portals and deploy resonators. To my utter surprise I really enjoyed the experience. I discovered places close to home that I didn’t know existed with the aid of the Ingress app that uses geo-location technologies of GPS, Google Maps and Google Streetview to guide you to portals within the game’s science fiction narrative. Stay tuned for more about my experiences with Ingress in a later blog post.

Now I can see the appeal of games that use augmented reality. Augmented reality can show you things that you are unaware of. I was excited by the application of augmented reality outlined by Jay David Bolter  (Art Line, 2013, June 3) where the physical and virtual world combine. Museums, galleries and sites of historical or cultural heritage can be enhanced using your own personal device using augmented reality technology. The video below shows one such example.

Augmented Reality Museum Mobile Application @ Stanford University from Sid Lee Labs on Vimeo.

It is difficult to predict what the future will hold for augmented reality and virtual reality but it looks exciting for games and education, as long as we are willing to accept change. This idea is explored in the following Ted Talk, Will virtual and augmented reality move us into the knowledge age?


Art Line [User name]. (2013, June 3). Jay David Bolter [Video file]. Retreived from

Augmented reality (2017, April 1). Retreived from

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