ETL507: Assessment 5: Part B – Classification

The Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) System is broken. It was constructed by a racist, sexist, antisemite, and the worldview of this despicable man (Ford, 2018) pervades the DDC. Men and women are not given equal treatment in DDC, and women are treated as second-class citizens (O’Hara, n.d.).

Heteronormativity in DDC

Heteronormativity is assumed; the first mentions of anyone ‘deviating’ from this expected norm were placed in “abnormal psychology” (Adler, 2017).  Even as sensibilities changed and being homosexual was no longer seen as deviance, it has been placed in 306.7 under sexual relations (306.76), instead of LGBTQIA people being placed under 305 with “groups of people” (O’Hara, n.d.). It also means that any books relating to LGBTQIA individuals are found in between books on prostitution (306.74) and books on fetishes (306.77/7) and the like (Adler, 2017).

Racism in DDC

Anyone that is not White American or European is considered “other” and relegated to the later sections of the DDC (Higgins, 2016, O’Hara, n.d.). Changes have been made to address some of the racism in the DDC, but it is insufficient because the scheme is based on a core of inherent racism (Furner, 2007).  In the hierarchical structure of the DDC (Hider, 2018), Christianity is given priority over all other religions with the Abrahamic religions occupying the span of 210-289 and all other religions being placed in 290-299 (Higgins, 2016). Racism and religion also collide when examining the DDC for First Nations religions.

Religions and DDC

In most libraries in Australia, and around the world (that use the DDC), First Nations Religions are not classified with the other religions in the 200s.  Instead, they are shelved in the 398 section for “Folklore” (OCLC, n.d.).  Specifically, Aboriginal Dreamtime stories are shelved under “398.2049915 – Aboriginal myths and legends” which is not giving the religion of Indigenous Australians the same degree of respect afforded to other religions (Sentance, 2017). Libraries have access to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library Information and Resource Network (ATSILIRN) protocols designed to help librarians work with Indigenous people and materials with respect, but very few libraries are implementing these protocols (Garwood-Houng, & Blackburn, 2014). Schools Cataloguing and Information Service (SCIS) (Schools Cataloguing and Information Service (SCIS), 2018) makes provision for Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories to be shelved in the 200s, using the retired Dewey number 298.  There is precedent and assistance for treating these materials with respect, but it is not widely practiced.

On my work placement, Aboriginal Dreamtime stories are intershelved with mythology, including books about vampires and urban legends in 398, instead of with religion books in the 200s.  In the picture below, taken on placement, stories on Aliens are shelved right next to Dreamtime stories, as are books of urban legends.  Following this number sequence there are books on zombies, vampires, dragons and nursery rhymes.

Bookshelf in the 398s

Also problematic is the use of book numbers.  As noted in my work placement assignment (Parnell, 2019, unpublished), this library uses the first three letters of the title of the book, rather than the author.  This leads to a lot of books about Aboriginal people having the book number “ABO”, which is offensive.  SCIS has provisions for book numbers that would normally use “ABO”, to use the book number “ABL” instead on books about Aboriginal people (SCIS, 2018).  This is also contradictory to Protocols 5.2 (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library, Information and Resource Network (ATSILIRN), 2012). My work placement library also used outdated subject headings and they have not been updated as DDC was updated. Mythology and legends headings are used rather than religion, when there is an appropriate subject heading available.

As a quick project, I checked the online catalogue of some of the libraries visited on study visits. The Sydney Mechanics School of Arts classified Aboriginal dreamtime books in the 200s (299).  The State Library of NSW uses a mix of numbers in the 290s and 398s, but most of the books fall under the number 398.

Where to now?

My critical look at the Dewey Decimal system began around the same time I started my teacher-librarianship course, in March 2018 at GLAMSLAM, after speaking to Elizabeth Smith about her tattoo (a Dewey number for the Shakespeare play, The Tempest). She expressed her conflicted feelings over the tattoo, since she looks at the Dewey system more critically now.  This started my own journey into critically analysing Dewey.  This theme of critical analysis continued through further professional development at CoGLAMeration 2018 and the Saturday School of Critical Librarianship. I have conducted my own mini-investigations into Library of Congress Subject Headings and Dewey Classifications for books on homosexuality.  I’ve examined SCIS cataloguing decisions with a critical eye and the nuances and idiosyncrasies of Dewey Classfication for a public library. I feel that I am well placed to approach any classification tasks in a school or public library with a critical eye.  However, as my preferred career path is to work in public libraries, I feel that my future work will involve campaigning for a change in classification for books on Aboriginal Dreamtime and a change in book numbers of books on Indigenous Australians that have the book number “ABO”.








ETL507: Assessment 5: Part B – Digital and Information Literacy


Literacy is a contentious and confusing term in our modern world. Belshaw (2014) states that the word literacy in our culture is seen as shorthand ‘the ability to read and write’, however this disguises the fact that literacy is a spectrum, rather than a binary concept. That is to say that there are not simply two states of being literate or illiterate, but that everyone is at a different point on the spectrum.  Literacy, when limited to the ability to read and write is confining and inaccurate. In the paste,  Aboriginal people were described as a “non-literate” people (Murray & White, 1988), despite the fact that they had developed complex systems of communication through songlines, stories, art and ceremonies.  They were, and are, a literate people, they just didn’t write things down on paper.  As such, I will stick with the definition I developed earlier in this course (Parnell, 2018) to say that literacy is the  spectrum of ability to complete a task.

Information Literacy

Information literacy is a high priority in today’s society and especially in schools.  In a modern world you can’t have information literacy without digital literacy.

Zurkowski (1974) was the first person to write about information literacy and he wrote that those who did not understand the value of information were informationally illiterate.  Today’s information landscape has become far more complex than that of 1974 when Zurkowski estimated that only a sixth of the population of the United States were informationally literate. Information literacy is vital, and our level of literacy impacts our whole lives, from decisions we make about our health (Akpan, N. 2019), down to the appliances we choose to buy and hotels we choose to stay in (Camilleri, 2019).

Obtaining information literacy is challenging in a world where the search engines we trust to obtain information for us are written with biased algorithms (Farkas, 2017).

Digital Literacy

There is a significant lack of consensus over what digital literacy is. Wolsen (2014) says digital literacy is essential but that no one knows what it means, while Petrov (2017) says there is no single definition of digital literacy, although it includes information literacy and goes beyond basic use to incorporate “harnessing” the power of technology across many areas of life. In a literature review examining skills needed for the future workforce, digital literacy defined as the fluency that enables users to access, and effectively use digital environments with confidence, and further develop these skills in the future (van Leer, van Deursen, van Dijk, & de Haan, 2017). This is consistent with Belshaw’s contention that acquiring digital literacies is a lifelong work (TedEx Talks, 2012) and is also supported by Beetham who says that digital literacy is a lifelong, personal pursuit as each and every person needs a different set of digital literacy skills to live out their daily lives (Pewhairangi, 2018).

Information and Digital Literacies and the Teacher Librarian

Information and digital literacies are the domain of the teacher librarian (Johnston, 2012) as the teacher librarian is the only expert in a school setting trained in information literacy instruction (Berg, Malvey & Donohue, 2018).  Teacher librarians have long been leaders in incorporating technology into the library and classroom (Belisle, 2004) and they have a responsibility to teach not only students, but teachers about integrating technology and encouraging digital literacy as teachers are often not digitally literate themselves (Urbani, Roshandel, Michaels,  & Truesdell, 2017).  

Without a foundation of information literacy in the early years, it is very hard to learn later on (Berg, Malvey & Donohue, 2018) so it is essential that teacher librarians assume not just responsibility for this area but leadership in this, within their schools (Johnston, 2012).

My Experiences and Plans

During my work placement I witnessed the impact of a lack of information and digital literacy on the lives of the library patrons.  While working on the front desk, I assisted patrons with basic tasks such as how to move to a new line when typing in a word processor (as the gentleman was retyping his resume from a copy someone had printed for him), and more complex tasks such as restoring a folder to the favourites section of Finder on their personal MacBook.  Technology support is in such high demand that Penrith City Library, where I completed my work placement, has a Tech Help Desk open 10am-12N, seven days a week.  This is in addition to classes such as Tech-Savvy Seniors, sponsored by the State Library of NSW.Tech Savvy Seniors BrochureDigital Help Desk

In my future work, I hope to be a champion for information literacy and digital literacy, whether I work in a school setting or a public library.  I hope to train other staff as well as students or patrons to research, search, and critically analyse information.  I have already shown my willingness and ability to do this as I developed a digital escape room for my INF541 Game Based Learning Assignment that focused on critically analysing information, through examining bias and primary vs secondary sources.

ETL507: Assessment 5: Part B – Collection Development

The creation of a collection development policy is an essential part of providing the school community with books and other resources.  A collection development policy succinctly defines who the resources will be provided for, which resources are collected and why (Johnson, 2014; Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) & Victorian Catholic Teacher Librarians (VCTL), 2017).  The collection development policy should be subordinate to the vision, mission and values of the school it serves (ALIA & VCTL, 2017) , so that the library becomes an essential part of the business of building lifelong learners.

Before I began this subject, I had no real concept of how collections were developed; I think I envisioned the teacher librarian browsing a bookshop and purchasing whatever looked “good”.  This certainly had an impact on the way I initially looked at resourcing curriculum areas (Parnell, 2018), and the way I initially approached my first assignment for ETL503.

Collection development can take many different forms and approaches, as seen on my work placement at Penrith City Library. As I worked with different people in different departments I came to see that they all had their own approaches to collection development within their own departments or domains. Ebooks are purchased based on whether the author is well known, whether it looks like it might circulate and making sure that the cover images are not “bodice rippers” that might offend patrons (J. Suckling, 2019, personal communication). In fact, I was encouraged to scroll through the newest offerings on an ebook platform and add items to the cart. There is no effort made to ensure that titles in a series are purchased or are all accessible, so books 3 and 4 of a series may be available as ebooks, but not 1 and 2.  In the children’s department, popular series titles are purchased at rates of upward of ten copies upon release, and series continuity is maintained (A. Dumas, 2019, personal communication).  Large print collection development is often limited to what is available in large print (K. Smith, 2019, personal communication).  In contrast to the disjointed approach to maintaining books in series, I learned from the study visits that both the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts library (Cathy, 2019, personal communication) and the City of Sydney library (L. Bacot, 2019, personal communication) prioritise keeping series intact.

There is an increasing trend for libraries to outsource their collection development work, something that the City of Sydney library does (L. Bacot, 2019, personal communication). This is usually justified as being more cost-effective, however the time taken to develop a written profile of the community the library serves, the borrowing habits and criteria for desired resources could negate much of the time saved, especially as this document would need to be updated regularly (Fieldhouse & Marshall, 2013). This practice also has some ethical implications, including the devaluing of the work of librarians and patron privacy (Buck, 2015).

My belief is that the people who should be in charge of collection development are the same people that directly serve the community the library is situated in.  No amount of community profiling can replace the personal knowledge of a librarian on the front desk.

In a school library, the library space and resource collection must reflect the focus and goals of the school it serves (Bentley, Pavey, Shaper, Todd, & Webb, 2016). This means that the library and the collection are supporting the aims of the school and are directly contributing to the work of the school, rather than having a teacher librarian alone in the library, doing her own thing.  This intentional action of bringing the library in line with the rest of the school may take some time and internal work, especially if the vision of the school for students (and therefore the library) doesn’t match with the teacher librarian’s vision for students, but bringing them into line is a valuable task (Platt, 2017). This alignment should also cause the senior management to look on the library more favourably, as it demonstrates genuine contribution to the goals of the school, which in turn would mean the library was looked upon kindly during conversations of budget and staffing (Bonnano, 2011).  Research has shown that teacher librarians who support the goals of the school, and take initiative and leadership roles in supporting these goals, are more likely to be valued by their school principals (Lupton, 2016).

In my future career as a librarian, I want to build a collection that is equitable and supports the aims of the organisation I work for, whether that be in a school, public library or other institution.  I will actively fight against the trend to outsource collection development, and advocate for the value that a trained librarian brings to the process of collection development (Weisburg, 2017).

ETL507: Assessment 5: Part A – Personal Philosophy

An effective teacher librarian has respect for all students and their rights as learners and readers.  She promotes equity of access for students to reading materials, learning resources and technology within the confines of the schools resources.  She supports school staff with quality resources (that are weeded regularly), training in technology and curriculum knowledge.  She knows the power of metadata and uses it to enhance and enrich the discovery layer of the catalogue and increase retrievability, serendipity and accessibility.  An effective teacher librarian is an essential player in a school who supports students, staff, management and the wider community in all teaching and learning activities.

ETL507: Assessment 5: References


Adler, M. (2017). Cruising the library: Perversities in the organization of knowledge. Oxford University Press.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library, Information and Resource Network – ATSILIRN (2012) The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protocols for Libraries, Archives and Information Services. Retrieved from

Akpan, N. [MoNscience] (2019, Jun 21) Let’s try an exercise that we would do in grad school. Can any science fans spot how this study’s methods/results don’t match its main takeaways? Retrieved from

Australian Library and Information Association (n.d. a) ALIA students and new graduates. Retrieved from

Australian Library and Information Association (n.d. b) Program committee Retrieved from

Australian Library and Information Association & Victorian Catholic Teacher Librarians (2017) A Manual for Developing Policies and Procedures in Australian School Library Resource Centres. 2nd Ed. [pdf] Retrieved from

Australian Library and Information Association and Australian School Library Association. (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from

Belshaw, D. (2014). The essential elements of digital literacies. Retrieved from

Belisle, C. A. H. (2004). The teacher as leader: Transformational leadership and the professional teacher or teacher-librarian. School Libraries in Canada Online, 24(3), 73-79.

Bentley, E., Pavey, S., Shaper, S., Todd, S., & Webb, C. (2016). The innovative school librarian. Retrieved from Proquest Ebooks

Berg, C., Malvey, D., & Donohue, M. (2018). Without foundations, we can’t build: Information literacy and the need for strong school library programs. In the Library with the Lead Pipe. Retrieved from

Bonnano, K. (2011) ASLA 2011. Karen Bonanno, Keynote speaker: A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan. [Video file]. Retrieved from: 

Buck, W. (2015) Privacy and Censorship: Another Look. Library Collections, Acquisitions, & Technical Services. 39(3-4), pp68-72, DOI: 10.1080/14649055.2016.1214520

Camilleri, A.R. (2019, Aug 13) How to spot a fake review: You’re probably worse at it than you realise. ABC News. Retrieved from

Degenhart, L., & Duignan, P. (2010) Dancing on a shifting carpet : Reinventing traditional schooling for the 21st century. Retrieved from

Farkas, M. (2017, Jan 3) Never Neutral: Critical librarianship and technology. American Libraries. Retrieved from

Fieldhouse, M., & Marshall, A. (Eds.). (2013). Collection development in the digital age. Retrieved from Proquest Ebooks

Ford, A. (2018, Jun 1) Bringing Harassment Out of the History Books. American Libraries. Retrieved from

Furner, J. (2007). Dewey deracialized: A critical race-theoretic perspective. Knowledge Organisation, 34(3), 144-168. Retrieved from

Garwood-Houng, A., & Blackburn, F. (2014) The ATSILIRN protocols: a twenty-first century guide to appropriate library services for and about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Australian Library Journal, 63:1, 4-15, DOI: 10.1080/00049670.2014.890018

Hider, P. (2018). Information resource description : Creating and managing metadata 2nd Ed. London: Facet Publishing. Retrieved from

Higgins, M. (2016). Totally Invisible: Asian American Representation in the Dewey Decimal Classification, 1876-1996. Knowledge Organization, 43(8), 609–621.

Johnston, M. P. (2012). School librarians as technology integration leaders: enablers and barriers to leadership enactment. School Library Research,15, 1–33. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Johnson, P. (2014). Fundamentals of collection development and management [American Library Association version]. Retrieved from Proquest Ebooks

Lupton, M. (2016). Adding Value: Principals’ perceptions of the role of the teacher-librarian. School Libraries Worldwide, 22(1), 49-61. doi:10.14265.22.1.005

Murray, R. & White, K. (1988) Dharug & Dungaree. The history of Penrith and St Marys to 1860. Hargreen Publishing Company, North Melbourne.

OCLC (n.d.) Web Dewey. Retrieved from

O’Hara, M. (n.d.) Bad Dewey. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2017, May 25) Why I want to be a librarian. Liz at the Library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018, Apr 10) Information Literacy – Module 5 – ETL401. Liz at the Library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2019, Aug 28) Module 4.2 – Teacher librarians as leaders. Liz at the Library. Retrieved from…rians-as-leaders/

Petrov, J. (2017). Digital literacy within the Victorian curriculum. Synergy, 15 (2). Retrieved from

Pewhairangi, S. (2018) 6 experts expose digital literacy mistakes and how to overcome them. The Library Boss. Retrieved from:

Platt, A. (2017) The challenge of implementing change. Connections. (103) Retrieved from

Schools Cataloguing and Information Service (2018) SCIS standards for cataloguing and data entry. [pdf file] Retrieved from

Sentance, N. (2017, Sept 29) The need for reclassification of First Nations original material in memory institutions. Archival Decolonist. Retrieved from

TedEx Talks (2012, Mar 22) The essential elements of digital literacies: Doug Belshaw at TEDxWarwick.

Retrieved from:

van Laar, E., van Deursen, A. J. A. M., van Dijk, J. A. G. M., & de Haan, J. (2017). The relation between 21st-century skills and digital skills: A systematic literature review. Computers in Human Behavior, 72, 577-588. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2017.03.010

Weisburg, H. (2017). Leadership is not optional: It’s a job requirement. SCIS Connections, 101. Retrieved from

Wolsen, M. (2014, Sept 9). Digital literacy is the key to the future, but we still don’t know what it means. Wired. Retrieved from

Urbani, J. M., Roshandel, S., Michaels, R., & Truesdell, E. (2017). Developing and Modeling 21st-Century Skills with Preservice Teachers. Teacher Education Quarterly, 44(4), 27+. Retrieved from Proquest Journals.

Zurkowski, P.G.  (1974). The information service environment relationships and priorities. Related paper no. 5. National Commission on Libraries and Information. Retrieved from

Planet Mechanic – Game Evaluation

Game Evaluation Report


Games have gradually moved into classrooms of all levels over the past few decades and are gaining acceptance in situations as vastly different as early childhood settings, universities and workplace learning environments.  This article will explain why games belong in the classroom and evaluate a serious game, Planet Mechanic, as evidence of this value.

Before discussing the benefits of games in education, and evaluating their worth, the concept of what a game is must first be defined.  McGonigal (2012) defines a game according to four key traits; a goal, rules, a feedback system and voluntary participation. This definition is useful, and can be applied to nearly all games, as diverse as billiards and bridge.  Serious games, otherwise known as games for learning or educational games, are games that have been designed with a specific audience and specific learning outcomes in mind (Rodríguez-Aflecht, Hannula-Sormunen, McMullen, Jaakkola, & Lehtinen, 2017).  

Voluntary participation is a difficult concept in educational settings, however recent research shows that the voluntary participation aspect has little impact on learning (Rodríguez-Aflecht, et al., 2017).  Therefore, for the purposes of this evaluation, the voluntary participation aspect of games will be eliminated, which leaves the operational definition of a game, for this paper, to be an activity that contains a goal, rules and a feedback system.  

Game Based Learning

Raph Koster (2013) says that all games require learning and, in fact, the fun is in the learning and therefore games being brought into the educational environment should not be surprising.  Koster says that players play the game to learn how to play the game better, and when the learning stops, the enjoyment stops. In fact, research has shown that playing a game and failing is actually just as enjoyable as winning the game, possibly even more so (McGonigal, 2012).  

Game Based Learning (GBL) should not supplant traditional teaching methods, but rather support them as a valuable way to teach and reinforce learning (Koster, 2013) and GBL has many benefits for students.  GBL improves knowledge acquisition for students (Perrotta, Featherstone, Aston, & Houghton, 2013),  improves problem-solving skills in both global and topic-specific senses (Tsekleves, Cosmas, & Aggoun, 2016) and aids in memory retention and retrieval (Jean, 2019). Some studies have shown that GBL increases learner motivation (Woo, 2014; Pereira de Aguiar, Winn, Cezarotto, Battaiola, & Varella Gomes, 2018), although this claim has been disputed (Rodríguez-Aflecht, et al., 2017). Students playing games based on subject content are able to see the concepts with fresh eyes (Johnson, Adams, Cummins, Estrada, Freeman, & Ludgate, 2012).  Additionally, GBL that requires students to work in teams fosters the Twenty-First Century skills of teamwork and communication (Boikou, 2019).  Game Based Learning is undoubtedly beneficial for students.

Serious Game Design Assessment Framework

The Serious Game Design Assessment Framework (SGDA Framework) was developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab to fill a perceived gap in the market of evaluative methods used when assessing the worth of serious games (Mitgutsch & Alvarado, 2012).  They reviewed the few existing models of evaluation and found them lacking due to either a narrow focus on the design aspect of the game, or the absence of evaluation regarding the game’s purpose and whether it is achieved.  Subsequently the SGDA Framework was developed, which assesses a game on seven aspects: purpose, content, fiction and narrative, mechanics, aesthetics and graphics, framing and the game system.  

Game Evaluation

Planet Mechanic

Planet Mechanic (Filament Games, 2015) is an educational game designed to teach students in middle school about earth and space sciences.  It contains fifteen levels of increasing difficulty, and takes about 30 mins to play, with the potential to extend, as the final level is free play.  It is available on iOS and Android tablets as a standalone game and is available on iOS and Android tablets and web browsers in the education edition (Filament Games, n.d.) and therefore should be accessible to all schools, although the $2.99USD per student fee may put this app out of budgetary reach for some schools. These factors are important as technological requirements and finances are significant obstacles to teachers implementing game based learning (Katmada, Mavridis, & Tsiatsos, 2013).

For this evaluation, the standalone edition for iOS was tested on an iPad running iOS 12.1.1. 


Planet Mechanic is a goal oriented game (Hickey, North & Nagy, 2019) that aims to teach students about earth and space sciences, specifically how a planet’s lunar cycles, atmosphere, revolutions, tilt and rotation impact temperature, time and seasons (Filament Learning, 2015).  It aligns with the Australian Curriculum Year Seven Science program in the area of Earth and Space Sciences and Science Inquiry Skills (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2018).  The gameplay involves the student as the planet mechanic with a control panel to adjust the settings of the planet on the screen, with a non-playing character (NPC) of an alien who makes requests on adjustments required to the planet in question.  Clear learning outcomes, like the ones Planet Mechanic targets, are an important factor in ensuring the game meets its learning objectives (Doney, 2019), and a logical integration of the content into the gameplay makes the GBL meaningful (Perrotta, Featherstone, Aston, & Houghton, 2013). 

The first level involves a planet with no moon, and the alien requesting that the planet be given tides so that a chocolate-bearing shipwreck may be retrieved. The solution is to give the planet a moon, reinforcing the learning that the moon controls the earths tides.  Subsequent levels involve making the year shorter so that birthdays will happen more frequently, or creating a planet with specific climactic conditions.

Content and Information

The content and information aspect involves all in-game text, and data that appears on the screen (Mitgutsch & Alvarado, 2012). Planet Mechanic provides data on the alien’s latest requirements, and includes a heads up display (HUD) with the current settings of the planet and the impact those settings has on the climate (in displays for temperature, seasons, the length of days and years and so on, labelled “planetary details”). In addition, it provides factual information throughout the course of the game as to the “settings” that would apply to Earth.  (Pereira de Aguiar, Winn, Cezarotto, Battaiola, & Varella Gomes, 2018). 

The information on screen is easy to understand, factual and relevant to the task at hand, while providing information ‘just in time’, which helps students to understand and apply the new information well (Gee, 2005).  It also provides a voice over (which can be switched off) that would enable students with poorer literacy to still participate in this GBL experience.  The information could be improved, however, by including factual information about other planets in our solar system, and how their “settings” impact their climate.  That said, it teaches everything it can before the player has a chance to be bored and stop playing and so is a good game, as defined by Koster (2013). 

Game Mechanics


Game mechanics are the actions a player takes to have an impact on the game environment and, as such, are described using verbs (Sicart, 2008).  It can also refer to the challenges faced, and the win state of the game (Pereira de Aguiar, Winn, Cezarotto, Battaiola, & Varella Gomes, 2018).

The game mechanics in Planet Mechanic are simple, most actions are completed by making adjustments to planet settings, via either a slider or an on-off switch and then submitting your planet for assessment.  The other action taken is positioning the moon in the correct place to cause an eclipse. 

The complexity of the game comes from the sometimes unexpected impact the changing settings have on the “planetary details”, enabling students to understand how these factors interact.  

Fiction and Narrative


The story in Planet Mechanic is a short and simple linear narrative (Pereira de Aguiar, et al., 2018), but engaging enough to give the tasks meaning.  A fantasy setting, such as Planet Mechanic’s space theme, can create deeper learning engagement and player immersion in the game experience (Doney, 2019).  While the narrative is relatively shallow, it is sufficient for this game that could be completed in one or two lessons, as a more engaging narrative would take more time to develop.  A longer game may then consume too much classroom time, and may not be seen as a suitable investment of time for teaching to a relatively small number of science outcomes.

Aesthetics and Graphics

Planet Mechanic has two dimensional cartoon-like graphics, with a simple graphical representation of a planet orbiting a sun, surrounded by sliders and the “planetary details” HUD. The cartoon-like images allow students to more easily put themselves in the shoes of the Planet Mechanic and suspend disbelief, something that would be hindered with more realistic graphics (McCloud, 1994).  The simpler images also allow students to focus on the content and learning as complex animations can increase cognitive load (Woo, 2014). The music, an ambient track that evokes a sense of vast empty spaces, complements the theme of the game without being distracting

(Pereira de Aguiar, Winn, Cezarotto, Battaiola, & Varella Gomes, 2018).


Framing refers to the way that the game has been designed for a particular target group, in this case students in year 7, and whether the game and the play literacy required, are suitable for this type of student (Mitgutsch & Alvarado, 2012).  The game is well designed for 11-13 year olds (although early levels could be played by younger players) and the learning curve for learning to play is minimal, as students do not require any prior experience with video games to quickly learn this game.

The framing aspect also includes whether the game is responsive to the players by increasing the difficulty as the game progresses, as this progression in difficulty enhances learner engagement (Djelil, et al. 2014). The game begins with the aforementioned tide challenge (see the section on Purpose), which can be completed in under a minute, but gets progressively more difficult over the fourteen key game levels. 


In the instance of an incorrect response the game replies “this planet is broken” and the player is prompted to try again.  This repeated predictable fail outcome does not meet the criteria for a good learning game, which requires a variable feedback system and a cost for failure (Koster, 2013).  Fail states that are relevant but less predictable and boring enhance enjoyment of the game and encourage players to persevere even when they are struggling (McGonigal, 2012).

Each of these incorrect responses is counted and is viewable to the teacher (in the education edition) (Filament Learning, n.d.), and by the player themselves at the end of the game, but does not have an impact on gameplay.  Failure to complete a level does not preclude a student from completing subsequent levels, although a player must return to the home screen to select a different level if they are not progressing through the levels sequentially.  

After completion of each level, there is a multiple choice question generally relating to the changes made in that level to ascertain that the student understands what changes were necessary and why, rather than simply clicking everything until something worked.  This second possible fail state encourages students to grasp the underlying knowledge rather than simply guess, and their results of these challenge questions are recorded. 

Due to the format requiring a single correct answer, this game does not easily lend itself to replayability, although the free play level included at the end of the game allows room for experimentation and perhaps teacher- or student-set challenges for the class.

One way the framing in Planet Mechanic could be improved is by allowing teachers to customise the game for the benefit of their specific cohort of students, to better suit their prior learning and needs (Ak, 2012). Adding further advanced levels, including those with multiple solutions, would improve the learning benefits by helping students to feel like they have agency and their choices make a difference to the gameplay (Gee, 2005).  

Coherence and cohesiveness

This aspect the evaluation examines how well the previous elements of the game work together to achieve the purpose of the game (Mitgutsch & Alvarado, 2012).  Planet Mechanic is fairly simple in gameplay but it effectively demonstrates the principle of the Goldilocks Zone (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, n.d.) by allowing students to make adjustments to the planet that ultimately affect its liveability. The game is developed from a constructivism learning theory foundation (Pereira de Aguiar, et al., 2018) which allows students to experiment in a safe space to build their own learning. It shows the interconnectedness of planetary systems which teaches students the complex notion of systems thinking, the understanding that small actions in one area can have broad implications across multiple other areas (Molderez, & Ceulemans, 2018).

Overall Evaluation

Overall, Planet Mechanic is sufficiently engaging and detailed for a game played across one to two classroom lessons.  It quickly teaches students about the climactic impact that atmosphere, tilt, rotation, revolution and lunar cycles have on planets in a way that encourages systems thinking. It also has a minimal learning curve for teacher and student alike, allowing reluctant teachers to investigate Game Based Learning on a small scale. Improvements could be made in allowing further teacher customisation and having advanced levels with more variables and multiple solutions that would help students to feel they were active agents in the game.  Additional work on the fail state of the game being less predictable (such as the planet wobbling off its axis, or the alien being upset that the snow has melted) would increase enjoyment and consequences for failing would encourage students to work hard to produce the right answer.


Game based learning is a valuable teaching method and should be incorporated into classrooms, bringing student benefits in not only content learning but transferrable skills such as systems thinking and team work.  Planet Mechanic represents a low-investment game that allows teachers to experiment with incorporating game based learning into their classrooms. References

Ak, O. (2012). A game scale to evaluate educational computer games. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 2477-2481.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (2018) Australian Curriculum: Science. Version 8.4. Retrieved from

Boikou, Α.G. (2019). Game based learning’s impact in learning achievement: a systematic review. Retrieved from

Djelil, F., Sanchez, E., Albouy-Kissi, B., Lavest, J., & Albouy-Kissi, A. (2014). Towards a learning game evaluation methodology in a training context: A literature review. Reading: Academic Conferences International Limited. Retrieved from

Doney, I. (2019). Research into effective gamification features to inform e-learning design. Research in Learning Technology, 27.

Gee, J. P. (2005). Learning by design: Good video games as learning machines. E-learning and Digital Media, 2(1), 5-16.

Hickey, S., North, C & Nagy, G. (2019) Games and Learner Engagement: Gamification, eLearning, and Virtual Reality. Participant Resources (AECT) [pdf file] Games and Learner Engagement webinar series, AECT Learner Engagement Division. Retrieved from

Jean, P. H. (2019). Brain-based and learning theories: Application of theories in the classroom. European Journal of Education Studies. 5(12). Retrieved from

Johnson, L., Adams, S., Cummins, M., Estrada, V., Freeman, A., & Ludgate, H. (2012). The NMC horizon report: 2012 K-12. The New Media Consortium, Austin, Texas. Retrieved from

Katmada, A., Mavridis, A., & Tsiatsos, T. (2013). Game based learning in mathematics: Teachers’ support by a flexible tool. Reading: Academic Conferences International Limited. Retrieved from

Koster, R. (2013). Theory of fun for game design. Retrieved from

McCloud, S. (1994) Understanding comics: The invisible art. New York: Harper Perennial.

McGonigal, J. (2012). Reality is broken: Why games make us better and how they can change the world. Vintage: London.

Mitgutsch, K., & Alvarado, N. (2012, May). Purposeful by design?: a serious game design assessment framework. In Proceedings of the International Conference on the foundations of digital games (pp. 121-128). ACM.

Molderez, I., & Ceulemans, K. (2018). The power of art to foster systems thinking, one of the key competencies of education for sustainable development. Journal of Cleaner Production, 186, 758-770.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (n.d.) The Goldilocks Zone. Retrieved from

Pereira de Aguiar M., Winn B., Cezarotto M., Battaiola A.L., Varella Gomes P. (2018) Educational Digital Games: A Theoretical Framework About Design Models, Learning Theories and User Experience. In: Marcus A., Wang W. (eds) Design, User Experience, and Usability: Theory and Practice. DUXU 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10918. Springer, Cham

Perrotta, C., Featherstone, G., Aston, H., & Houghton, E. (2013). Game-based learning: Latest evidence and future directions. Slough: NFER. Retrieved from

Rodríguez-Aflecht, G., Hannula-Sormunen, M., McMullen, J., Jaakkola, T., & Lehtinen, E. (2017). Voluntary vs Compulsory Playing Contexts: Motivational, Cognitive, and Game Experience Effects. Simulation & Gaming, 48(1), 36–55.

Sicart, M. (2008). Defining game mechanics. Game Studies, 8(2). Retrieved from

Tsekleves, E., Cosmas, J., & Aggoun, A. (2016). Benefits, barriers and guideline recommendations for the implementation of serious games in education for stakeholders and policymakers. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(1), 164-183.

Woo, J. C. (2014). Digital game-based learning supports student motivation, cognitive success, and performance outcomes. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 17(3), 291-307.

INF541 Assessment 1 – Blog Post

Impact of games on education and learning

There is an increasing amount of evidence showing that electronic gaming can be beneficial to students in some subject areas (Lieberoth, 2017; Smith, 2016) however, more study needs to be done in this area.  One area of study that could be explored is the optimal amount of time for a student to spend on video gaming, as excessive time spent in front of a screen can impact on sleep (Zajac, 2019) – and we know that lack of sleep is detrimental to learning.  As Wilcox (2016) points out, recreational video gaming won’t have a positive impact if gaming time is taking away from learning time.


Online Gaming can boost my school performance - Cathy Wilcox cartoon
(Wilcox, 2016)

Cooperative gaming (whether an electronic game or a traditional, tabletop game) builds twenty-first century skills of cooperation, communication and critical thinking as players work together and negotiate conditions and gameplay (Miller, 2012).  Furthermore, following the consequences of choices is part of systems thinking, and systems thinking in games helps students think about systems outside games (Farber, 2019a). Electronic games have research-proven benefits that tabletop or traditional games do not.  Some benefits to electronic games in the classroom include immediate feedback, the ability of games to adjust difficulty based on achievements or levelling up, no need to wait for someone to play (unlike most traditional games),  and there is not one skilled player dominating the game (Turkay, Hoffman, Kinzer, Chantes, & Vicari, 2014).

Challenges to Incorporating Gaming

While many teachers believe that the fun aspect of serious gaming enhances learning outcomes, research on the topic doesn’t support that (Iten & Petko, 2016), showing that perceived fun and engagement had minimal effect on test scores.  Incorporating electronic gaming into the classroom requires technological knowledge and a thorough grasp of the curriculum (Share, 2009) and many teachers lack that knowledge.  Share (2009) also examines how the interviewed teachers, who were part of a pilot program for incorporating media literacy across the curriculum, have decreased their teaching of media literacy after the grant for the pilot program ran out, citing lack of time and money as major factors.

Technology in its early days is notoriously unreliable.  We know that devices may no be charged, they may need updates or, for whatever reason, may not “behave” in the way we expect them to.  What if the technology doesn’t work? I’ve noted in other blog posts about my experience in an educational technology workshop where a lot of time was wasted on technology that just didn’t cooperate.  These sort of experiences make teachers reluctant to implement technology in the classroom.

My goals for this subject

I have some questions that I would like to answer for myself, over the course of the subject.  I would like to answer:

  • What if someone doesn’t want to play? Does it cease to be voluntary, and they have to “play”? Or should we provide them with an alternate activity? Thanks to June Wall (Wall, 2019) for the inspiration for this question.
  • Where is the line between games and not-games?  Jordan Shapiro, author of The New Childhood, doesn’t see Minecraft and Scratch as games but rather “digital play” (Farber, 2019b, para. 4.). Is Minecraft a game?  Is it sometimes a game and sometimes not?  Does it matter?  Can Scratch and Minecraft be a part of Game Based Learning?
  • Are games an effective use of classroom time? It takes time to learn the game, play the game often enough to learn from it and synthesise ideas to other areas – is that a time-effective way to teach? (Becker, 2011)


Becker, K. (2011). Distinctions between games and learning: A review of current literature on games in education. In I. Management Association (Ed.), Gaming and Simulations: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications(pp. 75-107). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi:10.4018/978-1-60960-195-9.ch105

Farber, M. (2019a, January 24) The benefits of constructionist gaming. Edutopia. Retrieved from

Farber, M (2019b, February 8) Digital play for serious learning. Edutopia. Retrieved from

Iten, N., & Petko, D. (2016). Learning with serious games: Is fun playing the game a predictor of learning success?. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(1), 151-163.

Lieberoth, A. (2017, October 18) Are computer games a teacher’s friend or enemy? Science Nordic. Retrieved from’s-friend-or-enemy

Miller, A. (2012, June 25) Game based learning to teach and assess 21st century skills. Edutopia. Retrieved from

Share, J. (2009) Voices from the trenches: Elementary school teachers speak about implementing media literacy. In Tyner, K. (Ed.). (2009). Media literacy : New agendas in communication. Retrieved from

Smith, B. (2016, August 8) Computer games have an edge in the classroom: Study. Sydney Morning Herald. 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.

Wall, J. [junewall] (March 4, 2019) Q1. What do you do about those who don’t like games? #INF541 [Tweet] Retrieved from

Wilcox, C. (2016, August 8). Untitled Illustration. Sydney Morning Herald.  Retrieved from

Zajac, B. (Producer) (2019, March 1)Devices and LED globes are more damaging for our sleep than we first thought (podcast). ABC Radio National. Retrieved from


Reflective Practice ETL401 Assignment 3 Part C

Part C – Reflective Practice

Throughout this subject it has been fascinating to learn about information literacy and the newer, upgraded model of digital literacy.  Before this subject began I would have told you that literacy was all about reading and writing, but I have learned that literacy is far more complex than simply reading and writing (Parnell, 2018a, Parnell, 2018b).  Course content and wider reading has lead me to engage deeply with the notion of literacy as contextual, and ask some tough questions particularly about first nations and colonial theories of literacy (Parnell, 2018c). 

In our modern, information-rich environment, it is necessary to learn information literacy skills in order to work more efficiently (Big 6, n.d.). Information literacy, while having a multitude of definitions, essentially boils down to the capable location, use and reuse of information (Wocke, 2018).  Information literacy is contextual, and so it is never fully conquered, it is a matter of lifelong learning (Belshaw, 2014). As such, information literacy models are all closely related (Eisenberg & Berkowitz, 1999) while having their own distinct voices and features (National Library of New Zealand, n.d.a).  In keeping with literacy as being contextual (Belshaw, 2014, Simon, 2018), it makes sense that different information literacy models work best in different situations (National Library of New Zealand, n.d.a).

I engaged deeply with Dr D Belshaw’s theory of Digital Literacies (Belshaw,  2014), which challenged me to think about the many different aspects of digital literacy (Parnell, 2018a) and what makes someone truly literate – both in a digital and in an analog sense.  Dr Belshaw’s theory (Belshaw, 2014), and other reading (CILIP, 2018) made me realise that literacy involves ethical reuse, an aspect that I had not before considered.  I am still uncertain as to whether I agree with Belshaw’s (2018) conclusion that the pinnacle of digital literacy is the remix. 

Throughout my studies I also engaged with the notion of privilege, especially as it relates to libraries (Parnell, 2018d) and Guided Inquiry specifically (Parnell, 2018e). I struggle to reconcile the level of support and resourcing recommended to support Guided Inquiry with what is available in schools, in my experience (Parnell, 2018e). Inquiry learning has a solid research basis, and is compatible with my early childhood training.  I understand that Guided Inquiry does work, and is also backed by research (Torrington 2013; Scheffers & Alekna, 2015), but I have been unable to come across any studies of it working, as intended, in poorly resourced schools with large classes and insufficient funding.  Any inquiry process assumes a certain level of resourcing, both on staffing and informational levels, (Parnell, 2018f) and that level of resourcing is not always available to schools in low socio-economic areas.  

Another challenge to implementing inquiry learning in a school is the low status of teacher-librarians.  Studies in Australia (Lupton, 2016, House of Representatives, 2011) have shown that school executives frequently do not have an understanding of the role of the teacher-librarian and how a teacher-librarian can enhance the educational program, through resource selection, collaborative teaching, curricular support, reader advisory and the many other roles a  teacher-librarian fulfils (Parnell, 2018j). There is more than sufficient research to prove that a qualified teacher-librarian makes a difference in a school (Hughes, 2014), but not everyone can see that.

Inquiry learning benefits from collaboration between teachers and teacher-librarians, but collaboration must be supported at the executive level for it to work (National Library of New Zealand, n.d.b; Parnell; 2018g; Parnell, 2018i).  Principals need to be sold on the benefits of collaboration (Parnell, 2018l), in terms that support the schools aims and goals (Bonanno, 2011). Teachers, in their pre-service training and in their professional journals, are not encouraged to collaborate with  teacher-librarians – the articles supporting teacher-librarian/teacher collaboration are almost exclusively printed in teacher-librarianship journals (Parnell, 2018h).  Feedback from the field indicates that funding and executive support of collaboration for inquiry learning is in short supply (Softlink, 2015). 

After not being satisfied with guided inquiry as an appropriate model for my circumstances, I investigated a wide range of information literacy models (Parnell, 2018j).  Some I investigated thoroughly before eliminating as an appropriate model while others I struggled to find sufficient, convincing information about.  For example, I read Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono (2000) but felt that while Six Thinking Hats was a good model for metacognition it was not adequate for information literacy (Parnell, 2018j). I read about Herring’s PLUS model but couldn’t find sufficient information about it, and found the lack of predictable flow in this model to be confusing (Parnell, 2018j).  As a result, I chose the Big 6 Model.

The Big 6 Model is the most widely used Information Literacy model in the world (National Library of New Zealand, n.d.a, Big 6 website) and therefore has the greatest chance of being reinforced across all educational venues a student might attend.  It has a proven track record, having been used in schools for over twenty years (Eisenberg & Berkowitz, 1999).  It combines six key stages, each with two substages, to cover the whole of the information search process, no matter the age of the student (Big 6, n.d.).  Younger students need only learn the six stages (with the sub stages informing the teacher’s practice) and the method has been modified to three stages for the youngest of students to begin learning information literacy as early as possible (Eisenberg & Berkowitz, 1999). 

The simplicity of the Big 6 model is what attracted me, as well as the modification by Franklin and Chow (2009) that provides students with a mnemonic using common verbs that describe the six stages, to assist them in recalling the six stages, which will increase transferability (Herring, 2011). The ability to transfer this information across subjects and situations is critical to developing information literacy (Fitzgerald & Garrison, 2017) and our students will benefit from a unified, consistent approach to information literacy in order for them to internalise the process and transfer it across these different situations (Herring, 2011) . 

The teacher-librarian, as an information professional, is uniquely positioned to teach information literacy, and make connections between different subjects (Mitchell, 2011).  Teacher-librarians have a lot to offer schools, and need to advocate passionately at every level for support to prove their worth.


Belshaw, D. (2014). The essential elements of digital literacies. Retrieved from <> 

Belshaw, D. (2018, Mar 22) The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies (Startklar?! March 2018)

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Bonnano, K. (2011) ASLA 2011. Karen Bonanno, Keynote speaker: A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan. [Video file]. Retrieved from:

CILIP (2018) CILIP Definition of Information Literacy 2018 [pdf file] Retrieved from

De Bono, E. (2000) Six Thinking Hats. London: Penguin. 

Eisenberg, M. B. & Berkowitz, R. E. (1999) Teaching information & technology skills : the big 6 in elementary schools. Ohio: Linworth Publishing Inc.

Fitzgerald, L. & Garrison, K. (2017) ‘It Trains Your Brain’: Student Reflections on Using the Guided Inquiry Design Process. Synergy,    15/2

Franklin, G., & Chow, S. (2009) Big 6 Posters. [pdf file] Retrived from

Herring, J. (2011). Transferring information literacy practices: implications for teacher librarians and teachers. Scan. Vol 30. Retrieved from

House of Representatives. Standing Committee on Education and Employment. (2011). School libraries and teacher librarians in 21st century Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from

Hughes, H. (2014). School libraries, teacher-librarians and student outcomes: Presenting and using the evidence. School Libraries Worldwide, 20(1), 29-50. Retrieved from

Lupton, M. (2016). Adding value: Principals’ perceptions of the role of the teacher librarian. School Libraries Worldwide. 22(1), 49-61. doi: 10.14265.22.1.005

Mitchell, P. (2011) Resourcing 21st century online Australian Curriculum : the role of school libraries. FYI : the Journal for the School Information Professional. v.15 n.2 p.10-15; Autumn 2011. Retrieved from

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National Library of New Zealand (n.d.b) School libraries and inquiry learning. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018a, April 10) Information literacy module 5 ETL401. Liz at the library.

Parnell, E. (2018b, April, 10) Literacy. Liz at the library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018c, May 1) Illiterate? Liz at the library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018d, April 26) Module 6 reflections and a four activity. Liz at the library.

Parnell, E. (2018e, April 10) Guided inquiry – unicorn or reality. Liz at the library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018f, April 10) Information literacy instruction. Liz at the library.  Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018g, April 9) Guided inquiry – challenges. Liz at the library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018h, April 8) Inquiry learning and teacher-librarian/teacher collaboration. Liz at the library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018i, March 18) Principals and teacher-librarians. Liz at the library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018j, March 15) The roles of the teacher-librarian. Liz at the library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018k, April, 11) Information literacy models. Liz in the library. Retrieved from

Parnell, E. (2018l, April 9) Guided inquiry – challenges. Liz at the library. Retrieved from

Scheffers, J. & Alekna, G. (2015) Scaffolding for success: Support students’ amazing journey with guided inquiry. Scan. Vol 34(1). Retrieved from

Simon, M. (2018, May 2) Reflections on information literacy – complexity, context and transfer. Mrs Simon says. Retrieved from

Softlink. (2015). What’s trending? [pdf file] Retrieved from

Torrington, J. (2013). Using guided inquiry in a year 3 classroom. Access, 27(4), 22-24. Retrieved from

Wocke, G. (2018, April 26) Information literacy – a commentary. Gretha Reflecting. Retrieved from

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