May 26

Critical Reflection: Assessment 5- Part B

I’m off to great  places…

As a traditional teacher I considered myself as the holder of knowledge, and that knowledge was a distinct set of “correct” facts which the teacher imparted to the students (WoodsI’m off to great places…, 2014). Technology has changed society and as a result the 21st Century citizen needs a broader set of skills.  I quickly realised that “most uses of technologies in schools today do not support these 21st Century learning skills” (Resnick, 2007, p. 22) but “game design … addresses the 21st Century learning skills  required from students and offers a project-based, constructivist approach” (Caperton, 2010).

GBL could potentially remove the “sage from the stage” and put learners in control of their learning. Good games incorporate learning principles which are highly relevant to 21st Century pedagogy (Gee 2005). Initially I considered games to teach content, however it has become evident to me, they have the potential to achieve outcomes for students and develop the social skills which are neglected in our obsession with content and facts,  building  socially inclusive learning spaces.

social skills

The Australian Government funded a research project to gather an understanding of the employability skills needed in the 21st Century. The resulting Employability Skills Framework (2006) identified a number of personal attributes that employers valued; namely, communication, teamwork, problem solving, initiative and enterprise, planning and organising, self-management, learning, and technology.

Shaffer (2006) presents the opinion, with which I concur, that students can transfer what is being learned and experienced in playing a game to other aspects of their lives. “Games are this generation’s mode of discourse” (Salen, 2013), a form of problem based learning (Miller, 2008) and a powerful preparation tool. Games give rise to empowered learners who explore more (Gee, 2012), who confidently take risks (Anderson, 2012), and are capable of complex social interactions and deep understanding (Gee, 2013). The Fun theory resonated with me and I started to rethink my ideas about games, play and fun.

games as a waste of time

In an attempt to list what players learn through play and how games function as pedagogic texts, I realised that the skills required in the Employability Skills Framework, could serve as a comprehensive summary. Games teach communication, teamwork, problem solving, initiative and enterprise, planning and organising, self-management, learning, and technology.

The work of James Gee (2013) presented insight into the value of games for learning, he justifies convincingly how games can “teach people to solve problems and become good learners”.

He identifies 3 categories of good learning principles which games use to engage learners. When considering how to justify the use of GBL in my context, his argument that; games empower learners because they choose to engage, teach problem solving skills which develop effective 21 century citizens and create deep understanding that lasts and prepares them for future learning, is highly credible.

Having been convinced of the value of GBL, I was still concerned with how games worked and how they can best be integrated into the classroom.


I realized that effective integration depends on a range of factors including; the choice of game, the context in which it is played and the influence of the educator’s attitudes. I broadened my horizons about the possibilities of hand held games, mobile devices and Augmented Reality.

I would consider myself one of the teachers who was, “prone to overlook the crucial role they play in how games are experienced and responded to” (Beavis et al, 2014). My focus until this point,was only on the game and deployment.

no context

In a senior school with a trade focus, I began to recognise the importance of my role and the significance of this unique context. Research into the use of games in education has developed my understanding of learning (Miller, 2008), about information behaviour and  how to design rich learning environments that provide for experiencing, doing and knowing. (Tyner, 2009). I need to enable learners to cooperate in shared situations and solve authentic problems, collaboratively.


I am convinced that GBL can develop the skills for the 21st Century. I am confident in this constructivist approach to integrate problem solving into learning. I recognise that the best games to use are those suited to my context, which appeal to my students. I believe that “creative technology use may hold vast potential for transformative learning (Daud, Mustaffa, Hussain, & Osman, 2009) and I will continue to engage in PLN like Twitter to learn and share.



Australian Government. Department of Education and Training. (2016) Bridging document. Core Skills for work. Retrieved from

Beavis, C., Rowan, L., Dezuanni, M., McGillivray, C., O’Mara, J., Prestridge … 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

Edutopia. (2012, March 21). James Paul Gee on learning with video games [Video File]. Retrieved from

Edutopia. (2013, July 30). Katie Salen on the power of game based learning (Big Thinkers Series) [Video file]. Retrieved from

Miller, C. T. (2008). Games: Purpose and potential in education. Boston. Springer Science & Business Media.

Navarrete, C. C. (2013). Creative thinking in digital game design and development: A case studyComputers & Education, 69, 320–331. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2013.07.025

Resnick, M. (2007) Sowing the seeds for a more creative society. Learning and Leading with Technology, 35 (4), 18–22

Shaffer, D. (2006). How computer games help children learn. Science Education, 92 (2), 378-381

Tedx Talks. (2012, April 24). Classroom game design; Paul Anderson at Tedx Bozeman [Video File]. Retrieved from

Thorn, C. (2013, November 13). Jim Gee Principles on gaming [Video File]. Retrieved from

Tyner, K. (2009). Media Literacy: New agendas in communication.  Retrieved from

Woods, N. (2014). Describing discourse: A practical guide to discourse analysis. USA: Routledge.

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May 17

Teaching and learning with games reflection 5.2

Virtual reality and immersive simulations

Imagine the perfect field trip where students are free to wander and explore. How good would learning be if they could be immersed in that environment, see feel and explore whatever interests them. That is what the virtual reality immersive learning simulation offers. This is immersive learning at its best. It is almost better than the real thing because once students find an item of interest, they click on it and it is then further hyperlinked to subject knowledge and more information. The positive of this pedagogical approach is the freedom which the learner experiences in being able to navigate down any path of interest. Curiosity is encouraged. An engaging opportunity for education.

What happens when you add learning content to an intrinsically motivating game?


One common criticism of the use of games in education is that they offer only extrinsic motivation because they revolve around reward systems.

The idea of intrinsic integration seems to go to the next level and recommend that games can be more effective if the learning content is added to an instrinsically motivating game.

The advantages of this type of game play is that by not separating the game play experience form the learning material and by playing a game which embodies it, players are more likely to be be engaged for longer and motivated to continue. The concept of creating flow  (as proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi) in the learning experience makes perfect sense and according to the research, intrinsic integration gives rise to flow and as a result,  learning potential increases when students show more, “persistence, more focused attention, increased arousal, increased affect” (Hapgood & Ainsworth, 2013).

The instrinsic integrated game works well because students will see the challenge as real and authentic, the game and the content are integrated in a one context and neither appear as add ons. Students are aware of chocolate covered broccoli, they can smell broccoli a mile away. So if the game is not just a sweetner for doing the hard work, it gains more meaning and will be more attractive.


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.

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May 16

Teaching and learning inside games. Reflection 5.1

This module considers a range of issues particularly how games are perceived and how they can be adapted to the learning environment. It is important to consider the relationship between teaching and the pedagogical affordance.

Shaffer (2006) presents the opinion, with which I concur, that students can transfer what is being learned and experienced in playing a game to other aspects of their lives. However the ongoing challenge is how to do this most effectively.

  1.  How useful do these appear in attempting to evaluate games and game-like approaches?

In considering O’Brien, D. (2011). A taxonomy of educational games. In Gaming and simulations: Concepts, methodologies, tools and applications (pp. 1-23), I consider this as a very useful move towards “helping educators assess digital games based on the features that are relevant to instructional design and educational research” Any information which helps educators who recognise the pedagogical value of games, but who are struggling with effective implementation, is useful. Understanding how some types of games are different from others can help educators to understand how and when games can be beneficial to learning.


taxonomy of games

I believe that Table 1- The taxonomy of educational games would be a useful resource for educators to align their game choice with outcomes and to clarify how the students will be thinking when they engage with a game. This could also be useful to help educators consider what cognitive functions and skills a particular genre of game could potentially develop.

Retrieved from

2. How do these children see the game? Do they see it as playing to win or something else?

The Minecraft is fun video highlights how children perceive this game and the most obvious positive they raise is that they “like to build things” The ability to manipulate a context, creatively contribute and experience that sense of agency seems powerfully engaging. The children seem confident and willing to collaborate and seek help. The fear of failure and taking risks seems to be reduced in this game environment which empowers them to process the information they have and apply their knowledge to resolve their problems. They are not playing to win…competition of that sort does not feature at all!

3. Consider the presentation and audience for this ‘game’ and their media habits.


A classic example of game player adapting games to play games within games according to their entertainment interests. This particular video seems aimed at a younger audience however the remediation and inter textual references open the initial game up to a broader audience. As a non Minecraft player I found it incredibly difficult to follow the presenter. There is a high degree of assumed knowledge about game jargon and the mechanics of game play. I therefore assume that this game would serve a relatively small niche market however I assume most Minecraft players would be able to engage quite readily. Tacit knowledge is shared through the common experience, common language and through the extended gamers’ world of forums and videos like the one presented.

The game environment has successfully developed that curiosity which we try so hard to create in formal education, where the player is actively seeking beyond the immediate game environment to build knowledge and skills. So if we want to harness that power, one of the challenges is to engage parental acceptance of digital games.


4. What are the social and cultural barriers to acceptance in your context? Do parents or workplace colleagues conceive learning is possible inside a game? How would you overcome negative opinions?

In my context of a senior secondary college, parental attitudes are less influential than they would be at the younger ages. In this particular age group and given that we are a trade college which is not aiming for strong academic results or tertiary entry scores, parents are more inclined to accept a more “relaxed” approach. The commonly held perception of games as unlikely tools for education is not much of a barrier because our parents are more focused on engaging their children who have usually been disenfranchised by main stream education. The focus in our organisation is on student engagement, reaching individuals through differentiation and a customised/ personalised program, so I am fortunate not to have to justify my decision to use game design or game based learning. However I am sure in a different context parental attitudes would be highly influential on both their child’s perception of games and on policy makers who would be influenced by the attitudes of parents.


O’Brien, D. (2011). A taxonomy of educational games. In Gaming and simulations: Concepts, methodologies, tools and applications (pp. 1-23). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-60960-195-9.ch101

Shaffer, D. W. (2006). Epistemic frames for epistemic games. Computers & Education, 46(3), 223–234.doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2005.11.003



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