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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April 30

Gameful design. Reflection 4.2

Gameful design could be a useful way of engaging users with an information system and it is applicable to a wide range of contexts including work places and education.

My understanding thus far… In business it is most commonly used in sales and marketing since that lends itself naturally to the concept of leader boards, scores, badges, rewards and positive feedback. However the game design concepts are also used in ‘customer  relationship  management  system  (CRM)   to  support relationship  marketing,  i.e.,  creating  a  personal  connection  between  the  company  and  its  customers through value creation,  multichannel  integration, and information  management  (Payne & Frow,  2006).

The example given by Monu&Ralph (2013) is of the Nike app which gives Nike valuable information about their customers while giving customers activity reports, personal progress information and competition/ comparative information.

In education games are used in varying ways and with varying degrees of success. Traditionally the drill and practice serious games have been quite widely accepted, however introducing gameful design to other information systems may be quite challenging.

Firstly, it is vital to be very clear on the objectives and desired outcomes, identify desired behaviours and then devise rewards which will appeal to users to produce the outcomes and behaviours. This requires an intimate knowledge of the learners and the context and the curriculum. The user is all important since it is their interaction with the “game” which will to a large extent determine the success of the experience.

Secondly implementing the mechanics of gameful design can be both daunting, challenging and time consuming.

  • Educators need to be very aware of establishing a clear goal/purpose in order to move the experience from play as described by Deterding et al. (2011) as free form, improvisational and expressive, to gaming, which is more structured, rule bound and goal directed.
  • Educators need to consider the degree to which technology will mediate the experience
  • “Successfully gamifying work for diverse individuals may require appealing to diverse player motivations.” (Monu &Ralph, 2013, p 5). As a result, educators need to consider this in the design in order to engage all learners and avoid isolating some.

The potential of this approach is wide ranging and impressive, personally I am very excited and motivated by the concept. The challenges are not insurmountable in education however it always seems to go back to the same issue…teachers attitudes, appropriate training and support… for it to be widely accepted and successful.

Retrieved from

In my searches I found this LMS, which is marketing itself as embracing gameful design… at a glance, it certainly looks interesting. It may be a good indication of software designers responding to the increasing demand.


Monu, K., & Ralph, P. (2013). Beyond gamification: Implications of purposeful games for the information systems discipline. arXiv:1308.1042 [cs]. Retrieved from




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April 29

Information behaviour and how it applies to game narrative and construction. Reflection 4.1

Maybe finding that sweet spot where knowledge, skills and behaviour intersect will help us move from transmission of information to meaningful learning. We tend to focus on knowledge and skills but what about behaviour? This is where information behaviour becomes important. I have gained an understanding that information behaviour involves two main parts: seeking information and then communicating information.

Problem solving is integral to meaningful learning, so once posed with a problem, learners seek knowledge to solve that problem. Information seeking can take a variety of forms including active seeking of information, scanning sources, sometimes serendipitous discovery or it can be provoked.

Seeking that information efficiently requires a variety of information and media learning skills. Some vital skills include the ability to do the following: (Latham&Hollister, 2013)

  • acquire vital information by seizing opportunities
  • evaluate and interpret information
  • interpret signs and symbols
  • manipulate information analyse messages and interpret their meaning

Effective game narrative and construction should reflect these behaviours and be constructed to promote learning in this way. The narrative needs to start by posing a problem which motivates the learner to seek knowledge. The structure needs to offer opportunities for players/learners to seek knowledge. I suspect that a game which offers a variety of methods to discover knowledge would be most engaging and effective, so at times knowledge needs to be actively sought, it may be found by scanning the game, it may be provoked by other characters in the game or it may be serendipitously discovered.  The players will use that acquired knowledge to interact with the game, communicate and manipulate their findings to solve the problem.

To me the most powerful element of information behaviour presented by high end games like World of Warcraft is the potential of the social group in helping the player to make meaning of their experience. John Seely describes the power of the guilds to generate exponential quantities of ideas and knowledge. Games which harness this collaborative communication, encourage reflection and feedback in a safe environment will potentially encourage the most productive and engaged behaviour.



Latham, D., & Hollister, J. M. (2013). The games people play: Information and media literacies in the Hunger Games trilogy. Children’s Literature in Education, 45(1), 33–46. doi:10.1007/s10583-013-9200-0

Stanford eCorner. (2010, December 9). John Seely Brown: The knowledge economy of World of Warcraft [Video file} Retrieved from



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April 15

Good game characteristics. Reflection 3.6

Games characteristics incorporated in the WOW in school project…This project’s success is probably attributed to the characteristics of good games which have been incorporated into the learning. James Gee describes this with clarity in his keynote address.

Retrieved from

As James Gee (2012) described at Games for Change in 2012, this WOW project has become a good “BIG G” game. A big G game is where the software is offered in an affinity space (a space where people come together with a common passion) combined with the principles of good games.

Good games…

  • have collective intelligence- a system which is smarter than the individuals playing, a system good at managing your attention
  • use good gamification- direct people and motivate them to achieve
  • include smart tools, tools which make the player smarter
  • encourage a form of crowd sourcing, encouraging as many contributions as possible
  • embrace convergence, must use multi media
  • collect copious data which they represent back to the players
  • build an assessment, not as a score but as a trajectory towards mastery
  • set standards which are indigenous
  • be about distributed intelligence, shared and networked intelligence
  • emotional and social intelligence
  • embodied intelligence, show you what it feels like, experience = tacit understanding
  • represent situated understanding- words and representations should be related
  • induce critical, design (modding mentality) and system( multiple variables) thinking
  • allow creativity and innovation
  • are about literacy- the articulation of tacit knowledge
  • teaches problem solving, where you use facts as tools
  • make people producers, it empowers them
  • push you to mastery through a cycle of expertise
  • prepare the player for future learning
  • make you see the world in a new way, new possibilities for solutions


Games for Change. (2012, July 30). Dr James Paul Gee Keynote [Video file]. Retrieved from

Haskell, C. (2013) Understanding quest based learning. Retrieved from




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April 15

What technologies allow students to use sensory feedback? Reflection 3.5

Sensory feedback is a positive motivator and a method of engagement. Digital games use visual feedback, sound effects and even responsive controllers. In a classroom we need to recognise the value of feedback. Different students will respond to different feedback differently, so having a range of options and allowing choice is highly effective.

In my classroom here are a few tools at my disposal:

  1. We use the Schoology learning management system and feedback options are numerous. In a literal sense when providing feedback on tasks, I can write a comment, record an audio message, or even send a video message. Having these choices gives me the opportunity to respond to individual needs and strengths.
  2. A Swivl. This is an audio and video recording device which can be used to capture lessons, for collaborative learning, or for recording of “performance” to provide feedback or for self-evaluation. Swivl can capture slides, information and synchronise with video to bring context to learners.


  1. Interactive whiteboards may becoming “old” technology however they still have much to offer. Students can interact with visual stimulus and the physical interaction when using the pen offers a tactile and kinaesthetic multisensory benefit
  2. Smart phones which are prolific in my environment have much to offer. Feedback is available in so many ways depending on the application in use. Voice recorders, cameras, interactive games, visual calculators, video stimulus and tutorials etc.….
  3. Although not high tech, posters or any static stimulus around the room has the potential to offer feedback, particularly when combined with AR elements developed in programs like Aurasma or even just QR codes
  4. Google cardboard is a low cost option for providing interactive visual and kinesthetic feedback/ stimulus for students

google cardboard

These are just some options which I use, I am sure there are many more.

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April 15

Creativity and learning for personal fulfillment and empowerment: Reflection 3.4

As a learner I feel that creativity is just another form of problem solving. When faced with a challenge, the learner must create solutions. Creativity is not necessarily an artistic talent but rather a way of thinking and an approach to learning. Creativity of this sort requires an open mind, willingness to explore and the confidence to take risks. Finding solutions to a problem can be both satisfying, empowering and motivating.

Trying to find creative solutions, sparks a process of problem analysis, systematic evaluation of possibilities and then synthesis of information to propose a solution. These are all higher order thinking skills which as educators we are aiming to develop in our students. Developing critical thinking skills could improve academic achievement and better prepare students with those 21st century skills required.

Creativity empowers the learner when they have agency to determine the outcome. Creating is doing, and in keeping with the constructivist approach, learning will be more likely to happen and more likely to have lasting effect.

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April 14

Characteristics of games for educational purposes. Reflection 3.3

Dr Who: the first adventure- Opening  Retrieved from

What characteristics of this early game remain relevant?

Fascinating how so much has changed but in fact how little has changed…The characteristics of this game almost all remain relevant today. Recent technology available has allowed better communication of the characteristics, but the concepts remain the same.

The game has:

  • Sound effects – as identified by the research of Wood et al (2004) to be one of the most important features of a game. Although not “realistic “in this game, sound is a major feature.
  • Narrative- A strong narrative creates a context for the problem. Game designers recognise that compelling and engaging narratives allow for immersion and agency, which motivates participation. (Dickey, 2012, p. 245)
  • Goal/challenge- there is a clear goal or challenge for the gamers to aspire to.
  • Rewards – success is rewarded, but even if you fail, you can regenerate and try again. The notion of risk taking is encouraged, failure is not final.
  • Surprise- play offers surprises in the form of new discoveries

Which ‘adventure game’ characteristics might be used in your classroom?Adventure games offer the opportunity for exploration, puzzle solving and storytelling. In my ideal classroom I would embrace all 3 characteristics of adventure games.


  • Encourage curiosity
  • Avoid the linear tradition of subject based teaching.
  • Avoid the compartmentalisation of subjects and promote tangential learning which accommodates individual interests and strengths
  • Promotes collaborative learning, sharing of ideas and peer teaching

Puzzle solving:

  • Set clear challenges with incremented achievable goals
  • Adopt a problem solving approach
  • Encourage a sharing and supportive environment


  • Create compelling real world of fantasy contexts for learning through narratives
  • Support immersion in the experience through engaging narrative
  • Encourage creativity and imagination

What three instructions would you suggest are key to game based learning?instructionsIn Rise of the video game: Level 1 (2012), the developer talks about 3 simple instructions to play the game “Pong”. If I had to give 3 instructions for game based learning, based on my knowledge thus far…which may well change…I would suggest:

  1. “Insert a quarter”

Learners need to “buy into” their learning. Create context, agency and credibility.

  1. “Ball will serve automatically”

Make it easy, convenient and comfortable for students to engage in game based learning. Consider learning styles, access and social and cultural context.

  1. “Avoid missing the ball”

Identify what outcome you want to achieve. Then set the challenge accordingly, so that students to develop the skills to achieve the desired learning outcomes.


Dickey, M. D. (2006), Game Design Narrative for Learning: Appropriating Adventure Game Design Narrative Devices and Techniques for the Design of Interactive Learning Environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, Vol. 54, No. 3  pp. 245-263. Retrieved from

[hauntdos}. 92012, November 4). Rise of the video game: Level 1 [Video file]. Retrieved from



April 14

What are some of the most important features of video games? Reflection 3.2

The writing of Wood et al (2004). The Structural characteristics of video Games: A psycho-structural analysis. Provides a powerful insight into what motivates gamers to play or to continue to play a game. The lessons learned offer a wealth of information for the educator trying to apply the principles of good games to promote learning.

In my opinion, the table below highlights some key considerations for the use of gaming concepts to improve engagement.

  • Most interestingly is the idea that gamers do not consider a linear structure, as important. This idea could/should revolutionise how we deliver subjects. Players like to explore new ideas and 75.2% rate an element of surprise as important in a good game. Learning should embrace this concept and introduce a more tangential approach to content, allowing exploration and introducing the element of surprise to motivate learners to continue to engage.
  • If 74.4% of gamers find fulfilling a quest as an important characteristic of the gaming experience, then a clear quest at the outset of the learning experience ought to be motivational. In order to fulfill that quest players seek to develop skills and to be recognised for that achievement.

Wood et al (2004) Participant ratings of structural Characteristics

Structural characteristics of good games Woods et al (2004)

Players enjoy a sense of “agency”   (Extra Credits 2012). The idea of being able to control their destiny. The concept that different choices have different outcomes develops a sense of empowerment. The option to achieve a different ending, find different things of collect different items all rank highly and support the idea that players and by comparison learners will respond positively to a sense of agency.


Another element which Woods et al (2004) point out as important is the absorption rate i.e. How quickly the player can get into the game. 76.5% of players rated this as important. Again I believe that in the classroom, learners need to be able to engage really quickly and easily with the learning “game” if they are to enjoy the experience.

The question which remains is how to do this… now that we know what is important, the implementation of these concepts remains challenging given the limitations of time, curriculum and expertise. Some of the concepts can easily be applied but some require major pedagogical shifts, which are just not that simple!



Extra Credits. (2012, May 13) Gamifying Education [Video file]. Retrieved from

Wood, R. T. A., Chappell, D., & Davies, M. N. O. (2004). The Structural characteristics of video Games: A psycho-structural analysisCyber Psychology & Behavior, 7(1), 1–10

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