May 252015

When starting the GBL subject, I had at the time a fairly broad (but shallow) knowledge of the sphere. I had read Gee, Prenksy and Van Eck. I knew what Gamification was, and even had a concept of Flow in games. I was aware of some issues around problem gamers (and as a teacher of digital technology I have been exposed to quite a few). I started with high hopes of a HOW.

Despite the quantity and quality of readings provided and done I still come back to the question that was presented in Module 4: The question many are trying to resolve is not what games are or do, but what exactly does education want from games?

The promises of GBL range from the overly optimistic (Educators who are passionate about games and want to embrace them, as evidenced by research by Bevis et al. (2014) to the those who are interested in trying to meet the challenges of at risk students living in a digital and connected world who are not engaged in contemporary classrooms or curriculum (See WowInSchools ,, ). Orr (2008) bring the main features and reasons for using GBL in the classroom down to two important factors, the engagement and motivation of students and the potential thinking and learning benefits. Gee (2003) who has over 7000 citations ( for this work, recognised these benefits and in subsequent years there has been an increasing amount of scholarly research, both quantitive and qualitative around using GBL (Tsai & Fan, 2013).

The recent (US) National Survey of Digital Games Among Teachers (Games and Learning Publishing Council, 2013) has shown that teachers report that lower performing students seem to benefit most from GBL. (See Fig 1) This is enticing for a lot of educators.

Fig 1: National Survey of Digital Games Among Teachers

Fig 1: National Survey of Digital Games Among Teachers


I agree with Squire(2005) when he says that teachers who think digital games will be a “silver bullet” because they are exciting and motivating will be disappointed. I also think that going down the gamification path, we run the risk of trivialising learning, Indeed, as Jordan Shapiro said in an interview with Banville (2013) “you can certainly trick [students] into learning, but they’re also learning it is a trick. When you use chocolate covered broccoli, to use the cliche, what kids learn is broccoli stinks unless it is covered in chocolate. They don’t learn that broccoli is good.”

To me, teaching Digital Technologies and Computing, GBL goes beyond leveraging games to teach. Connecting with games has shown me a deeper insight into what is, what is possible and what we should be doing. Dabbling in Ingress, WoW, Second Life were fun, but ultimately the time investment to leverage these is currently not possible. I was impress with the potential of Ingress, but did not ultimately engage in it, in contrast to others who seem to have run with it. Despite the literature and stories of success around simulations and virtual worlds, they are outside my area of interest at the moment. My school uses the TPAC and SAMR frameworks in a limited capacity, and GBL could fit within them if there were not a blanket ban on games. I would argue that the MR end of the framework are ideally suited for a lot of games, and given a perception of lower achieving groups within my school, GBL could be an opportunity to engage and connect with them.

The prospect of building games with students is the path that I am trying to carve out, and have started discussions with other curriculum areas to facilitate the development of educational games within my subject areas. I have run a unit on game design.  However, this is a complex and time-consuming undertaking and although has had some successes there is much room for improvement and even now at the end of INF541, it has raised as many questions as it has answered. At least I am learning where and how to look.



Banville, L. (2013, October 18). Shapiro: Games Allow Teachers to Reshape What and How They Teach . Retrieved May 22, 2015, from

Beavis, C., Rowan, L., Dezuanni, M., McGillivray, C., O’Mara, J., Prestridge, S., Stieler-Hunt, C. Thomsaon, R. & 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

Games and Learning Publishing CouncIL. (2013). Teachers Surveyed on Using Digital Games in Class
. Retrieved May 19, 2015, from

Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. Comput. Entertain., 1(1), 20–20.

Orr, K. (2008). 3D games-based learning environments in Northern Ireland classrooms: What do the teachers and pupils think of this technology?. 357-364. Paper presented at 2nd European Conference on Games-Based Learning, Barcelona, Spain.

Squire, K. (2005). Changing the Game: What Happens when Video Games Enter the Classroom? Innovate: Journal of Online Education, 1(6).

Tsai, C.-W., & Fan, Y.-T. (2013). Research trends in game-based learning research in online learning environments: A review of studies published in SSCI-indexed journals from 2003 to 2012. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(5), E115-E119. doi: 10.1111/bjet.12031

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