Critically Examine The Effectiveness of Digital Game-Based Learning


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This paper will critically examine the effectiveness of Digital Game-Based Learning (DGBL) and will start by presenting a broad definition of DGBL coupled with a description of the main issues it attempts to address.  This is followed by a critical analysis of three key studies on the use of online games in education which discuss what is meant by effective learning via digital games and the different kinds of learning experience that they offer. Finally, a conclusion will be drawn on the future potential of Digital Game-Based Learning.


Definition of Digital Game-Based Learning

Game-Based Learning is referred to as a digital entertainment means with simple instructional formulae serving an educational objective (Prensky, 2003; Clark, 2007; All, Nunez Castelar & Van Looy, 2016). In a book exploring the various approaches in which games can be used in class as instructional and formative tools without losing their primary role, that is of entertaining, Clark C. Abt (1987) referenced to Jean Piaget’s interpretation of knowledge as not being a copy past life situation. According to Piaget ‘To know an object is to act on it. To know is to modify, to transform the object, and to understand the process of this transformation, and as a consequence to understand the way the object constructed. An operation is thus the essence of knowledge; it is an internalised action which modifies the object of knowledge…intelligence is born of action’. Hence, games have been introduced to education as a new paradigm (Appendix 1 & 2) to answer the growing hype around applied games and the concern for a more interactive approach to learning given that digital natives are more boosted when they are using common ICT devices (Prensky, 2012). Therefore, DGBL is utilised as medium conveying teaching priorities forward with an enjoyable learning method.


‘Games and simulations have been an exciting and creative part of learning for many years’ (Butler, 1988). Formerly, electronic games were used by medical, military, aerospace and business sectors in order to stimulate students’ and or employees’ knowledge. Despite the poor graphics, games aimed to foster skills’ acquisition and real-world decision making. The enhancement of information technology engaged and laid the foundation to the establishment of digital games as part of the educational landscape.  Noticeably, in the early 1980s, a shift from simulation to Digital Game-Based Learning was due to the availability of personal computers and later on the increase in internet accessibility to people (Gros, 2007). In his ‘Third Generation Educational Use of Computer Games’, Egenfeldt-Nielsen (2007) further illustrated the fluctuation between three generation of game users (Appendix 3). The adoption of different learning characteristics would ultimately generate various types of players. Thus, behaviour, learner or setting focused games are important driving factors which resulted in providing three distinct digital experiences for users. Thanks to the advent of palm devices, educators now are more than ever interested in gaming and game elements to meet their learners’ concern (Prensky, 2012).

To avoid dry learning experiences, games as a system, owe to respect a set of rules and components.   According to Patricia Deuble (2006)  and  Begoña Gros (2007) games are classified as action, adventure, fighting, puzzle, role-play, sport and strategy. Moreover, Deuble called on educators’ consciousness in selecting the appropriate type as each one of them serve a specific learning content and purpose. Accordingly, other aspects should be taken into consideration such as age, gender, the role of players and teacher. Likewise, Paul Gee (2007) brings an insightful interpretation of DGBL by outlining 16 real learning components that are integrated within games namely ‘risk-taking’, ‘well-oriented problems’, ‘situation meaning’, ‘cross-functional teams’ and ‘performance before competence’. All of these principles, which are part of the gaming mechanics, should aimfully be considered while used with students because they ‘empower learners and create deep understanding’ (Edutopia, 2013).

Digital Game-Based Learning went beyond reviewing the brain as an information retainer. Transcendentally appealing for children and adolescents, digital games offer an immersion in a full world of challenge, amusement and curiosity. To wit, their advancement in ‘flexibility, adaptability, distribution’ (Gros, 2007), not to forget accessibility to a myriad of tools and roles, permitted education specialists to approach learning differently. Indeed, Prensky (2003) denoted that there is a mismatch between the way the two generations approach learning and knowledge.  He further explained that ‘the brain reorganizes and rewires itself in response to cultural stimuli, so a child who plays digital games at night is bored at class not because of “short attention span” or bad study habits but because the child’s brain has programmed itself to respond better to “twitch speed” interactivity” (ibid). Thus far, it is important to consider that ‘technology is integrated when it is used…to support and extend curriculum objectives and to engage students in meaningful learning’ (Dias, 1999; Zouaï, 2016) that would be an enhancement to knowledge transfer.


Critical review of existing research

First and in terms of effectiveness, popularity stands as the most used argument by literature.  Professor James Carse (1986) explained that expectations determine whether the survival quest is made of fear of failure or dying in each player or from a more playful and choicely experience with a set of alternatives. Thus, allowing every element of the play to transform game users by taking pleasure in every surprise they may meet. Those are the differences between finite and infinite players.” He, therefore, believes that augmented sense of achievement and fun are persuaded through the ability to choose over rough challenges. Moreover, DGBL could be associated with the ARCS model approach, an acronym introduced by Kellers (2010) and refers to Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction. In his book, Keller lists four concepts that may help to sustain learners’ engagement and hence acclaim among them. For this purpose, students’ attention can be hooked either through ‘perceptional arousal’ such as dilemmas or ‘inquiry arousal’ such as questions. This will help elevate their curiosity and thus their interest. In addition, the relatedness of the learning experience to their ‘present worth’ would help gain their self-confidence in the accomplishment of the task. Lastly, establishing a reward mechanism will uplift their self-satisfaction and enhance their involvement in gaming. Interestedly, the pamperedness around digital games is incremented through players’ simulated motivation and leveraged by their concern too.

Accordingly, motivation is another compelling aspect of DGBL. ‘Advocates for games suggest that they are highly motivating vehicles that could support learning, problem-solving, and collaborative skills’ (Clark, 2007). Ryan and Deci (2000) hold the view that intrinsic human motivation is as ‘volitional’ and ‘pervasive’ as any other psychological need. Consequently, ‘Digital Game-Based Learning as intrinsic motivation to perform an activity is associated with higher levels of enjoyment, interest, performance, higher quality of learning and heightened self-esteem’ (All et all, 2016). In support of this, the Flow Theory also suggests that a unique sense of purpose towards an activity would enhance concentration and thus interest. Csikszentmihalyi (2004) argues for the importance of equilibrating individual’s skills with challenge level. He also pointed out to the validity of clear feedback which weight in favour of learners’ autonomy. A motivated student, therefore, is an irrepressible trainee who enjoys autonomous learning through digital games.

Second, DGBL enhances learners’ learning strategy. ‘People learn more deeply from words and pictures than from words alone… this assertion – which can be called the multimedia principle– underlies much of the interest in multimedia learning’ (Mayer, 2014). A possible explanation of this can be illustrated by Mark Thomas (2009) and Prensky (2006, 2012) who asserted the role of digital games to turn players from passive students who listen and read instructions to active actors who interact and produce. Hence, players are put in a productive stage that would enable them to interact with online platforms as single, or multiplayer for the sake of creating games tactics and/ or editing the rules, for instance, which helps to level up their creative capacities. Furthermore, there is some evidence to suggest that gameness evolves the enhancement of internal and external cognitive processes. In ‘ Boys’ and Girls’ Use of Cognitive Strategy When Learning to Play Video Games’, Blumberg and Sokol (2004) separated between internal cognitive strategies, where experienced gamers would have acquired enough knowledge to understand the jargon or principles of a digital game, and external cognitive strategies where this learned knowledge would be transferred to other players (Appendix 4). The endorsement of autonomous self or collaborative cognitive performances has been proven recently to be a spontaneous behaviour undertaken by learners when exposed to ICT resources (Mitra, 2000). This makes ‘ remembering, retention, understanding and transfer’ (Mayer, 2001) as prevalent sequences in a multimedia learning environment. For this purpose, ‘ if learning can become a rich experience, the problem of forgetting can be managed’ (Dale, 1969).

Lastly, Digital Game-Based Learning improves basic educational skills and reduce health related issues among special needs learners. In ‘ Brain Plasticity Through the Life Span: Learning to Learn and Action Video Games’, Bravelier et all (2012) refer to the ability of gamers to analyse information and decide on the right follow-up action quickly. This was illustrated by a recruitment process by Royal Air Force towards gamers in order to drive drones. The cohort surpassed expectations by performing delegate mission with precision and tact. Likewise, Jane McGonigal (2007,2013)  inferred to the enhancement of leadership skills among game users. She believes that applied games elevate decision-making, autonomy and develop empathy. Further to that, Mark Griffiths (2002) hinted at the benefits in reducing reaction time, improving hand-eye coordination and promoting social integration among students with special needs. He further explained saying that digital games offer ‘the visual pattern, speed and storyline that help children’s basic skills development.’ (ibid). In addition, DGBL has been considered by live stream books and literature reviews as real boosters over the acquisition of linguistic, mathematical or reading skills.

Nevertheless, the ability to enhance knowledge acquisition through Digital Game-Based Learning has been a matter of disjoint among the literature. The lack of empirical research in the interactive digital media field has not helped ‘edugaming’ industries to merge game design with learning principles. This is probably due to the initial focus of DGBL on ‘instructional authority’ rather than on ‘students’ performances’ (Clark, 2007). ‘The implication is that educational decision-makers may, out of bias and/ or a lack of understanding, discount or discourage investment in serious games’ (ibid). Similarly, Clark (2007) further argues that digital games are highly-priced products and then not accessible by education industry. In ‘Why video Games Are So Expensive to Develop’ The Economist (2014) lists a set of reasons namely the high-quality graphs and its use in the cinema business, add to the rise in ‘professionalism’ in the domain makes digital media quite costly. ‘ There is no wonder, as thus far, most large-scale game-based learning efforts have been conducted in the absence of good theories of learning’ (Squire, 2005). In addition, despite educators’ positive attitude towards integrating a multimedia tool in a classroom setting, most of them reported in a study by Mcfarlane et all (2002) the difficulty in selecting the right game and match it with their lessons. They also expressed their concern on the time it protracted while aiming to achieve the curriculum’s targets.

There is an urge to search for better scientific measurement of DGBL (Jan, 2010). Since education, as an industry is obstinate with the assessment of the output; researchers are challenged to find ‘robust evidence’ (Clark, 2007) in order to prove the effectiveness of digital games on motivating, and enhancing students’ cognitive outcomes.  In an attempt to initiate a standardised process to evaluate Digital Game-Based Learning validity, All et all (2016) pointed out that most of the previously mentioned methods suffer from some serious limitations. This inconsistency may be due to the type of game elements, interaction features and feedback. For instance, it is hard to come out with a general rule while studying the use of serious games and MMOGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Games) in a classroom setting as there is no similarity between design elements and instruction principles. ‘It is clear that a more standardized approach is not only possible but is required to be able to improve rigorousness of DGBL effectiveness research and define guidelines’(ibid).

Beyond the perception, cost, and measurement of Digital Game-Based Learning, the primary concern is on individuals’ cognitive fulfilment.  ‘Motivation is not a prerequisite to learning’ (All et all, 2016). Instead, current pedagogical trends are more attentive to creating learning opportunities aiming to foster reflection and autonomy in and outside of the classroom. In his seminal study (Games Are Motivating, Aren’t They? Disputing The Arguments for Digital Game-Based Learning), Wim Westera (2015) critically examines the level of cognitive and deductive involvement of DGBL.  On the one hand, he denoted current ICT (Information Communications and Technology) trends in profiling users’ attitude towards a product instead of estimating the level of their cognitive flow. According to him, this constitutes a biased feedback built on a no-fail policy performance which is gained during a short period of time. Thus, it engenders ‘superficial meta-cognitive learning’ which makes it harder to evaluate the degree of understanding. On the other hand, Westera did not acknowledge the idea of ‘learning by doing’ through digital games. The adoption of hit-and-miss approach by gamers is a significant lack of interpretation in comprehending a new situation.  Apparently, this shows an absence of intellectual involvement while playing. As a result, users would adopt a performance-oriented strategy rather than an educational-oriented one.



In recent years, Digital Game-Based Learning got more attention vis-à-vis their popularity and implementation in the learning process. The problem addressed in this paper was to examine the effectiveness of gaming among learners. A comparative between the available studies that acknowledge the role of applied games as sources of motivation, social integration and knowledge acquisition tools and those who minimalize the performances of games based on the lack of secured measurement evidence to justify the outcomes. Thereupon, ‘I challenge anyone to show me a literature review of empirical studies about game-based learning. There are none…We need studies’(Blunt, 2007). Unless there is a collaboration between the educational and gaming industries, little attention will be given to the reliability and validity of interactive digital media. Hence an imperative call from various scholars namely Cannon-Bowers Jan (2010) who emphasised the importance of aligning both sectors and encouraging researchers in this field to help game designers. By doing so, they will contribute to enlarging ‘ the body of evidence that explains what factors and conditions produce most favourable outcomes’ (Westera, 2015).

However, the future of DGBL is constantly evolving due to the advancement in technology. With the rise of transformative technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), empathy interaction and Virtual Reality (VR), primary usage were integrated in medical, space and science fields (ESA, 2015) but the recommendations are that (1) educators should be trained on the use of serious games to better design digital game-based lesson (Appendix 5), (2) learners should be made aware and encouraged to reflect on their cognitive performances, (3) and game designers should work hand in hand with teachers to meet methodological requirements.

To sum up, Digital Game-Based Learning was able recently to captivate the attention of stakeholders, thanks to recent tech improvements and the growing number of game users. Nevertheless, there is insufficient support for its adoption as an integral part of learning as a system, and that is chiefly because there is a need to more evidence on its effectiveness apart from its amusement side.




All, A., Nuñez Castellar, E.P. & Van Looy, J. (2016) Assessing the effectiveness of digital game-based learning: Best practices. Computers and Education. 92–9390–103.

Bavelier, D., Green, C.S., Pouget, A. & Schrater, P. (2012) Brain Plasticity Through the Life Span: Learning to Learn and Action Video Games. Annual Review of Neuroscience. 35 (1), 391–416.

Blumberg, F.C. & Sokol, L.M. (2004) Boys’ and girls’ use of cognitive strategy when learning to play video games. The Journal of General Psychology. 131 (2), 151–158.

Blunt, R. (2007) Does Game-Based Learning Work? Results from Three Recent Studies. Available from: (Accessed 12 April 2017).

Butler, J.T. (1988) Games and simulations: Creative educational alternatives. TechTrends. 33 (4), 20–23.

carse, J. (1986) Finite and Infinite Games a Vision of Life as Play and Possibility. The Free Press.

Clark, C.A. (1987) Serious Games. University Press of America.

Clark, R.E. (2007) Learning from serious games? Arguments, evidence, and research suggestions. Educational Technology. 47 (3), 56–59.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2004) Flow, le secret du bonheur.

Dale, E. (1969) Google-Books-ID: s6ocAAAAMAAJ. Audiovisual methods in teaching. Dryden Press.

Deubel (2006) Game On! –.  Available from: (Accessed 5 April 2017).

Dias, L.B. (1999) Integrating technology. Learning and Leading with Technology. 2710–13.

Edutopia (2013) James Paul Gee on Learning with Video Games.

Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S. (2007) Third generation educational use of computer games. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia. 16 (3), 263–281.

ESA (2015) From Video Games to Outer Space, the Sky is the Limit for Virtual Reality. Available from: (Accessed 13 April 2017).

GameLearn (2017) Game-based Learning and Serious Games. Gamelearn: Game-based learning courses for soft skills training

Gee, J.P. (2007) Good Video Games and Good Learning: Collected Essays on Video Games, Learning and Literacy. 1 edition. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc.

Griffiths, M.D. (2002) The educational benefits of videogames Education and Health.

Gros, B. (2007) Digital Games in Education: The Design of Games-Based Learning Environments. Journal of Research on Technology in Education. 4023–38.

Hamlen, K.R. (2011) Children’s choices and strategies in video games. Computers in Human Behavior. 27 (1), 532–539.

Henkle, G. (2012) Sophie’s Choice: The Game. Available from: (Accessed 26 February 2017).

Jan, C.-B. (2010) Serious Game Design and Development: Technologies for Training and Learning: Technologies for Training and Learning. IGI Global.

Keller, J.M. (2010) Motivational Design for Learning and Performance: The ARCS Model Approach. 2010 edition. New York: Springer.

Mayer, R.E. (2001) Multimedia Learning. Cambridge University Press.

Mayer, R.E. (2014) Google-Books-ID: Cvw6BAAAQBAJ. The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning. Cambridge University Press.

Mcfarlane, A., Sparrowhawk, A. & Heald, Y. (2002) Report on the educational use of games.

McGonigal, J. (2007) Gamers have skills. Let’s tap ’em. Christian Science Monitor

McGonigal, J. (2013) The Hard Part is the Fun Part (convocation speech). you found me.

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Prensky, M. (2003) Digital Game-based Learning. Comput. Entertain. 1 (1), 21–21.

Prensky, M. (2006) Google-Books-ID: aP0rAQAAIAAJ. Don’t Bother Me Mom–I’m Learning!: How Computer and Video Games are Preparing Your Kids for 21st Century Success – and How You Can Help! Paragon House.

Prensky, M. (2012) From digital natives to digital wisdom: hopeful essays for 21st century learning. Thousand Oaks, Calif. ; London: Corwin.

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Squire, K. (2005) Game-based learning: present and future state of the field.

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Thomas, C. (2009) Games-Based Learning Advancements for Multi-Sensory Human Computer Interfaces: Techniques and Effective Practices: Techniques and Effective Practices. IGI Global.

Westera, W. (2015) Games are motivating, aren´t they? Disputing the arguments for digital game-based learning. Available from: (Accessed 13 April 2017).

Zouaï, G. (2016) Algerian Education Reform: Examining the ICT Implementation in the Schooling System. E-cool





Appendix 1




Appendix 2





Appendix 3




Appendix 4




Appendix 5









Change Versus Improvement


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In the last 5 years or more, the word change was in my opinion massively overused by conference speakers, journalists, researchers, and heavily by politicians.  Consumed by youth, the term referenced in many ways to other sub-synonyms such as uprise, overthrow and revolution. The question was never a matter of cultural or intellectual shift but a more political move to an uncertain or unknown future.

It is always important to define words. Only then the full sense of a sentence would be clear. According to Oxford online dictionary, the word change means to ‘ Make or become different’. If you look at the business and legal meaning of the same word, you would find absolutely the same statement: ‘Make or become different’. Thus, it suggests that anyone who has the will to ‘change’ should opt for a whole new order. At this level, we are not confident enough on the embodied concept and feel threatened. Indeed, the word ‘change’ has a high level of uncertainty when used to refer to the future. Quite negative, it leaves little information about how ‘change’ should be done and what would be the outcome.

In most all of the conferences I’ve recently been, that WORD was exaggeratedly voiced out to the audience. 17 was the number of times a speaker in a TEDx conference uttered the word ‘change’. I think by repeating things, people absorb quickly new concepts and start using it.  Therefore, the more frequent your public is exposed to it, greater are your chances they will accept it.


I’d rather listen to someone who would talk about improvement rather than change. I think when someone speaks about improving our life, I assume that there is a through plan that needs everybody’s contribution. A more comprehensive, context related action which focuses on results without undermining the procedures. So next time you use one of the above, be aware that they do not mean the same and their impact is different.


Pros and Recommendations for Twitter and Blogs in Class


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Here is a video on the advantages of using Twitter and Blogs. You will also find some useful recommendations to use in the classroom for a better classroom management.



You can also have a look at the main cited points below:




Or download the full presentation here: pros-and-recommendations-for-twitter-and-blogs-use-in-class

The Future of Teaching

Considered as a threat, technology is described as the tool that would replace the legendary know-all human actor in class, the teacher. The co-existence between teaching and technology has always been the core of most education based discussions. Hence, educators are painted ‘as an unnecessary aspect of learning process’ (Catone, 2009) in the future. The reason behind such a concern is that ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) or AI (Artificial Intelligence) intrusion in is sharply replicating teachers’ best behaviour online.  In an interview with The Guardian, Third Space Learning CEO, Tom Hopper explains that what Tech Ed companies are interested in is,‘ the right blend of human and artificial intelligence in the classroom – identifying that sweet spot’ (Devlin, 2016). This passionate debate can lead us to review the raison d’être of educators in 2oth century. In other words, questions about the quality of prospective teaching performances and their effectiveness should be addressed promptly to secure a more dynamic and meaningful role for instructors in the age of technology.


Teachers and Globalisation

Globalisation, as a universal world order, developed a set of notions on the effectiveness of educators in the future. On a fundamental basis, teachers should have a global perspective in mind. Thus, and in the same way as in the economic sector, instructors should show high-quality teaching and a competitive spirit. Further challenges were highlighted through the prioritisation of ‘teaching ethics’ (Sahlberg, 2004) that should go beyond the traditionally defined model. With this in mind, instructors will be involved in entrepreneurial teaching in order not to be marginalised by new changes in pedagogical practices. As a result, a shift from a transmitter of knowledge to a more flexible business person like actor in the school is more favourite. So, head teachers are more in need of instructors who show skills such as risk-taking and decision making in order to face schools’ daily challenges.


Pedagogical implications have also contributed in redefining the educators’ status quo inside educational institutions. The introduction of palm devices led to the emergence of new teaching methods. As a consequence, there is a high demand for the adoption of appropriate content knowledge with technology-based approaches such as ‘Technology, Pedagogical Content Knowledge ( TPACK )’ (Dias, 1999) framework. By doing so, teachers will be aligned with the education market value. In addition, they will help in the sustainability of their countries respectively. Although there is a global interest in keeping teachers actively implicated in the education system, very little is known about the how, when and with whom should the above new mould be applied.


Teachers and Future Skills

Sir Michael Barber (2013), former  Chief Education Advisor for Tony Blair, believes that the emphasis should be on the quality of teachers. Indeed, due to a shortage in the teachers’ workforce which was caused by the increase in “population growth and expanded access to education’ (The UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2006), the quality of the delivered knowledge noticeably decreased. To meet this new situation, educators are encouraged to ‘rethink the ways teaching and learning are organised in schools’(Sahlberg, 2004). By doing so, they should for instance show more flexibility, promote collaboration and creativity and act as the facilitator in the classroom. To put it differently, it is a more learner-driven approach where the teacher would gain different responsibilities in order to meet the student expectations. This flexibility in teaching would also be noticed in managing the class in particular and school in general. It can also move from a fixed presence in an institution to a more mobile and interactive responsibility with multiple educational organisations such as higher education. Thus, a flip in the roles of both teachers and learners is highly expected.


Éva Ujlakyné Szücs (2009) explains that instructors’ adoption of new traits should also be bound with the mastery of technical skills. Again, the omnipresence of the ghost of technology replacing teachers is undoubtedly one of the most feared threats. Therefore, educators are encouraged to undertake professional development training in order to gain the right skills. Being updated on recent ICT trends, most used social media and commonly used IT materials would give them an in-depth view on learners’ main daily concerns. In addition, it can help them elevate the students’ engagement and involvement in class. Furthermore, ‘interactive media environments and immersive learning games’  (Berry, 2010) have already given new online performances for instructors. Widely present on the internet in the last decade, there is a boom in collaborative websites where teachers share their practices like in  Sharing their best tips and trick with other unknown colleagues shows their readiness in using ‘tools like experience beaming’ to spread’ (ibid) their know-how, globally collaborate and network with other educators.


Teachers Socioeconomic Status

The idealistic image of teachers, who are assumed to embody best traits and know all about life, is vanishing or being replaced by a more democratic perception of their role in society. The traditional structure of the profession will greatly change and ‘a wide variety of virtual professional learning opportunities’ (Berry, 2010) will appear. As mentioned earlier, the mobility of educators in performing in more than one educational institution will be possible. Add to the professional socialisation which impacts enormously on their career path.

Probably the only resistance in the future would be towards the assessment system. New IT tools will be introduced to assess instructors’ effectiveness. The reliance on such technology would also be relevant in the recruitment stage. This may lead to distrust between policymakers, schools and teachers. Such a split would widen the disengagement performance of educators, as it is expected now.




Teaching, as a profession that existed for ages, is now in the spotlight due to the introduction of technology. A global demand in raising educators’ skills is very necessary so that ‘tomorrow’s schools will be designed to meet the needs of the information economy’ (Levine, 2016). However, there is no clear image of the future teacher. Most of the academic literature speculate about the most desirable characteristics instructors in the 21st century should have, probably because they failed in demonstrating them. Online assessment of teachers’ performances may be another danger to the stability of the schooling system. Hence, ‘the whole thing become toxic…it is really important that we do it right’ (Devlin, 2016).






Berry, B. (2010) The Teachers of 2030: Creating a Student-Centered Profession for the 21st Century. Center for Teaching Quality.

Bush Foundation (2013) Sir Michael Barber – Education in the 21st Century.

Catone, J. (2009) What is the Future of Teaching? [Online] [online]. Available from: (Accessed 1 January 2017).

Devlin, H. (2016) Could online tutors and artificial intelligence be the future of teaching? The Guardian. 26 December.

Dias, L.B. (1999) Integrating technology. Learning and Leading with Technology. 2710–13.

Levine, A. (2016) Wanted: Teachers With The Skills And Knowledge To Succeed In Today’s And Tomorrow’s Schools. [Online] [online]. Available from: (Accessed 2 January 2017).

Sahlberg, P. (2004) Teaching and Globalization. nternational Research Journal of Managing Global Transitions, 2(1), 65-83.

The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2006) Teachers and Educational Quality: Monitoring Global Needs for 2015. [Online] [online]. Available from: (Accessed 4 January 2017).

Ujlakyné Szucs, É. (2009) The role of teachers in the 21st century. Sens Public.











Algerian Education Reform: Examining the ICT Implementation in the Schooling System


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It is commonly assumed that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is currently at the core of most reforms related to the teaching and learning process in North African countries which aim to better equip the next generation with 21st-century skills. The challenge of setting up second-generation educational reforms requires a myriad of time, structure, and resources. Driven by a will to enhance educational performances and embrace the digital world, the Ministry of National Education (MoE) in Algeria introduced a new reform program in 2000. Outlining a through plan to underpin the creation of higher educational and technological competencies, for greater accountability and with a vision for increased sustainability for the country. However, the analogy between the use of technology and pedagogical purposes remained considerably disassociated which further widened the gap between the desired outcome and the designed policy (Navia and Velasco, 2003).

This blog post critically discuss the internal and external factors that led to the education reform of 2000 in Algeria. It will then move on to highlight the key barriers. Finally, a set of ideas will be suggested for possible actions in the future.



Contextual Factors Influencing Curricular Reform in Algeria


It has been commonplace to distinguish between “outside” and “inside” factors (Fullen, 2001) of new policies in education. On the one hand, it is reasonable to say that the first is mostly related to the democratisation of education systems as a utopian model for countries like Algeria. Since the final decades of the 20th century, neoliberal ideas have been thought of as the principal actor influencing government impetuous programs to meet high market demand.  As such, the new Algerian curriculum was mostly advanced in the form of enhancement and empowerment of educators’ teaching quality and learners’ interpersonal skills with a focus on technical abilities. Similarly, we see evidence of this in the Moroccan and Tunisian reforms too, where quality and accessibility are emphasised in the same respect. Therefore, the apparent implementation neutrality of these reform measures in pedagogy is more likely to look like a call to action (Freire, 1998. Scapp, 2016) to build a neoliberal pedagogy rather than a consolidated political framework relevant to local needs.


Another significant aspect of neoliberal influence in education reforms, is the global competitiveness of the workforce. In relation, an extensive training project across Algeria called “e-Education” was introduced, targeting both administrators and teachers alike (Educ Recherche, 2011). The aim was to equip staff with the right social and professional resources and numerical skills.  The training consisted of four modules: basic digital literacy, ICT in use, ICT tools integration, and online education. Consequently, over 50,000 secondary and 102,000 primary teachers were trained between 2001 and 2007 (ibid). In a similar case, but on a smaller scale, the “ICT in education for Iraq” project trained 21e-content developers, 22 core team and 520 teachers (UNESCO Iraq Office). Nevertheless, the MoE strategy in building employees’ capacities failed to attain its primary targets. Teachers for example complained about the lack of time, equipment and ICT techniques in order to adapt the acquired knowledge in class.

One of the current discussions is on the belief of competences influencing the school curriculum (Benadla, 2012). In agreement with this, the establishment of new teaching methods tremendously impacted on teaching and learning practices. Hence the introduction of the Competency Based Approach, known also as the CBA, in most of the taught courses in both primary and secondary schools in Algeria. In 2003, the Ministry of National Education has broadly defined competency-based education as a ‘know-how-to-act process which interacts and mobilizes a set of capacities, skills and an amount of knowledge that will be used effectively in various problem situations or in circumstances that have never occurred before’ (ibid); it is viewed as a “tectonic shift” (Robertson, 2007) from the traditional teaching habits. Correspondingly, in a recent interview by Educ Recherche, LeBrun (2011) pointed out that it is high time for educators to transform traditional teaching methods. He also insisted on the fact that pedagogical reforms and technologies are not just solutions for policy development but necessary tools due to a profound economic, social and political transformation in fast-changing societies. Although this may be true, there is a huge misunderstanding around the practicality of the CBA. As a result, a teacher-centered approach is most likely to be adopted because of large classes.


On the other hand, internal factors contributed also to the new reforms in education. Considerable exposure of Algerian youth to new palm devices, such as smartphones, and the use of Internet have contributed to social transformation. For example, Internet penetration greatly increased from 16.5% in 2013 to 46% in 2015 (ARTP, 2015). Reportedly, a plan to install internet network in every high school was launched jointly by the MoE and Ministry of ICTs. Widely utilized on the World Wide Web, the English language was also presented in different electronic forms. In other word, users found themselves in front of a digital lingua franca that connected them with a wealth of information. In this regard also, and as part of the capacity-building program, more than 1700 secondary school teachers were trained on how to teach English as a foreign language. Although technology and languages are viewed as building blocks of modern societies, young people still use digital tools at their primary level (LeBrun, 2011) and are not comfortable in using foreign language like English, due to a lack of practice.


Enterprise in education is another factor that influenced the Algerian reform of 2000. Although the government spending on education is considerably high, the lack of achieving greater results remains very low. This led, in 2003, to the emergence of new private schools, as a result of neoliberal economic policies. Therefore, it brought a variety of educational institutions, from American international primary schools to Islamic institutes and community schools. Let us take the example of Lebanon, where the private spending is 3 times that of the government (Rugh, 2002).  Consequently, there was a mushrooming of privatized educational institutions. Even though the number of private schools is very low compared to state schools, they both were unsuccessful in providing learners with the necessary skills for the world of work. Tied by the free market (Robertson, 2007), educational reforms were not also able to step out the knowledge transfer culture.

Factors Inhibiting the Reform


The following parts of this paper move on to describe dominant forces limiting the deployment of the Algerian second-generation education reform. Although the government invested a huge budget on equipping schools with IT devices such as desktops, only some schools – mostly in the north of the country – had computer laboratories. Thus, lacking access to the machines resulted in teachers abandoning the idea if ICT integration in class. They then were put in a “digital divide” (Tondeur et al, 2016) position. This means that instead of having free access to the IT clusters, they found themselves occasionally granted the place when the session’s main theme was on new technologies only. Furthermore, learners’ exposure to technology, which was restricted to 40 minutes per week, was regarded as inadequate (Dias, 1999; Bessada, 2013). Such limitations would indisputably result in losing most of the invested in knowledge and lacking achievement in relation to the anticipated benefit of investment.


Professional development, as an essential part of the reform chain, was weakened likewise by lack of IT devices. Thus, educators find it hard to put in practice the learned techniques. Even though there are no exact figures on how teachers learn during professional development trainings (Wilson and Berne, 1999), it is important to invest in the right equipment in order to facilitate the integration of ICT in class. According to some critics, “If nationally developed standards are influencing the preparation of new teachers, there would be increased alignment of policies and practice with standards” (Iris et al. 2001). In other words, if educators are provided with the materials that they were trained on, then they are more likely to implement it in their lesson plans.

Whilst ICT integration is an essential component in the Algerian reform, it was not used appropriately by the trainees. The use of information communication and technology allows learners to further develop their core skills. Hence, Dias (1999) suggests that, “technology is integrated when it is used…to support and extend curriculum objectives and to engage students in meaningful learning”. It is therefore essential to consider using either the PITICK (Pedagogical Technology Integrated Content Knowledge) (Dias, 1999) or TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) (Herring, Mishra and Koehler, 2006) framework in order to enhance students’ skills. The need to maximize the contact and use of devices, such as tablets, in class is as important as the need to design pedagogical content that matches the learning outcomes. There are five stages to technology integration: entry, adoption, adaptation, appropriation and invention (Sandholtz, Ringstaff and Dwyer, 1997; Dias, 1999).  Unfortunately, trained educators are blocked at the adaptation phase due to the administrative limitation and lack of access to the computer labs.

In addition, it is worth mentioning that there was an unbalanced distribution of policy decisions. For example, universities along with high schools benefited from the establishment of new computer resource centers whereas primary and secondary schools did not benefit to the same extent. Notably, it would have been more effective to provide such resources to first trained cohort. Furthermore, familiarizing young learners with new concepts or resources, such as phones, would more likely result in a frequent manipulation of these devices. Consequently, if the schooling equipment process was reversed, it would be easier to prepare the new millennium learners.

This blog post investigated the initiation of the reform of 2000 in Algeria through the implementation of ICT in the education system. According to some critics, newly mandated policies should not be viewed as “alms to glorify reforms” (Haddar, 2015) but measured decisions to be assessed for a profound growth. Thus, despite the government policy development to fit within global standards, questions have raised about the feasibility and sustainability of such policies. Unfortunately, the reform failed to overlap between physical technological equipment and pedagogical incorporation of course books’ content. It further lacked coordination between educators and administrators to use the labs which had been set up.

In addition, it worth mentioning that there was an unbalanced distribution of policy decisions. For example, universities along with high schools benefited from the establishment of new computer resource centers against primary and secondary schools. Noticeably, it would have been more effective to provide such resources to first trained cohort. Furthermore, recent research has provided / proved that familiarizing young learners with new concepts or resources such as phones would more likely result in a frequent manipulation of these devices. Consequently, if the schooling equipment process was unversed, it would have been easier to prepare the new millennium learners.

The findings of this paper indicate that for better assistance to both the teachers and learners, there should be (1) follow-up sessions to further support educators on how to use the acquired knowledge in order to plan their lessons. In addition, (2) giving access to palm devices to a large number of young learners and for more than 40 minutes would result in enabling the next generation to be more familiar with new technologies and to cope with changes. Administrative wise, (3) building up a sound collaborative culture within schools and between the educators and principles would result in greater alignment in task achievement. Furthermore, (4) adopting task assessment measures would help evaluate the reform progress and outcomes.






ARPT (Regulatory Authority of the Post and Telecommunication). (2015) Press Release: ARPT Activities Report, p.1 – 9


Bensaada, A. (2013) ICT and Algerian Education. at: (Accessed: 8 November 2016)


Dias, L.B. (1999) ‘Integrating Technology’, Learning and Leading with Technology, 27 (3), p.11-13


Educ Recherche. (2011) ‘ICT in the Service of Education’, INRE, 2, p.7 – 11


Educ Recherche. (2011) ‘Interview with Marcel LEBRUN, INRE, 2, p.12 – 21


Freire, P. (1998) Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage. Rowman & Littlefield.


Fullan, M. (2007) The new meaning of educational change. New York: Teachers College Press


Haddar,Y. (2015) The malaise of the reforms of the Algerian educational system, at (Accessed: 4 November 2016)

Herring, M., Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P.  (2016). Handbook of technological pedagogical content knowledge (2nd edition). New York: Routledge.


Iris, R. Weiss. Knapp, M.S. Karen, S. Hollweg, and Burril G. (2001) Investigating the Influence of Standards: A Framwork for Research in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.


Navia, P. and Velasco, A. (2003) ‘The Politics of Second-generation Reforms.’ After the Washington Consensus: Restarting Growth and Reform in Latin America. Washington, DC, United States: Institute for International Economics.


Toneur, J. Forkosh-Baruch, A. Prestridge,S. Albion, P and Shiyama. (2010) ‘Responding to Challenges in Teacher Professional Development for ICT Integration in Education’, Educational Technology and Society, 19 (3), p.110 – 120


Robertson, S.L. (2007) ‘Remaking the World’: Neoliberalism and the Transformation of Education and Teachers’ Labour. New York: Palgrave


Rugh, W.A. (2002) ’ Arabic Education: Tradition, Growth and Reform’, Middle East Journal, 56 (3), p.396 – 414


Scapp, R. (2014) Reclaiming Education: Moving Beyond the Culture of Reform. Springer


UNESCO Iraq Office. ICT Education for Iraq: External Evaluation Report, p.3 – 11


Wilson, S.M. and Berne, J. (1999) ‘Teacher Learning and the Acquisition of Professional Knowledge: An Examination of Research on Contemporary Professional Development’, Review of Research in Education, 24, p 173 – 209













Promoting My People: Abdou Harbi

Decided to promote Algerian achievement in-country and abroad…Starting with Abderrahmane Harbi someone i know and I collaborated with. What’ve retained from this video is the wealth of reflective questions that he came out with along with his co-presenter.


Link here:

Things to consider about in the future: When engaging in any activity, give yourself time to think back on what you said, did, and questions. Do an on-spot vs in-depth reflection type of game.


Connectivism: Strengths sand Weaknesses


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While reading Connectivism: a learning Theory for the Digital Age by George Siemens, it very much reminded me of a famous French philosopher , Paul Ricoeur. This latter argued that knowledge can be build on ‘collective memories’ that can then shape our understanding of life. Siemens and Downer talk about the same concept which they call ‘ network ‘ or ‘connections’ ( Siemens, 2004 . Downes, 2012) which are social or cultural shared information that we get to know in an informal learning environment. They also emphasis on the fact that being developing such collaborative skills, it would be very useful while using online tools .

There is no better way to understand what an author wants to say, but to listen to him/ her saying it. In the below video George Siemens further explains what Connectivism is all about. Interestedly, the focus of this theory is on getting individuals learning daily basic knowledge that may help them not only understand complex concepts but basic ideas too.


In the below infographics, I’ve tried to look at the strengths and weaknesses of Connectivism.






Anon (n.d.) A Critique of Connectivism as a Learning Theory.

Anon (2016) Connectivism. Wikipedia

Downes, S. (2012) Connectivism and Connective Knowledge.

Edgar, D.W. (2012) Learning Theories and Historical Events Affecting Instructional Design in Education. SAGE Open. 2 (4), 2158244012462707.

Kop, R. & Hill, A. (2008) Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past? The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning. 9 (3), .

Sahin, M. (n.d.) CONNECTIVISM AS A LEARNING THEORY: Advantages and Disadvantages Based on Teachers' Views.

UOC – Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (n.d.) George Siemens – Connectivism: Socializing Open Learning.

#EDU8213: Are we ready for change?


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It’s been a long and rich week. For many, it was synonym of change in all its dimensions and also new experiences. I’ll try modestly reflect on the things that I’ve learnt so far using some old techniques in explaining the why of the why not and being as brief as possible because there is a wealth of knowledge that I think should be shared here.

We generally have a saturated vision. A vision that has so many information and details but that doesn’t go beyond the upfront. Our vision, right now: at the #EDU8213 course looks like the below painting. We see the face of education, we know the characteristics of a good vs. a bad education, we give names to the multiple faceted methods but the background is still blurred. We can team up then to help find clear ideas in order to draw  a common masterpiece.


I’ll use the SOLO Taxonomy (ST) to try to understand most of the questions that I thought about during this course. The ST is basically a model that describes how we connect different elements, like ideas, together in order to get the full picture. Thus, I will use this strategy to connect what Christos Korolis and Maha Bali spoke about with those of Dr.Robert Epistein’s article ‘ The Empty Brain’

Sketching our speakers’ concerns on the future of education, most of them agreed on an almost common explanation. Education should be the channel to make learners’ engage  and pored in a thinking process rather than pouring their school life with a flow of information. As such, new pedagogical approaches tend to sound like a business plan or a blue print. So you will find all the business jargon such as sustainable, manageable, leadership…ect. The list is a bit log but you can learn more about recent learning methods on Resources for Rethinking.


There is a strong state of fear around the future of education. Many of my classmates blogged and talked about it. We are afraid of technology and how it may change the way we learn, neo-liberal influences and why it wants to  turn the world into a village, offline and online identity and to what extend we will be free. So many pending questions that we hardly can answer. This again is helping us understand how the education system works and what might challenge us as educators.


Cristos Korolis and other speakers on the weekly EDU8213 sessions talked about ‘ The Future Citizens’. It does sound very futuristic, where we want the new generation to be like Übermensch  (Friedrich Nietzsche, 1883). Recent researches on employment for instance talk about employers as individuals who can speak many languages, have interpersonal skills , can code, network and build higher links with both customers and suppliers. Obviously, technology would help to do that and I imagine some of the future tools that we will have would intelligently be nano-nteractive. However, I think we are expecting too much from the next generation. They are not Durga, with respect to Hindu religion, and cannot perform and learn all these skills at once. We need to give room to experience and failure in our communities.


‘The Empty Brain’, was an eye opening article. Dr. Robert Epistein , an American psychologist, journalist and author, asserted that our brain does not reproduce the same thing in the same way. He illustrated saying that when we tell a story to someone and ask him/ her to retell it a second time after one week, they will not be able to reproduce exactly the same story. He also provided an other example when he asked one of his students, Jinny, to reproduce a one note dollar in a paper. Although we are familiar with objects or concepts but we hardly will reproduce them in the same way. Further to that Dr. Epistein mentioned the history behind our ‘ brain processing like a computer’ utopia which he thinks it is an old weak funded idea that has no legitimacy. I agree with some of the ideas he introduced but would advise you to not read this article in late evening as it will make your brain run like a processor.


Complete Image


I’m still thinking about all of the above ideas. Either we glorify some of them or want to ignore others, all I know is we need to be sure on the type of education we want for our next generation. One of the most profound and life lasting knowledge you can get, is the one you learn it with your dad, mom, grand parents or relatives. In Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T.Kiyosaki, we get to know how rich parents teach their children to sustain their businesses, where money would generate benefit. Whereas for less fortunate parents the tendency is on how to generate money. Thus, the cultural difference in teaching things is for sure a way to show that we learn based on the way we see things. In other words, we need our culture, community combined with new techniques and technology and empowered by strong political decisions to get a responsible generation and not a dreamed like group of people.


The Future of Education: What to Consider? Part II


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As a follow up to the first part of how the future of teaching and learning should be shaped, an other speaker, Maha Bali:  at the Edu8213 platform, has joined  her voice with those who were in favour of considering global awareness towards learners.  However there are some pending questions to whether education should be inspired or fashioned by international corporates and political policies.

We are apparently in the heard of a huge movement that is aiming to introduce a refreshed education paradigm.

What we are sure of is we would like both teaching and learning to be pleasant, effective and aimful regardless the means we use to achieve that.

The Future of Education: What to Consider? Part I


This is a mix match between Korolis Hristos and Lis Losh ideas on the future of teaching and learning. It is important at this stage to listen and consider each researchers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs’ contribution. It is worth also mentioning that the main groups (students and teachers) who are involved in this process should be given more opportunities to oversee their roles 20 years from now.


The word sensitivity is quite intrusive and generally doesn’t have that positive meaning. It tend to warn in some cases or make you aware about things that should be dealt with in others. Please when reading the below consider the second definition.

          Global Identity:

There is this tendency to make a global world by having global goals. The idea is to unify each other under one concept like understanding the global awareness on gender equality in schools for instance. Still, there are things that were probably not explored such as: how objective would this concept be? Will it be including everyone around the world? And most importantly how effective will it be?  

It appears that there is no such an idea of one identity online. I remember a TED talk where the speaker claimed that at the beginning Internet was used to connect people. One of the most outstanding examples you may tell me is Facebook. When using FB for the first time, how any of us did have foreigner on their contact list? If you check it now you will see that their number decreased enormously. The same TED speaker argued that actually the primarily excitement users showed at the beginning for them being part of one entity was no longer witnessed. On the contrary, graphs showed people grouping themselves spontaneously according to their social, cultural, religious and even economic backgrounds. Thus, would students accept that their offline identity been ignored or swiped away for the sake of a unified global education policy. 


        Global Awarness:

Online and offline learners come with a social and cultural perspectives that should be acknowledged during the learning process. There are higher expectations towards the role of educators in the future. Most of which need higher emotional intelligence to manage properly the class. Moreover, it would help them address correctly any individual concern with a clear understanding on what that worries or inquiries are. Take the example of a tutor who would be teaching English to Japanese students. S/he need to have a sound cultural and socials awareness about the Japanese dos and don’ts. For example avoiding having eye contact as it is viewed as a rude behaviour. It is clear again that learners do not come as empty or blank papers to class, this is why it is important to regard the role other social factors may introduce in the learning and obviously teaching process. 

        Learning from Community:

There is what we call a collective knowledge that we tend to refuge to when we need more information about any topic. Again this is a natural process that we tend to favour when we are in need of advice or help to solve any issue. A WISE awarded Indian university showed high performance when applying the learning by doing approach outside the classroom. They called it University of Life. Classroom members had either science related or agricultural questions.  They had then to go to villages and ask shop keepers, or farmers for instance. The aim is to use villagers’ expertise, which won’t be found in the classroom, to solve some dilemmas


University of Life


International perspectives:

There is a Think Tank called Nabni, which literally means build up in Arabic, in Algeria. They have recently realised a report for 2020 stating that the reforms that educational reforms would preferably take place should be on making future talent employers that would meet 21st century skills. The same group that is made of entrepreneurs, scholars and politicians acknowledge the fact that education is a worksite that has no end.