Recently, I asked a friend and an educational consultant to give me feedback on the the Digital Game Based Learning ( DGBL) Management System I am developing and designing with a co-founder. His primary thoughts  and queries were based around the individual student’s learning journey and the interactions that would take place in the interactive arena with the wider learning community. What would progress and the ‘feedback for learning’ loop look like? Will the student be able to comprehend what learning capacity looks like and take learning cues from the the game based arena? This of course is why SONRISA™ Management system is being built; putting the student as the core of the experience with a support system that provides the scaffold, in an appealing and digitally enhanced environment.

For the last four years I have been waiting and watching for the gaming ‘bug’ to catch on in the classroom management systems. in 2010, at a school in Christchurch, New Zealand, I used MineraftEdu for homework projects and a few websites to engage the students with GBL. However, most of them involved the students getting on a pre-created game and ‘walking’ the journey that someone else had set up. Where is the fun in that? As a teacher I have directed students towards ‘fun’ games after journeying through the game myself. I wanted to know the pitfalls and also give them a heads-up for the challenges ahead, very much like they would face in life. Every time I came across a great domain, I would wish that this was something we could set up in the classroom, so

The first iteration of SONRISA in 2014- It was designed to put a smile on the face of students and teachers.

I could create my lessons around the game and allow the students to create their own narrative. Thus, began the search for the perfect game based learning platform;  ‘the one-stop-shop’ that would allow the teacher to plan and share the learning with the students and yet collect and analyse data in real time. Alas, it was to no avail so I decided to design my own concepts about a platform that would be appealing as well as functional (As you do!). I planned to call it ‘Schools’ Online Network of Resources for Instruction and Assessment’ (SONRISA).

The beauty of a game is, that it comes  with a built in assessment mode. With every level of progress, you achieve some skills and understanding of your own learning through the process of a playing the game. As a student you become a part of the narrative and your success and failures are owned by you. It is not someone pointing out your mistakes or ‘dressing up’ the truth for you. You give yourself the permission to be perfectly honest with yourself and search for information and skills to progress to the next level. However, the actual beauty of using DGBL in the classroom, is the wealth of transactional and incidental data that is generated ; a veritable goldmine for teachers to gather and analyse. This data when combined with other sources could tell a digitally insightful story about the learning and collaborative preferences of the student ( Epper et al, 2012). Can you imagine what institutions could do with this data to customise the learning journey of their students?

The “We are Teachers’ blog says that 57% of the teachers would love to use GBL but need more support and and easy to use resources. Not everyone is a programmer and a gamer but that is no longer a deterrent for the educator anymore. As the US and the UK educational fields introduce coding in the classroom through innovative methods, we can start getting ready to see a mushrooming of companies vying to get into the educational market.

What has pleasantly surprised the proponents of the GBL is that suddenly they are preaching to the converted. According to Van Eck (2006), the accelerated rate of research around the DGBL, the disengagement with traditional education and popularity of the games ( not to mention the 10 billion dollar gaming industry) has everyone sitting up and paying attention. There is an almost tangibly, anticipatory air about the platforms that will provide this kind of a learning capacity yet be appealing to the eye.fullsizeoutput_11f3

I think that ˜SONRISA™ has a ‘smile’ on. We have arrived! Even though I have not personally managed to get a platform up and running, the concept and the idea is out there and many of the big companies, like Google and Microsoft have started collaborating with developers to allow teachers to build richer learning experiences for students by providing platforms which balance skills, information and media rich content.



˜Sonrisa in Spanish means smile.

Epper, R.M., Derryberry, A. & Jackson, S. ( 2012). Game-Based Learning:Developing an Institutional Strategy. EDUCAUSE Research Bulletin. Retrieved from

Van Eck, R. (2006). Digital game-based learning: It’s not just the digital natives who are restless. EDUCAUSE review41(2), 16. Retrieved from