Research Staff Interests

Prof Nicola  Whitton


Nicola's background is multi-disciplinary: starting in business management and economics, moving into computing, and finally settling in education. In 2007 she completed a PhD in collaborative game-based learning, combining aspects of game design, interaction design and learning theory. She is passionate about enhancing and rethinking the ways in which teaching, learning and assessment are carried out, particularly in the context of Higher Education, in order to create more equitable and engaging experiences for students. She is particularly interested in the use of active and experiential models of learning and the role of play.

Research Interests

Computer games for learning, interaction design, multimedia learning, technology-enhanced learning, engagement and motivation, collaborative learning, pedagogic innovation in Higher Education.

Research Groups

The Centre for Research in Technology, Innovation and Play for Learning (TIPL)

Research Projects

Games-Based Learning for Older Adults
August 2011–July 2013, €20,000, funded by EU Lifelong Learning Programme

Making Games in Collaboration for Learning (MAGICAL)
January 2012–April 2014, €102,000, funded by EU Lifelong Learning Programme

Research Review of Programming Curricula and Pedagogy
October 2011–December 2011, £5,000, funded by the BBC

Supporting Responsive Curriculum
July 2008–June 2012, £400,000 total (responsibility for £30,000), funded by JISC

Research Review of Multimedia Revision Materials
April 2009, £9,000, funded by the BBC

Alternate Reality Games for Orientation, Socialisation and Induction (ARGOSI)
April 2008–March 2009, £102,000, funded by JISC

Models of Innovation in Learning Online (MILO)
August 2007–July 2008, £140,000, funded by Becta


Whitton, N. & Moseley, A. (eds) (2012) Using Games to Enhance Learning and Teaching: A Beginner's Guide. New York: Routledge order here

Whitton, N. (2009) Learning with Digital Games: A Practical Guide to Engaging Students in Higher Education. New York: Routledge order here

Refereed Journal Articles

Whitton, N. (2013) Games for Learning: creating a level playing field or stacking the deck? International Review of Qualitative Research 6(3) pp 424-439

Whitton, N. (2012) The Place of Game-based Learning in an Age of Austerity. EJEL: electronic journal of e-learning 10(2) pp 249-256

Whitton, N., Jones, R., Whitton, P. & Wilson, S. (2012) Alternate Reality Games as Learning Environments for Student Induction. Interactive Learning Environments iFirst

Whitton, N. & Hollins, P. (2011) From the Games Industry: ten lessons for game-based learning. International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments 2(2) pp 73-82

Whitton, N. (2011) Encouraging Engagement in Game-based Learning. International Journal of Game-Based Learning 1(1) pp 78-87

Whitton, N. (2011) Game Engagement Theory and Adult Learning. Simulation & Gaming 42(5) pp 597-610

Whitton, N. & Jones, R. (2009) Alternate Reality Gaming to Support Information Literacy. ALISS Quarterly 4(3)

Whitton, N. & Hollins, P. (2008) Collaborative Virtual Gaming Worlds in Higher Education. ALT-J 16(3) pp 221-229

Book Chapters

Smyth, K., Whitton, N. & Fotherington, J. (2012) Write-TEL (Writing for publication in technology-enhanced learning), in Engaging hearts and minds: engaging with academics in the use of technology-enhanced learning Oxford: UCISA

Whitton, N. (2011) Games-based learning, in Norbert M. Seel (ed) Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning New York: Springer

Whitton, N. & Whitton, P. (2011) The impact of visual design quality on game-based learning, in Khine, M. (ed) Learning to play: exploring the future of educational video games New York: Peter Lang

Whitton, N. (2011) Theories of motivation for adults learning with games, in Patrick Felicia (ed) Handbook of Research on Improving Learning and Motivation through Educational Games: Multidisciplinary Approaches Hershey, PA: IGI Global

Whitton, N. (2009) Learning and Teaching with Computer Games in Higher Education, in T. Connolly, M. Stansfield and L. Boyle (eds) Games-Based Learning Advancements for Multi-Sensory Human Computer Interfaces Hershey, PA: IGI Global

Whitton, N. (2008) Gaming and the Network Generation, in S. Wheeler (ed) Connected Minds, Emerging Cultures: Cybercultures in Online Learning Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing

Research Reports

Research Review of Multimedia Revision Materials (BBC)
Whitton, N. (2009) Review of the Research Literature on the Impact of Multimedia Revision Web Materials. London: BBC available online here

Alternate Reality Games for Orientation, Socialisation and Induction (JISC) Whitton, N. (2009) ARGOSI Final Report available online here

Lewin, C., Whitton, N., Cummings, J., Roberts, B., Saxon, D., Somekh, B. & Lockwood, B. (2008) MILO: Models of Innovative Learning Online at Key Stage 3 and 14-19 Final Report. available online here


link to eSpace publications

Journal & Book Series Editorships & Editorial Board Membership

On the editorial board for:
The International Journal of Game-Based Learning
Interactive Learning Environments

Keynote Addresses or Prestigious Public Lectures

'Is there really a place for fun and games in adult learning?' Game To Learn 2, University of Abertay and Dundee College, Dundee, 18 March 2011

'Games and Simulations for Learning in Higher Education.' Annual Congress, Universidad Europea Miguel de Cervantes, Madrid. 17 September 2008

'Games, Technology and Learning.' De Montfort University Annual Learning and Teaching Symposium. 16 May 2008

Evidence of Impact on Policy and Professional Practice

Trustee of the Association of Learning Technology (2008-2011)

Chair of the ALT Games and Learning Special Interest Group

International Recognition

Appointed member of the ESRC Peer Review College.

Research-based Contributions to Practitioner and Academic Conferences

Moseley, A. & Whitton, N. (2011) Workshop presented at ALT-C 2011: 'Thriving in a colder and more challenging climate.' Leeds, 6–8 September

Forsyth, R. & Whitton, N. (2011) 'A model of responsiveness in curriculum design.' Workshop presented at the Higher Education Academy Annual Conference, Nottingham, 5–6 July

Whitton, N. & Ulicsak, M. (2011) 'How not to create effective educational games.' Workshop presented at CAL 2011: Learning futures – Education, Technology & Sustainability, Manchester, 13–15 April 2011

Whitton, N. & Hollins, P. (2011) 'The future of game-based learning: overcoming the challenges.' Paper presented at CAL 2011: Learning futures – Education, Technology & Sustainability, Manchester, 13–15 April 2011

Moseley, A., Culver, J. & Whitton, N. (2010) 'Back three spaces and roll again.' Workshop presented at ALT-C 2010: Into something rich and strange – making sense of the sea change, Nottingham

Hollins, P. & Whitton, N. (2010) 'Ten things educators might learn from the games industry.' Presented at Game Based Learning, London

Culver, J., Moseley, A., White, D. & Whitton, N. (2009) 'More questions than answers: exploring the real educational benefits of immersive game environments.' Presented at ALT-C 2009: In dreams begins responsibility – choice, evidence and change, Manchester,

Whitton, N., Jones, R. Whitton, P. & Wilson, S. (2008) 'Alternate reality games for inclusive induction.' Presented at ALT-C 2008: Rethinking the digital divide, Leeds

Whitton, N. & Lewin, C. (2008) 'Models of innovation in online learning.' Presented at British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Edinburgh

Conference Papers

Whitton, N. (2011) 'Digital games in an age of austerity.' in D. Gouscos and M. Meimaris (eds) Proceedings of the 5th European Conference on Game-Based Learning Athens

Forsyth, R., Whitton, N. & Whitton, P. (2011)' Accreditation! The responsive curriculum game.' in D. Gouscos and M. Meimaris (eds) Proceedings of the 5th European Conference on Game-Based Learning Athens

Whitton, N., Pannese, L. & Barratt, N. (2011) 'Designing learning games for multiple stakeholders.' presented at the Future of Education Conference, Florence

Facer, K. & Whitton, N. (2010) 'Grey Gamers: A Research Agenda for the Future.' in B Meyer Proceedings of the 4th European Conference on Games-Based Learning Copenhagen

Moseley, A., Whitton, N., Culver, J. & Piatt, K. (2009) 'Motivation in Alternate Reality Gaming Environments and Implications for Education.' in Proceedings of the 3nd European Conference on Game-Based Learning Graz

Whitton, N., Wilson, S., Jones, R. & Whitton, P. (2008) 'Innovative induction with Alternate Reality Games.' in Proceedings of the 2nd European Conference on Game-Based Learning

Whitton, N. (2008) 'Using theories of gaming engagement to examine adult engagement with learning.' in Proceedings of gaming 2008: designing for engaging experience and social interaction Amsterdam

Peer-reviewed Conference Proceedings

Reviewer for the European Conference on E-Learning (since 2004), the European Conference on Game-Based Learning (since 2007), ALT-J, Australasian Journal of Education Technology, Learning, Media and Technology.


What is the role of fun in learning? Seminar presented at Oxford University, OUCS (23 November, 2010)

Assessment and game-based learning. Presented as part of the Transforming Assessment webinar series, University of Adelaide (27 October, 2010)

Challenges for game-based learning. Presented at Computers And Learning Research Group Conference. Open University, Milton Keynes (25 May, 2009)

Using games to enhance teaching and learning. Presented at Manchester Metropolitan University Teaching and Learning Conference, Manchester (4 June, 2009)

The potential of alternate reality games for enhancing teaching and learning (with Rosie Jones). Presented at Next Generation Technologies in Practice. Loughborough (10-11 March, 2009)

Alternate reality games to support retention and motivation. Presented at JISC Conference 2009 – Opening digital doors. Edinburgh (23 March, 2009)

Team game: ViolaQuest. (with Rosie Jones) Presented at ThoughtFest 09, Salford (5–6 March, 2009)

Teaching Interests

Technology-enhanced learning
Game-based learning
Research methods

Taught Courses

Masters of Research: Education and Society

Areas of Post-graduate Supervision

Games and learning
Pedagogic innovation in Higher Education
Technology-enhanced learning

Postgraduate Students Supervised

Director of studies:
Duncan Silcock
Ann Winter

Second supervisor:
Jane Woods
Paul Hollins (University of Bolton)


Position/Post: Professor of Professional Learning
Responsibilities: Leader of TIPL research group
Programme Leader for Masters in Research
Tel: 0161-247-2282
Location: Brooks 1.06
Skype: nickie66
Twitter: @nicwhitton