Hugh O’Donnell

Alumni testimonial

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Hugh O’Donnell

My experience on the course

I would not be where I am without having studied at Edinburgh.

Having successfully completed my Masters Dissertation under the supervision of Dr Hamish Macleod, I undertook several months distilling my digital games-based learning for publication in ‘Press Start’ ( It was published on the 10th December 2015, and later featured in the Times Education Supplement on 15th January 2016 (Hepburn, H 2016, ' It’s virtually child’s play to improve literacy, says study ', The Times Education Suppplement (TESS) 15th January 2016, p. 12).On the 21st April 2016, I received the General Teaching Council of Scotland’s (GTCS) Professional Recognition Award in ‘E-Literacy’ for my research into digital games based learning as an approach to literacy and interdisciplinary learning within the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence.  After a rigorous cycle of international peer review (which included an editorial colloquium drawn from universities in the U.S., Australia, Finland, Belgium and U.K.)

What I'm doing now

I am a Science teacher at Dunoon Grammar School, in the west of Scotland.  Based on the successes of my work on digital games, I am working with the Principal Teacher of Science to design a formally timetabled series of lessons utilizing the Mars Colony Challenger (MCC) software to teach the ‘Three States of Matter’ and develop Literacy. Additional aims include researching: • the distribution of science content across pupils’s spoken and written language and look for correlations between attainment and collaborative gameplay; • the distribution and efficacy of science content from Science textbooks in pupils’ spoken and written language; • pronoun use in relation to Science content retention and attainment in writing; • verb and pronoun use, attainment in writing, and digital games-based learning; • collocation and Language for Specific Purposes (LSP) correlation to retention and attainment. Mars Colony Challenger (MCC) is a 3D first-person video game, developed by Hyperkat Games in the USA, offering players the challenge of setting up a remote base on the surface of Mars. At its core, the game was derived from a simulator where everything is fully integrated: the developer took a scientific approach in order to develop an authentic experience drawing upon accurate principles and technologies. In teams of a maximum of four, pupils attempted to establish a breathable atmosphere using Mars’ natural resources, learning the underlying Science and maintaining journals of fictional and non-fiction reflections through their experiences as a team interacting online. I am hoping to secure funding that will allow me to conduct further research under an Educational Doctorate Programme, allowing my pupils to benefit from innovative forms of teaching and learning.


O’Donnell, H. (2015). Games-Based Learning as an Interdisciplinary Approach to Literacy across Curriculum for Excellence. PRESS START, 2/2.