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MirandaNet Fellowship Profiles (MirandaNet Archive - as of March 2015)

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James Abela


Twitter ID: @eslweb

Personal Statement | ICT Details | Recent Projects | Publications

Personal Statement

My first career was an as an online programmer, which meant I needed to be able to design Web pages and databases and I've been teaching for about six years now. I initially taught MBA Managing Information systems modules and English as a Foreign language in Malaysia for four years.  I then came back to the UK and I am head of IT and Economics at Finborough School.

My first research interest is in using computer games in education and games programming. I think there is a lot of potential for students to learn through both making and interacting with games, because they provide models that are otherwise difficult to make. This is especially true in Macro Economics where effects are difficult to see over a short time period.  I am currently running a study into using SimCity in Economics.  My second area of interest is in IT procurement policy in education and I have also been developing a framework for evaluating open source and free software against learning outcome differences. I recently presented this to an audience at BETT 2012. As well as these areas of active research, I am also interested in knowledge management,  contextualisation and higher order thinking skills.

ICT Interests

I am particularly interested in getting ICT teaching away from the repetitive drilling, which is far too common in IT classrooms and accessing higher order thinking skills. With tools such as video creation, interactive adventures and games programming, students can be encouraged not only to use IT competencies for ICT lessons, but also in subjects such as Creative Writing and Economics.  


Recent Projects

Contextualizing Economics through the use of computer simulations


To look at the pedagogy of Economics and how interactive computer simulations such as Open Railroad Tycoon, SimCity and custom made Scratch games might enhance learning.


Much of the teaching of Economics appears to be very much ‘chalk and talk’ and it appears to be difficult for students to grasp key economics ideas without suitable contextualization. If Economics could be made more interactive then it might be easier for students to apply the theories to new situations. I want to see if making the subject more interactive improves engagement, thinking skills and ultimately their grades.



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