Noreen Dunnett (PhD student)

Thesis title: Re-imagining disengagement from learning: the sociomaterial practices of classrooms and digital game spaces.


I live in Sheffield and am doing my PhD as a distance learner, on a part-time basis.  In 2012 I gained an MSc in Digital Education from the University of Edinburgh and was so inspired by this experience I decided to continue my studies here and also to repeat the experience of distance learning!

In my spare time I am a keen cyclist, enjoying both road and mountain biking and I also run on a regular basis.  I also enjoy travel and hiking  in the south-west of the USA.

Professional/teaching experience

My teaching career spans 26 years, from 1984 - 2010, starting in secondary schools and progressing to a seventeen-year career in tertiary education and one year as an associate lecturer at Bishop Grosseteste University. I have experience of leading a successful academic department which was part of a Grade 1 OFSTED inspection in 2004. I pioneered the use of e-learning and ICT in the classroom in my subject areas of English and Communication Studies and was responsible for curricular development for two completely new 'A' Level examination specifications. I worked as an advisor to a national awarding body and ran a website and social network for teachers of 'A' Level Communication and Culture.

From 2011 - 2013 I was involved in the running of the Games Britannia Schools Videogame Festival, judging of the associated national games design competition and the organisation of educational workshops on coding and game design for primary and secondary pupils.

My current role is online tutor on the MSc in Digital Education, specifically on the 'Introduction to Digital Environmentn for Learning' and 'Introduction to Digital Game-Based Learning' modules and Visiting tutor at Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln where I contribute to the Education in the Digital Era and Education Contexts modules.   Formerly I worked as an e-learning consultant for Civica which involved working with a range of primary and secondary schools in the South Yorkshire area, supporting and advising teachers in the use of technology in the classroom and in particular, designing and using their customised, in-school virtual learning environments. I also worked as an online learning advisor at the University of Sheffield from July 2008 to April 2009, using similar skills, albeit with university lecturers.


PDF icon 58962.pdf


M.A Communication Studies

MSc in Digital Education (Distinction)

Postgraduate teaching

Online tutor on MSc in Digital Education - two modules:

  • Introduction to Digital Environments for Learning
  • Introduction to Digital Game-Based Learning

Research summary

My research interests include game-based learning, the uses of Twitter and networked learning environments and the use of technology in the classroom.

Research activity

Using a narrative ethnographic approach, I will investigate  informal and social learning in videogame culture and its implications for engagement in formal learning.  My research will investigate:

1.       how knowledge is constructed by disengaged learners within the informal youth cultural context of a digital gaming ecology.

2.       how membership of this cultural context and its associated social networks contribute to cognitive engagement

3.       whether the motivation and cognitive engagement of disengaged students is disproportionately affected by the very different culture encountered in school compared to other students


Affiliated research centres

Dunnett, N (2013) The Twittersphere – the new VLE? ‘Advancing Education’, [online].

Dunnett, N (2013) The Tweeting Zone. In: University of Lancaster conference: Twitter and Microblogging: Political, Professional and Personal Practices in April 2013. Available at: