Author Archive

GAMILearning – Jogos Digitais para a Literacia Mediática e Informacional


The Games for Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Learning project (GAMILearning) is funded by FCT and aims to develop the critical and participative dimensions of media literacy of tweens, through the gamification of the learning experience


Working with cohorts of youth aged 9 to 12 in Portugal and Austin, Texas, GAMILearning (UTAP-ICDT/IVC-ESCT/0020/2014) builds on field-tested research to address the need for student awareness and skill in managing their digital identities with game play and production.  In the process, the project explores the way that the game analysis and production supports a wide range of media literacy and learning skills.

There is a generalized consensus that “promoting and enhancing media literacy, for child and adult populations, is of growing importance, in a context of digital media convergence and a highly complex media and information ecology” (Livingstone, Bulguer, & Zaborowski, 2013, p. 4; Hobbs, 2008, p. 431). In Portugal, media literacy and education policies are available; schools already have computers with internet access, a Guideline for Media Education in Pre-school, Elementary and Secondary School was recently launched by Direção Geral da Educação (DGE). Nonetheless, there is a general consensus about the lack of teachers’ training and content in formal education (Costa, Jorge, & Pereira, 2013).  Furthermore, several initiatives in promoting media literacy are already in place but they lack user-based design and outcome measurement.

According to EU Kids online II report, when children begin to use the internet, the first things they do are schoolwork and playing games alone or against the computer (100%) and they continue to “play games” as they embrace other leisure activities (Livingstone, Haddon, Görzig, Ólafsson, & al., 2011).

Games have been used in teaching for quite a while and their learning potentials have been discussed extensively (Gee 2007, 2010). They can be integrated in teaching in several ways, such as using commercial titles, developing games with specific learning goals or leading the students to create their own games (Van Eck, 2006). The latter has traditionally been practiced as a way of teaching programming and problem-solving skills (Ibid.). In addition to these approaches, the GAMILearning project deals with games as reflexive tools that children can use for establishing and developing their own critical understanding of media. First of all, critical media literacy requires the development of reflexive knowledge: a child needs to know a topic very well to be able to produce a related game. Secondly, in the process of game creation, children engage in collaboration and peer-learning, which has been shown to support critical literacy and learning across the curriculum (Salen & Zimmerman, 2004; Torres, 2009).  Third, game design and content creation also provides children with opportunities to integrate and reflect on their everyday media experience. Moreover, the GAMILearning project creates reciprocal links between critical analysis of game design and content with the technical skills and knowledge need for the production of games.

One of the strengths of GAMILearning consortium lies in an international team of researchers (ULHT, UAveiro and UT-Austin) and a partner from Industry (PTC-SAPO) that already has in place a social network (SAPO Campus) with nearly 100 Portuguese schools. SAPO campus is a secure and private social network where each school could configure the degree of communication and sharing with other schools. Since SAPO Campus is not mandatory (it’s not an institutional platform) one can expect motivation and creativity from its members as well diversity in practitioners’ pedagogical approaches.

Capitalizing on the above opportunities and strengths, the researchers will focus on advancing the methodologies to create and measure an innovative approach to the usage of digital games in classroom. Indeed, a substantial part of the project deals with research and creation of such methodologies and tools that will enable the usage of a digital gamification system in a classroom ecosystem, by teachers and children.

A key challenge of the GAMILearning project is to go beyond deploying games to be played in the classroom: indeed, we will create conditions that allow teachers and students to construct their own games, as they perform other learning activities.  The Consortium brings significant experience with games-based education that will ensure the achievement of the GAMILearning objectives. Furthermore, through comparing critical media literacy development of participants in GAMILearning with non-participants of similar age, demographic and media access profiles, this project will assess the separate but related impacts of game design, pedagogy and peer community experiences on MIL development in the learning process.


Team and partners

Conceição Costa (Principal Investigator)
ECATI, Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias
José Rogado (COPELABS)
ECATI, Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias
Sara Henriques
ECATI, Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias
Kathleen Tyner
University of Austin-Texas
Carlos Santos
Universidade de Aveiro
João Batista
Universidade de Aveiro
Luis Pedro
Universidade de Aveiro
Pedro Figueira Torres

ECFOLI – Eco for Life

ECFOLI is a Media Education and Information literacy project in the Mediterranean region. Youth and adults from Cyprus, Palestine, Marocco, Portugal and France will foster conflict resolution strategies through the lens of common cultural heritage.


ECFOLI is a Media Education and Information literacy project, developing between April 2015 and February 2017, which aims to empower youth in conflict local situations to be active citizens, responsible media consumers and media content creators in a participatory society. ECFOLI also aims to promote peace by implementing MIL through the lens of cultural heritage.

Other objectives of ECFOLI are: the creation of different and interacting media products which illustrate and bring alive common cultural heritages; the building of long-lasting friendship and true dialogue between communities; the fostering of conflict resolution strategies by taking ownership of their common culture heritage, brought alive in today’s digital world.

Team and partners

Katherine Kotsireas, Orestis Tringides, Nathalie Konyalian
Cyprus Community Media Centre
Bérangère Blondeau
Children & Youth Film Festival of Cyprus
Osman Elkovan
Cyprus International University
Divina Frau-Meigs
Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, France
Khadija Ramram
Citizenship Forum, Morocco
Bader Alhudhud
Partners for Sustainable Development, Palestine
Ana Cunha
Lusófona University, Portugal
Conceição Costa
Lusófona University, Portugal
José Rogado
Lusófona University, Portugal
Sara Henriques
Lusófona University, Portugal
Tiago Loureiro
Lusófona University, Portugal
Carla Sousa
Lusófona University
Project Website

Delivering Repeated Health Messages through Digital Media to Increase Physical Activity in Dialysis Patients

This project builds on past research on redundant communication and tests how these principles work in physical activity messages delivered to dialysis patients in the US and Portugal.


This project builds on past research on redundant communication and tests how these principles work in physical activity messages delivered to dialysis patients in the US and Portugal.

We will use existing digital media materials from the Portugal team as the content for this intervention. To create the parallel content to deliver to the US audience, we will translate the Portugal digital materials into English and create videos. We will also create paper brochures for the English-speaking and Portuguese-speaking patients that contain similar content to the videos. After delivering repeated messages through digital media and paper brochures, we will assess the impact on health outcomes including increases in physical activity.

Principal Investigators:

  • Keri K. Stephens, PhD – Department of Communication Studies, UT Austin
  • Manuel José Damásio, PhD – School of Communication, Arts and Information Technologies, Lusophone University of Humanities and Technologies

Team Members:

  • Yaguang Zhu, doctoral student – Department of Communication Studies, UT Austin

Project Website soon

Improving Prenatal Health Communication: Engaging Men via e-Health

The purpose of this project is to develop an e-health intervention that could be used to engage men in issues around prenatal health.


Improving Prenatal Health Communication: Engaging Men via e-Health builds on pilot work conducted by members of this team, and it will involve:

  1. building a new e-health intervention specifically for men,
  2. evaluating the intervention qualitatively with a local U.S. sample and quantitatively with a nationally representative U.S. sample,
  3. evaluating the intervention in Portugal to enable cross-cultural comparisons of its utility. The entire team will be involved in the development and evaluation of the intervention, as well as efforts to disseminate findings.

Principal Investigators

Michael Mackert, PhD
Department of Advertising, UT Austin; The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health
Manuel José Damásio, PhD
School of Communication, Arts and Information Technologies, Lusophone University of Humanities and Technologies

Team members

Erin Donovan, PhD
Department of Communication Studies, UT Austin
Alex Garcia, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, UT Austin
Aaron Rochlen, PhD
Department of Educational Psychology, UT Austin
Marie Guadagno, doctoral student
Department of Advertising, UT Austin
Allison Lazard, doctoral student
Department of Advertising, UT Austin
Amanda Mabry, doctoral student
Department of Advertising, UT Austin

Project Website soon

KINOEYES – The European Movie Masters

KEM is an original study programme that seeks to promote new teaching and learning opportunities for learners and teachers in the areas of fiction film making and creativity studies. This two year MA programme is a brand-new highly intensive fiction film making masters degree supported by ERASMUS+.


The programme takes the form of four semesters’ teaching, along with a summer school. The teaching is unique for a film making MA in that it is split between three different film schools in three different European states: Lusófona University in Lisbon, Portugal, Screen Academy Scotland in Edinburgh/ Napier University, UK, and the Baltic Film and Media School in Tallinn, Estonia. The teaching in each campus reflects the strengths of the staff and educational history of each school, so providing each specialist student with a choice of the best possible options for learning. Each school has a substantial track record teaching masters film-making courses.

Also unique is the programme’s focus on the feature film as the object of study and aspiration, rather than the short film, as in most other courses.

Students will be recruited in the following areas: Directing, screenwriting, producing, cinematography, editing and sound. Around half the teaching will be geared to each specialism, while the rest will consist of transferable skills in film making, creative practice, entrepreneurship and critical thinking – skills that are essential for all film students.

Students will form collaborative teams and work towards a funded graduation project. These final thesis films will be expected to perform at first-tier international film festivals. Teaching on the programme will be supplemented by a comprehensive course of professional practice preparation, involving industry professionals from all over Europe, including production and craft specialists, distributors, festival programmers, financiers, lawyers and casting directors.

Project Website