Professor Sara de Freitas

BT Professor and Director of DigiTech

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Research Directorate
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Sara is Director of the Digital Futures Institute. Working with colleagues, the Institute will develop focus areas such as digital education, environment, ICT, health and security. As BT Professor and Director of the DigiTech Centre, Sara is looking to deepen the University’s partnerships and programmes with BT and the ICT cluster of 155 companies based at Adastral Park.

With her Doctoral research in Data Science, Sara’s work has always been cross-disciplinary, initially focusing on understanding how institutions work with respect to digital processes and systems. This set up an interest in understanding natural human computer interfaces and game-based reward and feedback systems, which she explored in her work at the London Knowledge Lab (University of London, now UCL) and the Serious Games Institute (Coventry University). There, Sara was generously supported by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), European Commission and a range of regional and national funders, addressing research questions around efficacy, natural interfaces, and accelerated learning.

The work was often applied and impactful centring upon systemic improvements through policy and strategy, sectoral development through clusters (ICT and Manufacturing), innovations in education, health and wellbeing and regional growth.

In addition to completing 81 research, development, and knowledge transfer projects, over the period, Sara has developed virtual software applications and demonstrators and three platforms and was fortunate to be a Scientific Coordinator of a large EC-funded network of excellence. Through firsts in field in the new field of serious games and with a deep engagement with digital education, Sara’s models and frameworks, papers, books, case studies and applications led to significant impact regionally, nationally, and internationally.

This work placed Sara well to move into executive roles in the UK and Australia where she was able to apply the lessons learnt from research with significant benefits for students, executives, and Boards, as well as other stakeholders. Through applying the models and approaches developed, Sara was able to become adept at adapting organizations, systems, and processes to digitization with clear improvements and outcomes. In the recent period, as an AIM-company listed Director, Sara has developed end-to-end systems working with local authorities, a network of universities and contributing to government consultations. Sara holds fellowships with the Royal Society of Arts, Business Excellence Institute, and the Higher Education Academy.


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Over the period from 2001-today, Sara's research contribution has been broad in subject matter, discipline perspective and sectoral impact. Working as a researcher, teacher and Director of Research, Sara has been focusing upon methods, case studies, approaches and frameworks that push forward our understanding about how we learn, how we can accelerate learning, new models for feedback and reward, systems and data models that can drive and predict behaviours and game theories that can guide our understanding about how best to design learning environments for optimal outcomes including enhanced student engagement, performance, retention and continuation.

Sara is known for her contribution to a range of fields including education, health, environment, manufacturing and ICT. The Digital Futures Institute is her third research lab, at the London Knowledge Lab she was exploring the future of digital technologies in education and at the Serious Games Institute she explored games technologies in a range of different sectors. At the Digital Futures Institute, Sara is leading projects that seek to understand the future of digital technology at its broadest reach.

As a data scientist, Sara is considered with the systemic and process challenges confronting institutions and organizations. her work is compiled in: 111 conference and journal peer-reviewed articles, 40 books, including 8 books, 6 books in the book series with Routledge, and 26 chapters. 106 Strategic, technical, review and policy documentation. The work has led to over $50M in infrastructure investment into teaching and learning facilities and over £50M in research and development funding from a wide range of funding organizations including the UK Engineering and Physical Science Research Council and UKRI (InnovateUK), as well as 19 European Commission projects. 

Sara has completed 81 Research and Development projects, developed 20 games and 3 platforms, as well as developing 24 case studies. She is working on three books at present: Freedom and Information: A History; The Education Charter and The Quiet Revolution. 

Published work includes: 58 peer-reviewed journal articles, 52 conference papers, 26 book chapters, 1 PhD Thesis, 8 books, 5 books in Routledge Book Series & 103 Technical, Policy & Strategy reports. For list of books and articles in Google Scholar see: this link. For list of published books on Amazon see: this link. Hirsch Index: 53. Citations: 13,677 (03/08/2022).

Journal Articles (from 2001-present)

de Freitas, S., Uren, V., Kiili, K., Ninaus, M., Petridis, P., Lameras, P., Dunwell, I., Arnab, S., Jarvis, S. and Star, K., 2023. Efficacy of the 4F Feedback Model: A Game-Based Assessment in University Education. Information, 14(2), p.99.

Hristova, D., Jovicic, S., Göbl, B., de Freitas, S., & Slunecko, T. (2022). “Why did we lose our snapchat streak?”. Social media gamification and metacommunication. Computers in Human Behaviour Reports, 5, 100172.

de Freitas, S., Waring, P., Douglas, H. E., Curtis, G. J., & Ritchie, S. M. (2021). Delivering blended learning to transnational students: students’ perceptions and needs-satisfaction. Studies in Higher Education, 1-13.

Lameras, P., Arnab, S., de Freitas, S., Petridis, P. (2021) Science teachers’ experiences of inquiry-based learning through a serious game: A phenomenographic perspective. Smart Learning Environments 8, 7 (2021).

Allen, P. J., de Freitas, S., Marriott, R. J., Pereira, R. M., Williams, C., Cunningham, C. J., & Fletcher, D. (2021). Evaluating the Effectiveness of Supplemental Instruction Using a Multivariable Analytic Approach. Learning and Instruction, 75, [101481].

de Freitas, S. (2018) Are games effective learning tools? A review of educational games. Journal of Educational Technology & Society (April), 21, 2. Link. City University of New York e-prints. Citations: 270

Gutiérrez, I., Álvarez, V., Paule, M., Pérez-Pérez, J. R., & de Freitas, S. (2016). Adaptation in E-Learning Content Specifications with Dynamic Sharable Objects. Systems, 4, 24.

Al Lily, A., Foland, J., Stoloff, D., Gogus, A., Erguvan, I., Awshar, M., Tondeur, J., Hammond, M., Venter, I., Jerry, P., Vlachopoulos, D., Oni, A., Liu, Y., Badosek, R., López de la Madrid, M., Mazzoni, E., Lee, H., Kinley, K., Kalz, M., Sambuu, U., Bushnaq, T., Pinkwart, N., Adedokun-Shittu, N., Zander, P., Oliver, K., Pombo, L., Sali, J., Gregory, S., Tobgay, S., Joy, M., Elen, J., Jwaifell, M., Said, M., Al-Saggaf, Y., Naaji, A., White, J., Jordan, K., Gerstein, J., Yapici, İ., Sanga, C., Nleya, P., Sbihi, B., Lucas, M., Mbarika, V., Reiners, T., Schön, S., Sujo-Montes, L., Santally, M., Häkkinen, P., Al Saif, A., Gegenfurtner, A., Schatz, S., Vigil, V., Tannahill, C., Partida, S., Zhang, Z., Charalambous, K., Moreira, A., Coto, M., Laxman, K., Farley, H., Gumbo, M., Simsek, A., Ramganesh, E., Birzina, R., Player-Koro, C., Dumbraveanu, R., Ziphorah, M., Mohamudally, N., Thomas, S., Romero, M., Nirmala, M., Cifuentes, L., Osaily, R., Omoogun, A., Seferoglu, S., Elçi, A., Edyburn, D., Moudgalya, K., Ebner, M., Bottino , R., Khoo, E., Pedro, L., Buarki, H., Román-Odio, C., Qureshi, I., Khan, M., Thornthwaite, C., Kerimkulova, S., Downes, T., Malmi, L., Bardakci, S., Itmazi, J., Rogers, J., Rughooputh, S., Akour, M., Henderson, J., de Freitas, S. & Schrader, P. (2016). Academic domains as political battlegrounds: A global enquiry by 99 academics in the fields of education and technology. Information Development. Accessed early online at:

Gibson, D., & de Freitas, S. (2016). Exploratory analysis in learning analytics. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 21(1), 5-19.

Baalsrud-Hauge, J. M., Stanescu, I. A., Arnab, S., Ger, P. M., Lim, T., Serrano-Laguna, A., Lameras, P., Hendrix, M., Kiili, K., Ninaus, M., de Freitas, S., Mazzetti, A., Dahlbom, A. & Degano, C. (2015). Learning through analytics architecture to scaffold learning experience through technology-based methods. International Journal of Serious Games, 2, 29-44.

Bernhaupt, R., Isbister, K., & de Freitas, S. (2015). Introduction to this Special Issue on HCI and Games. Human–Computer Interaction, 30, 195-201.

Georgieva, G., Arnab, S., Romero, M., & de Freitas, S. (2015). Transposing freemium business model from casual games to serious games. Entertainment Computing, 9, 29-41.

de Freitas, S. I., Morgan, J. & Gibson, D. (2015), Will MOOCs transform learning and teaching in higher education? Engagement and course retention in online learning provision. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46, 455-471. Link. Curtin University e-prints. Citations: 416

Denholm, J., Dunwell, I., & de Freitas, S. (2015). The Development and Assessment of a Team-Based Management Game. In Gamification in Education and Business (pp. 355-383). Springer International Publishing.

de Freitas, S., Gibson, D., Du Plessis, C., Halloran, P., Williams, E., Ambrose, M., Dunwell, I. & Arnab, S. (2015). Foundations of dynamic learning analytics: Using university student data to increase retention. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46, 1175–1188.

Kiili, K., Lainema, T., de Freitas, S., & Arnab, S. (2014). Flow framework for analyzing the quality of educational games. Entertainment Computing, 5(4), 367-377.

de Freitas, S., Mayer, I., Arnab, S., & Marshall, I. (2014). Industrial and academic collaboration: hybrid models for research and innovation diffusion. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 36(1), 2-14.

de Freitas, S. & Ketelhut, D. J. (2014). Preface: Introduction for the Journal of Information Sciences special issue on serious games. Information Sciences: an International Journal, 264, 1-3.

Haniff, D., Chamberlain, A., Moody, L., & de Freitas, S. (2014). Virtual environments for mental health issues: A review. Journal of Metabolomics and Systems Biology, 3(1), 1-10.

Ninaus, M., Kober, S. E., Friedrich, E. V., Dunwell, I., de Freitas, S., Arnab, S., Ott, M., Kravcik, M., Lim, T., Louchart, S., Bellotti, F., Hannemann, A., Thin, A. G., Berta, R., Wood, G., Neuper, C. & Bellotti, F. (2014). Neurophysiological methods for monitoring brain activity in serious games and virtual environments: a review. International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, 6(1), 78-103.

Arnab, S., Lim, T., Carvalho, M. B., Bellotti, F., de Freitas, S., Louchart, S., & De Gloria, A. (2015). Mapping learning and game mechanics for serious games analysis. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46(2), 391-411. Link. Murdoch University e-prints. Citations: 750

Petridis, P., Dunwell, I., Liarokapis, F., Constantinou, G., Arnab, S., de Freitas, S., & Hendrix, M. (2013). The Herbert virtual museum. Journal of Electrical and Computer Engineering, 16.

Arnab, S., Brown, K., Clarke, S., Dunwell, I., Lim, T., Suttie, N. & de Freitas, S. (2013). The Development Approach of a Pedagogically-Driven Serious Game to support Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) within a classroom setting. Computers & Education, 69: 15-30.

de Freitas, S. (2013). Towards a new learning: Play and game-based approaches to education. International Journal of Game-Based Learning (IJGBL), 3(4), 1-6.

de Freitas, S., & Routledge, H. (2013). Designing leadership and soft skills in educational games: The e‐leadership and soft skills educational games design model (ELESS). British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(6), 951-968.

Hendrix, M., Dunwell, I., Lameras, P., Arnab, S., Petridis, P., Stewart, C., de Freitas, S., Backlund, P. & Liarokapis, F. (2013). Serious Games and E-Learning-Learning Standards: Towards an Integrated Experience. Journal of Advanced Distributed Learning Technology, 1(1), pp-9.

Schmeil, A., Eppler, M. & de Freitas, S. (2012) A structured approach for designing collaboration experiences for virtual worlds. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 13, pp. 836-860.

Arnab, S., Berta, R., Earp, J., de Freitas, S., Popescu, M., Romero, M., & Usart, M. (2012). Framing the Adoption of Serious Games in Formal Education. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 10(2), 159-171.

Scarle, S., Arnab, S., Dunwell, I., Petridis, P., Protopsaltis, A., & de Freitas, S. (2012). E-commerce transactions in a virtual environment: virtual transactions. Electronic Commerce Research, 12(3), 379-407.

Paolucci, M., Kossman, D., Conte, R., Lukowicz, P., Argyrakis, P., Blandford, A., Bonelli, G., Anderson, S., de Freitas, S., Edmonds, B., Gilbert, N., Gross, M., Kohlhammer, J., Koumoutsakos, P., Krause, A., Lemke, F., Linner, B-O., Slusallek, P., Sorkine, O., Sumner, R. W. & Helbing, D. (2012). Towards a living earth simulator. European Physical Journal-Special Topics, 214(1), 77.

Buckingham Shum, S., Aberer, K., Schmidt, K., Bishop, S., Lukowicz, P., Anderson, S., Charalabidis, Y., Domingue, J., de Freitas, S., Dunwell, I., Edmonds, B., Grey, F., Haklay, M., Jelasity, M., Karpištšenko, A., Kohlhammer, J., Lewis, J., Pitt, J., Sumner, R. & Helbing, D. (2012). Towards a global participatory platform: democratising open data, complexity science and collective intelligence. European Physical Journal Special Topics, 214(1), 109-152.

Petridis, P., Dunwell, I., Panzoli, D., Arnab, S., Protopsaltis, A., Hendrix, M., & de Freitas, S. (2012). Game engines selection framework for high-fidelity serious applications. International Journal of Interactive Worlds, 2012, 1.

de Freitas, S. (2011). Massive: the Hunt for the God Particle (Summer Books). Nature. 475: 33.

Arnab, S., Petridis, P., Dunwell, I., & de Freitas, S. (2011). Enhancing learning in distributed virtual worlds through touch: a browser-based architecture for haptic interaction. In Serious Games and Edutainment Applications (pp. 149-167). Springer London.

Arnab, S., Petridis, P., Dunwell, I., & de Freitas, S. (2011). Tactile interaction in an ancient world on a web browser. International Journal of Computer Information Systems and Industrial Management Applications (IJCISIM).

de Freitas, S. (2011). Technology: Game for change. Nature, 470, 330-331.

Panzoli, D., Peters, C., Dunwell, I., Sanchez, S., Petridis, P., Protopsaltis, A., & de Freitas, S. (2010). A level of interaction framework for exploratory learning with characters in virtual environments. In Intelligent Computer Graphics 2010 (pp. 123-143). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Protopsaltis, A., Pannese, L., Hetzner, S., Pappa, D., & de Freitas, S. (2010). Creative learning with serious games. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, 53, 4-6.

Anderson, E.F., McLoughlin, L., Liarokapis, F., Peters, C., Petridis, P., & de Freitas, S. (2010). Developing serious games for cultural heritage: A state-of-the-art review. Virtual Reality, 14, 255-275. Link. Bournemouth University e-prints. Citations: 359

Panzoli, D., de Freitas, S., Duthen, Y., & Luga, H. (2010). The cortexionist architecture: behavioural intelligence of artificial creatures. The Visual Computer, 26, 353-366.

Knight, J., Carly, S., Tregunna, B., Jarvis, S., Smithies, R., de Freitas, S., Mackway-Jones, K., & Dunwell, I. (2010). Serious gaming technology in major incident triage training:  A pragmatic controlled trial. Resuscitation Journal, 81, 1174-9. Link. Academia eprints. Citations: 298

de Freitas, S., & Veletsianos, G., (2010). Editorial: Crossing boundaries: Learning and teaching in virtual worlds. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41, 3-9.

de Freitas, S., Rebolledo-Mendez, G., Liarokapis, F. Magoulas, G., & Poulovassilis A. (2010). Learning as immersive experiences: using the four dimensional framework for designing and evaluating immersive learning experiences in a virtual world. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41, 69-85. Link. Penn State University e-prints. Citations: 455

Liarokapis, F., Macan, L., Malone, G., Rebolledo-Mendez, G., & de Freitas, S. (2009). Multimodal augmented reality tangible gaming, Journal of Visual Computer, 25, 1109-1120.

de Freitas, S., & Neumann, T. (2009). Pedagogic strategies supporting the use of synchronous audiographic conferencing: a review of the literature. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40, 980-998.

de Freitas, S., & Neumann, T. (2009). The use of ‘exploratory learning’ for supporting immersive learning in virtual environments. Computers and Education, 52, 343-352. Link. University College London e-prints. Citations: 501

de Freitas, S., & Griffiths, M. (2008). The convergence of gaming practices with other media forms: what potential for learning? A review of the literature. Learning, Media and Technology, 33(1), 11-20.

Griffiths, M. D., & de Freitas, S. (2007). Online gaming and synthetic worlds as a medium for classroom learning. Education and Health, 25(4), 74-75.

de Freitas, S., Oliver, M., Mee, A., & Mayes, T. (2008). The practitioner perspective on the modelling of pedagogy and practice. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 24(1), 26-38.

de Freitas, S., & Jarvis, S. (2007). Serious games – engaging training solutions: A research and development project for supporting training needs. British Journal of Educational Technology, 38, 523-525.

de Freitas, S., & Griffiths, M. (2007). Online gaming as an educational tool in learning and training. British Journal of Educational Technology, 38, 535-537.

de Freitas, S., Harrison, I., Magoulas, G., Mee, A., Mohamad, F., Oliver, M., Papamarkos, G. & Poulovassilis, A. (2006). The development of a system for supporting the lifelong learner. British Journal of Educational Technology, 37, 867-880.

Jameson, J., Davies, S., & de Freitas, S. (2006). Collaborative innovation in the JISC distributed e-learning programme. British Journal of Educational Technology, 37, 969-972.

de Freitas, S., & Jameson, J. (2006) Editorial: Collaborative e-support for lifelong learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 37, 817-824.

de Freitas, S. (2007). Post-16 e-learning content production: a synthesis of the literature. British Journal of Educational Technology, 38, 349-364.

de Freitas, S. (2006). Using games and simulations for supporting learning. Learning, Media and Technology, 31(4), 343-358. Link. Citations: 464

de Freitas, S., & Oliver, M. (2006). How can exploratory learning with games and simulations within the curriculum be most effectively evaluated? Computers and Education, 46, 249-264. . Link. Birkbeck College, University of London e-prints. Citations: 1,076

de Freitas, S., & Oliver, M. (2005). Does e-learning policy drive change in higher education? Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 27(1), 81-95. Link. Birkbeck e-prints.

de Freitas, S., & Roberts, G. (2004). Does distance e-learning work? A comparison between distance and face-to-face learners using e-learning materials. Association of Learning Technology Journal. Vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 69-87. Cardiff. University of Wales Press.

de Freitas, S. (2001). Towards the global library: A new cultural history of the British library. JAVNOST-THE PUBLIC, 8(4), 120-121.

Conference Papers (from 2004-present)

Ninaus, M., de Freitas, S., & Kiili, K. (2020, December). Motivational potential of leaderboards in a team-based math game competition. In International Conference on Games and Learning Alliance (pp. 242-252). Springer, Cham.

Williams, C. J., de Freitas, S., Alvarez, V., & Dziurawiec, S. (2017). Big data and best retention: Longitudinal and nation-wide analyses of student-departure predictors. Paper presented at the Teaching and Learning Forum 2017, Perth, Western Australia.

de Freitas, S., Gibson, D., Alvarez, V., Irving, L., Star, K., Charleer, S. & Verbert, K. (2017). How to Use Gamified Dashboards and Learning Analytics for Providing Immediate Student Feedback and Performance Tracking in Higher Education. In Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on World Wide Web Companion (WWW '17 Companion). International World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee, Republic and Canton of Geneva, Switzerland, 429-434.

Alvarez, V., Bower, M., de Freitas, S., Gregory, S., & de Wit, B. (2016, October). The Use of Wearable Technologies in Australian Universities: Examples from Environmental Science, Cognitive and Brain Sciences and Teacher Training. In Proceedings of the 15th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning (mLearn 2016), Sydney (pp. 25-32).

Phipps, L., Alvarez, V., de Freitas, S., Wong, K., Baker, M., & Pettit, J. (2016, October). Conserv-AR: A virtual and augmented reality mobile game to enhance students’ awareness of wildlife conservation in Western Australia. In Proceedings of the 15th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning (mLearn 2016), Sydney (pp. 214-217).

Alvarez, V., Pérez-Pérez, J. R., Paule-Ruiz, P., & de Freitas, S. (2016, October). Ariane: A Web-Based and Mobile Tool to Guide the Design of Augmented Reality Learning Activities. In Proceedings of the 15th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning (mLearn 2016), Sydney (pp. 33-37).

Boughzala, I., Michel, H., & de Freitas, S. (2015, January). Introduction to the serious games, gamification, and innovation minitrack. In System Sciences (HICSS), 2015 48th Hawaii International Conference on (pp. 625-625). IEEE.

Gibson, D. & de Freitas, S. (2014) Exploratory learning analytics methods from three case studies. In: 31st Annual Conference of the Australian Society for Computers in Tertiary Education, ASCILITE 2014, 23 - 26 November, Dunedin; New Zealand pp. 383-388.

Arnab, S., Ger, P. M., Lim, T., Lameras, P., Hendrix, M., Kiili, K., Hauge, J.B, Ninaus, M, de Freitas, S., Mazzetti, A., Dahlbom, A., Degano, C., Stanescu, I. & Riveiro, M. (2014, July). A Conceptual Model Towards the Scaffolding of Learning Experience. In International Conference on Games and Learning Alliance (pp. 83-96). Springer International Publishing.

Rensing, C., de Freitas, S., Ley, T. (2014) Open Learning and Teaching in Educational Communities. Proceedings of the 9th European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning, EC-TEL 2014, Graz, Austria, September 16-19, 2014.

Dunwell, I., de Freitas, S., Petridis, P., Hendrix, M., Arnab, S., Lameras, P., & Stewart, C. (2014, April). A game-based learning approach to road safety: the Code of Everand. In Proceedings of the 32nd annual ACM conference on Human factors in computing systems (pp. 3389-3398). ACM.

42.     Camilleri, V., de Freitas, S., Montebello, M., & McDonagh-Smith, P. (2013, April). A case study inside virtual worlds: Use of analytics for immersive spaces. In Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (pp. 230-234). ACM.

Dunwell, I., Petridis, P., Arnab, S., Protopsaltis, A., Hendrix, M., & de Freitas, S. (2011, November). Blended game-based learning environments: extending a serious game into a learning content management system. In Intelligent Networking and Collaborative Systems (INCoS), 2011 Third International Conference On (pp. 830-835). IEEE.

Hendrix, M., Protopsaltis, A., Rolland, C., Dunwell, I., de Freitas, S., Arnab, S. & LLanas, J. (2012, January). Defining a metadata schema for serious games as learning objects. In eLmL 2012, The Fourth International Conference on Mobile, Hybrid, and On-line Learning (pp. 14-19).

Yu, H., Lim, T., Ritchie, J., Sung, R., Louchart, S., Stănescu, I. A., Roceanu, I. & de Freitas, S. (2012). Exploring the Application of Computer Game Theory to Automated Assembly. Procedia Computer Science, 15, 266-273.

de Freitas, S., Kiili, K., Ney, M., Ott, M., Popescu, M., Romero, M., & Stanescu, I. (2012). GEL: Exploring Game Enhanced Learning. Procedia Computer Science, 15, 289-292.

Kiili, K., de Freitas, S., Arnab, S., & Lainema, T. (2012). The Design Principles for Flow Experience in Educational Games. Procedia Computer Science, 15, 78-91. Link. Science Direct e-prints. Citations: 287

Hendrix, M., Knutov, E., Auneau, L., Protopsaltis, A., Arnab, S., Dunwell, I., ... & de Freitas, S. (2012, September). Authoring of adaptive serious games. In Proceedings of the 7th European conference on Technology Enhanced Learning (pp. 541-541). Springer-Verlag.

Denholm, J., Protopsaltis, A., & de Freitas, S. (2012, October). The Value of Team-Based Mixed-Reality (TBMR) Games in Higher Education. In European Conference on Games Based Learning (p. 571). Academic Conferences International Limited.

Jimenez, C. O. S., Mesa, H. G. A., Rebolledo-Mendez, G., & de Freitas, S. (2011, November). Classification of cognitive states of attention and relaxation using supervised learning algorithms. In Games Innovation Conference (IGIC), 2011 IEEE International (pp. 31-34). IEEE.

Bellotti F., Berta R., De Gloria A., Arnab S., de Freitas S., Kiili K. and Ott M. (2011)  “Designing Serious Games for Education: From Pedagogical Principles to Game Mechanisms”, European Conference on Game-Based Learning (ECGBL 2011), Athens, October 2011. Link. Archives Couvertes. Citations: 101

Popescu M., Arnab S., Berta R., Earp J., de Freitas S., Romero M., Stanescu I., & Usart M.  (2011) Serious Games in Formal Education: Discussing Some Critical Aspects. In: ECGBL 2011 - The 5th European Conference on Games Based Learning (The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, 20-21 October 2011). Proceedings, pp. 486 - 493. Dimitris Gouscos, Michalis Meimaris (eds.). Academic Publishing Limited

Hendrix, M., Protopsaltis, A., Dunwell, I., de Freitas, S., Petridis, P., S Arnab, S., Taibi, D., Mitsopoulou, E., Dietze, S., Spachos, D., Bamidis, P., Drovolis, N. & Kaldoudi, E. (2012). Technical Evaluation of The mEducator 3.0 Linked Data-based Environment for Sharing Medical Educational Resources. World Wide Web 2012 (www2012), April 16-20, Lyon, France. 

Sosa Jimenez, C.O., Acosta Mesa, H. G., Rebolledo-Mendez, G., de Freitas, S. (2011) “Classification of cognitive states of attention and relaxation using supervised learning algorithms” In Tsuwai, G.Y. (Ed.) 2011 IEEE International Games Innovation Conference (IGIC), Orange, CA.

Protopsaltis, A., Laurent, L, Dunwell, I., de Freitas, S., Petridis, P., Arnab, S., Scarle, S., Hendrix, M. (2011) Scenario-based Serious Games Repurposing, ACM SIGDOC 2011

Arnab S., Popescu, M., Berta R., de Freitas S., Earp J., Romero M., Usart M., Stanescu I. (2011) Serious Games in Education: Linking Pedagogy and Game Design, 5th European Conference on Games Based Learning, 2011

Arnab S., SGI, Bellotti F., de Freitas S., Kiili K., Ott M., De Gloria A. (2011). Serious Games in Formal Education: Discussing some Critical Aspects, 5th European Conference on Games Based Learning, 2011

Petridis, P., Dunwell, I., Arnab, S., de Freitas, S. (2011) Building Social Communities around Alternate Reality Games, IEEE 3rd International Conference in Games and Virtual Worlds for Serious Applications (VS GAMES10), Athens, Greece, 4-6th May.

Petridis, P., Goh, O.,Dunwell, I., Wortley, D., de Freitas, S. (2010) iSpace- Smart Monitoring of Higher and Further Institutions in UK, Sixth International Conference on Intelligent Environments (IE 10),19-21 July, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ISBN: 978-0-7695-4149-5/10.

Arnab, S., Petridis, P., Dunwell, I., de Freitas, S. (2010) Touching artefacts in an ancient world on a browser-based platform, IADIS International Conference: Web Virtual Reality and Three-Dimensional Worlds 2010, Freiburg, Germany, 27 - 29 July 2010

Protopsaltis, A. Panzoli, D., Dunwell, I. & de Freitas, S. (2010). Repurposing Serious Games in Health Care Education, XII Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing, (MEDICON 2010), Chalkidiki, Greece, May 27-30, Springer, Heidelberg, IFMBE Proceedings, 29, pp. 963-966, ISBN: 978-3-642-13038-0.

Dunwell, I., Petridis, P., Protopsaltis, A., de Freitas, S., Panzoli, D. & Samuels, P. Automating Content Generation for Large-Scale Virtual Learning Environments using Semantic Web Services. In proceedings of the 5th International Workshop on Semantic Wikis (SemWiki2010), ESWC2010, Hersonissos, Crete, Greece, May 29th -June 3rd 2010

Panzoli, D., Qureshi, A., Dunwell, I., Petridis, P., de Freitas, S., & Rebolledo-Mendez, G. (2010, June). Levels of interaction (loi): a model for scaffolding learner engagement in an immersive environment. In International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems (pp. 393-395). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Panzoli, D., Peters, C. Dunwell, I., Sanchez, S., Petridis, P., Protopsaltis, A., Scesa, V. & de Freitas, S. (2010). Levels of Interaction: A User-Guided Experience in Large-Scale Virtual Environments, IEEE 2nd International Conference in Games and Virtual Worlds for Serious Applications (VS GAMES10), Braga, Portugal, March 26-27, IEEE, pp. 87-90, ISBN: 978-0-7695-3986-7.

Petridis, P., Dunwell, I., de Freitas, S. & Panzoli, D. An Engine Selection Framework for High Fidelity Serious Games. (2010) The 2nd International Conference on Games and Virtual Worlds for-Serious-Applications (VSgames’10). 25-26 March 2010. Braga, Portugal.

Rebolledo-Mendez, G., de Freitas S., Rojano-Caceres, R. & Garcia-Gaona, A.R. (2010). An empirical examination of the relation between attention and motivation in computer-based education: a modelling approach, Proceedings of the 23rd Florida Artificial Intelligence Research Association, AAAI, Daytona Beach, Florida, USA, 29-23 May.

Rebolledo-Mendez, G., Avramides, K., de Freitas, S. & Memarzia, K. (2009). Societal impact of a Serious Game on raising public awareness: the case of FloodSim, in Proceedings of the 2009 ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Video Games. New Orleans, Louisiana, pp. 15-22. Link. Murdoch e-prints. Citations: 128

Peters, C., Castellano, G. & de Freitas, S. (2009) An Exploration of User Engagement in HCI. Proceedings of the Affective-Aware Virtual Agents and Social Robots (AFFINE) Workshop, International Conference on Multimodal Interfaces (ICMI'09), ACM Press, Cambridge M.A. Link. Uppsala University e-prints. Citations: 135

Peters, C., Dunwell, I., de Freitas, S., Panzoli, D., Graf, B., Tscheligi, M., Burden, D., Duthen, Y. & Bonnell, B. (2009) VIOLA: Concept of a New Cognitive Framework to Enhance the Capabilities of Interactive Service Robots using Virtual Worlds, Presented at Beyond Gray Droids workshop: Domestic Robot Design for the 21st Century, Cambridge, UK, September.

Anderson, E.F., McLoughlin, L., Liarokapis, F., Peters, C., Petridis, P. & de Freitas, S. (2009). Serious Games in Cultural Heritage, 10th VAST International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (VAST '09), VAST-STAR, Short and Project Proceedings, Eurographics, Malta, 22-25 September, 29-48.

Liarokapis, F., Macan, L., Malone, G., Rebolledo-Mendez, G. & de Freitas, S. (2009). A Pervasive Augmented Reality Serious Game, Proc. of the 1st IEEE International Conference in Games and Virtual Worlds for Serious Applications, IEEE Computer Society, Coventry, UK, 23-24 March, 148-155, ISBN: 978-0-7695-3588-3.

Jarvis, S. & de Freitas, S. (2009). Evaluation of an Immersive Learning Programme to support Triage Training. Proc. of the 1st IEEE International Conference in Games and Virtual Worlds for Serious Applications, IEEE Computer Society, Coventry, UK, 23-24 March, 117-122, ISBN: 978-0-7695-3588-3.

Rebolledo-Mendez, G., Dunwell, I., Martνnez-Mirσn, E.A., Vargas-Cerdαn, M.D., de Freitas, S., Liarokapis, F. & Garcia-Gaona, A.R., (2009). Assessing the Usability of a Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) that Detects Attention Levels in an Assessment Exercise, Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, Springer Lecture Notes In Computer Science, San Diego, California, USA, 19-24 July. Link. Springer e-prints. Citations: 221

de Freitas, S., Rebolledo-Mendez, G., Liarokapis, F., Magoulas, G. & Poulovassilis, A. (2009) Developing an evaluation methodology for immersive learning experiences in a virtual world. In Rebolledo-Mendez, G., Liarokapis, F., de Freitas, S. (Eds) Proceedings of 2009 Conference in Games and Virtual Worlds for Serious Applications, IEEE pp 43-50.

Chen, Y. F., Rebolledo-Mendez, G., Liarokapis, F., de Freitas, S. & Parker, E. (2008). The use of virtual world platforms for supporting an emergency response training exercise. In Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Computer Games: AI, Animation, Mobile, Interactive Multimedia, Educational & Serious Games

Rebolledo-Mendez, G., Burden, D. & de Freitas, S. (2008). A Model of Motivation for Virtual-Worlds Avatars. In H. Prendinger, J. Lester, and M. Ishizuka (Eds.): IVA 2008, LNAI 5208, pp. 535–536. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

Rebolledo-Mendez, G. & de Freitas, S. (2008) Attention modeling using inputs from a Brain Computer Interface and user-generated data in Second Life. In Proc. of the Workshop of Affective Interaction in Natural Environments (AFFINE) 2008. In association with ACM Tenth International Conference on Multimodal Interfaces (ICMI), Crete, Greece.

de Freitas, S. & Smith, R. (2007). Introduction to Innovating e-learning Practice. Innovating e-Learning Practice. G. Minshull and J. Mole (Eds) Proceedings of Theme 3 of the JISC Online Conference: Innovating e-Learning 2006: 13-16. See:

de Freitas, S., & Jarvis, S. (2006, January). A framework for developing serious games to meet learner needs. In The Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation & Education Conference (I/ITSEC) (Vol. 2006, No. 1). National Training Systems Association.

de Freitas, S., Magoulas, G., Oliver, M., Papamarkos, G., Poulovassilis, A., Harrison, I., & Mee, A. (2006, October). L4all-a web-service based system for lifelong learners. In Proceedings of eChallenges (Vol. 2006, pp. 1477-1484).

de Freitas, S., Magoulas, G., Oliver, M., Papamarkos, G., Poulovassilis, A. Harrison, I. & Mee, A. (2006) L4All system. Presented at the Lifelong learning for all: e-learning from concept to practice conference, held at the Brunei Gallery at School of Oriental and African Studies in London on 5th June 2006.

de Freitas, S. & Oliver, M. (2005).  A four dimensional framework for the evaluation and assessment of educational games. Paper accepted for Computer Assisted Learning Conference 2005.

de Freitas, S. & Levene, M. (2004). An Investigation of the use of simulations and video gaming for supporting exploratory learning and developing higher-order cognitive skills. IADIS International Conference in Cognition and Exploratory Learning in the Digital Age. 15-17 December, 2004. Lisbon. Portugal.

Book Chapters (from 2005-present)

Liarokapis, F., Petridis, P., Andrews, D. & de Freitas, S. (2017) ‘Multimodal Serious Games Technologies for Cultural Heritage in Mixed Reality and Gamification for Cultural Heritage’ (edited by M. Ioannides, N. Magnenat-Thalmann, G. Papagiannakis) p. 371-394. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

Schmeil, A., Eppler, M. J., & de Freitas, S. (2012). A Framework for the Design of Avatar-Based Collaboration. In Engaging the Avatar: New Frontiers in Immersive Education, 15.

de Freitas, S., Earp, J., Ott, M., Kiili, K., Ney, M., Popescu, M., Romero, M., Usart, M. & Stanescu, I. (2012). Hot Issues in Game Enhanced Learning: The GEL Viewpoint. Procedia Computer Science, 15, 25-31.

Hendrix, M., Protopsaltis, A., Dunwell, I., Petridis, P., Arnab, S. & de Freitas, S. (2012) Repurposing, Integrating, and Rating Serious Games as Learning Objects in Technological and Social Environments for Interactive Learning. Informing Science Press, Santa Rosa, CA, USA.

Pappa, D., Dunwell, I., Protopsaltis, A., Pannese, L., Hetzner, S., de Freitas, S., & Rebolledo-Mendez, G. (2011). Game-based learning for knowledge sharing and transfer: the e-VITA approach for intergenerational learning. Handbook of research on improving learning and motivation through educational games: Multidisciplinary approaches, 1.

de Freitas, S., Dunwell, I., & Rebolledo-Mendez, G. (2011) Learning as Immersive Experience: Learning and Teaching Practices in Virtual Worlds. In A. Cheney & R. L. Saunders (Eds) Teaching and Learning in 3D Immersive Worlds: Pedagogical Models and Constructivist Approaches. IGI Global

de Freitas, S. & Liarokapis, F. (2011) Serious Games: A New Paradigm for Education? In Serious Games and Edutainment Applications, Ma, M., Oikonomou, A. & Jain, L.C. (eds.), 9-23, Springer: UK.

de Freitas, S. & Dunwell, I. (2011) Understanding the representational dimension of learning: The implications of interactivity, immersion and fidelity on the development of serious games. In C. Yiyu (ed.) Interactive and Digital Media for Education in Virtual Learning Environments. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Dunwell, I., de Freitas, S., Jarvis, S. (2011) Four-dimensional consideration of feedback in serious games. In Digital Games and Learning, de Freitas, S. and Maharg, P., Eds., Continuum Publishing: 42-62. Link. ResearchGate link. Bloomsbury link. Citations: 81

de Freitas, S. & Maharg, P. (2011), Introduction: Digital games and learning. In Digital Games and Learning. London & New York. Continuum Press.

Staalduinen, J. P. v. & de Freitas, S. (2011). A game-based learning framework: Linking game design and learning outcomes. In: Learning to Play: Exploring the Future of Education with Video Games. M. S. Khyne (Ed.). New York, Peter Lang: 29-54.

de Freitas, S. & Conole, G. (2010) The influence of pervasive and integrative tools on learners’ experiences and expectations of study. In R. Sharpe, H. Beetham & S. de Freitas (Eds), Rethinking learning in the Digital Age, London & New York: Routledge.

Sharpe, R., Beetham, H., de Freitas, S. & Conole, G. (2010) An introduction to rethinking learning. In Rethinking learning in the Digital Age, London & New York: Routledge. Link. Citations: 227

Liarokapis, F. & de Freitas, S. (2009) A Case Study of Augmented Reality Serious Games. In Looking Towards the Future of Technology Enhanced Education: Ubiquitous Learning and the Digital Native, Ebner, M., Schiefner, M. (eds), In Press.

de Freitas, S. & Griffiths, M. D. (2009) Massively multiplayer online role-play games to support learning and training communities. In R. Ferdig (Ed.) Handbook of Research on effective electronic gaming in education. Idea Group Publishing.

de Freitas, S. & Jarvis, S. (2009) Towards a development approach for serious games. In T.M. Connolly, M. Stansfield, & E. Boyle (Eds) Games-based learning advancements for multi-sensory human-computer interfaces: Techniques and effective practices. IGI Global. Hershey, PA

Mayes, T. & de Freitas, S. (2007) Learning and e-Learning: The role of theory. In H. Beetham & R. Sharpe (eds) Rethinking pedagogy in the digital age. London. Routledge. Link. Academia e-print. Citations: 266

de Freitas, S. (2007) Dystopia and the City: Representations of London in Cinema. In S. Barber (ed.) London Eye. New York and London. Berghahn.

Dyke, M., Conole, G., Ravenscroft, A. & de Freitas, S. (2007). Learning theories and technologies. In G. Conole & M. Oliver (eds). Contemporary Perspectives in E-learning Research: Themes, methods and impact on practice. Routledge Open and Distance Learning series. London. Routledge, pp. 82-97. Link. Citations: 89

Keenoy, K., Levene, M. & de Freitas, S. (2006). Personalised Trails. J. Schoonenboom (Ed). Trails in education: technologies that support navigational learning. Rotterdam. The Netherlands. Sense Publishers.

de Freitas, S., Dickinson, C. & Yapp, C. (2005) Personalizing learning: Is there a shared vision? in S. de Freitas & C. Yapp (eds) Personalizing Learning in the 21st Century. Stafford. Network Educational Press: 109-112.

de Freitas, S. & Yapp, C. (2005) Introduction to the Contributions – Personalization: Is there a consensus? in S. de Freitas & C. Yapp (eds) Personalizing Learning in the 21st Century. Stafford. Network Educational Press: xi-xiii.

de Freitas, S., & Levene, M. (2005). Spamming. In the Encyclopaedia of Human Computer Interaction. In Ghaoui, C. (Ed.). (2005). Encyclopedia of human computer interaction. Hershey, Pennsylvania (USA). IGI Global.

de Freitas, S., & Levene, M. (2005). Wearable and mobile devices for informal learning. In Ghaoui, C. (Ed.). (2005). Encyclopedia of human computer interaction. Hershey, Pennsylvania (USA). IGI Global.

de Freitas, S. (2005) The paradox of choice and personalization in S. de Freitas & C. Yapp (eds) Personalizing Learning in the 21st Century. Stafford. Network Educational Press: 13-16.

PhD Thesis

de Freitas, S. (2001). Towards the global library. A cultural history of the British Library, 1972-2000. PhD Thesis. Brighton. University of Sussex. Supervised by Professor Roger Silverstone (Former chair of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science).

Monographs and Edited Books

Rensing, C., de Freitas, S., Ley, T., & Muñoz-Merino, P. J. (Eds.). (2014). Open Learning and Teaching in Educational Communities: 9th European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning, EC-TEL 2014, Graz, Austria, September 16-19, 2014, Proceedings (Vol. 8719). Springer. Link: Springer.

de Freitas, S. (2014) Education in Computer Generated Environments. Research in Education book series. London & New York: Routledge. Downloadable at: Foreword by Sir Anthony Francis Seldon. 1 further title is under contract and due for completion in 2023: (co-authored with Robert McFarlane) Freedom and Information: A History, London & New York: Routledge.Link: Routledge.

de Freitas, S., Ott, M., Popescu, M. & Stanescu, I. (Eds) (2012) New Pedagogical Approaches in Game Enhanced Learning: Curriculum Integration, Hersey, PA, IGI Global. Link: IGI Global

Ferdig, R. & de Freitas, S. (Eds) (2012) Interdisciplinary Advancements in Gaming, Simulations and Virtual Environments: Emerging Trends, Hersey, PA, IGI Global.Link: IGI Global

de Freitas, S. & Jameson, J. (2012) e-Learning Reader, London & New York: Continuum Press (now Bloomsbury Press). Foreword by Professor Etienne Wenger. Link: Bloomsbury.

Sharpe, R., Beetham, H. & de Freitas, S. (Eds) (2010) Rethinking learning in the Digital Age, London & New York: Routledge. Link: Routledge.

de Freitas, S. & Maharg, P. (Eds) (2011) Digital Games and Learning. London & New York. Continuum Press. Foreword by Professor Henry Jenkins. Link: Bloomsbury.

de Freitas, S. & Yapp, C. (Eds) (2005) Personalizing Learning in the 21st Century. Stafford. Network Educational Press. Foreword by Sir Tim Brighouse. Link: Bloomsbury.


Book Series Titles

Titles are published in Routledge ‘Digital Games, Simulations and Learning’ Series. Co-editors Sara de Freitas and Paul Maharg. See:

Southgate, E. (2020). Virtual reality in curriculum and pedagogy: Evidence from secondary classrooms. London & New York: Routledge.

Arnab, S. (2020) Game Science in Hybrid Learning Spaces. London & New York: Routledge.

Beavis, C., Dezuanni, M. & O’Mara, J. (2017). Serious Play: Literacy, Learning and Digital Games. London & New York: Routledge.

Whitton, N. (2014). Digital games and learning: Research and theory. London & New York: Routledge.

Warmelink, H. (2014). Online gaming and playful organization. London & New York: Routledge.

Dickey, M. D. (2015). Aesthetics and Design for Game-based Learning. London & New York: Routledge.

Over the period, Sara has worked with thousands of companies, led clusters and held scientific coordination of a European Network of Excellence (5.6M Euros) with 31 partners. She is well known for her industrial-academic models including the Innovation Diffusion Model which diffuses innovation through networks and applied research.

Sara has been involved with regional development programmes including applied research leadership at Coventry University, support for establishment of new universities and in support of university executive management in her role as Governor at Sunderland University. By promoting new technologies around the world, she has become an expert in applied research models, digital technologies and modelling practices. Her expertise has led to industry consultancies. She has also been an AIM-Listed Director of a plc company in the UK. As well as driving regeneration programmes, she has advised on online education having run the largest UK school with pure online teaching. Her work with government departments includes developing online standards for a Middle Eastern country, advising on online school standards in the UK and contributing to policy and practice in the area of research and teaching in the UK and Australia.

Sara has a large online community that follow her work on higher education policy and practice, models and frameworks and applied research and publications. Her LinkedIn community includes over 27,000 connections, largely from higher education, school education, information scientists and the general public. With her focus on digital processes, systems and approaches, her work can be adapted to all sectors and involves close interworking with a wide range of disciplines.


Sara has had a long career in public speaking and international engagement. She has delivered presentations all around the world to over thirty countries. She is a regular speaker on the circuit, and supports a wider community around digital literacy, skills and technology issues. She regularly supports Doctoral external supervisions and maintains her networks through outreach and interactions.

Sara is known internationally for her models and frameworks including: the SAPPO model, four dimensional framework, the exploratory learning model, flow framework, game-based learning framework, seven lever framework (unpublished), LEAR model and the engagement and skills Framework.


Over time, Sara has become linked to a range of professional bodies. She is a member of the Royal Society of Arts, the Business Excellence Institute and is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education. She has worked closely with a range of charities and government agencies, and was a Research Fellow at the Centre for Distance Education and the Learning and Skills Research Centre. As a fellow of the University of London and a visiting professor at the University of South Wales, Sara has focused upon digitial transformation and inclusion. She is a keen mentor and business coach focusing on creative problem solving and implementing digital solutions to the benefit of under-represented groups and is an advocate of widening participation.