New Insights

In this section I will add new insights to the variety of roles that adult educators play and the opportunities for more Gamification in education.

Young, Jeffrey R. (2010). 5 lessons professors can learn from video games. The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Young asserts that video games are “a good model of teaching” (Young, p. 1) for young adults as they can happily play for hours and can learn and develop skills in the process (used World of Warcraft as an example).

  • Problem solving / critical thinking
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Creativity


There are 3 levels of video games as an educational model:

  1. Level 1: Edutainment Years
    • Educational video games we played as kids (e.g. Oregon Trail or Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?)
    • While students played these games for hours, we often cannot recall what it is we learned from them as kids
  1. Level 2: Serious Games
  • Scholars designing their own video games about serious topics and issues (e.g. Darfur is Dying or Global Conflict: Palestine)
  • Problem: many of these games are not fun so students don’t want to play them (would rather learn through another method)
  1. Level 3: Smart Gaming (what Young considers to be the most appropriate model)
  • One important aspect: recognizing that games are often NOT the best tools in an educational setting but when they are, they should “carefully balance substance and sport” (Young, p. 1)
  • Can develop your own games or use pre-existing games as a teaching tool (e.g. Age of Empires, World of Warcraft)


Young outlines 5 lessons learned from researchers about education and gaming:

  1. Give frequent and detailed feedback
  2. Gamers like to see their stats through achievements (break down their assessment)
  3. Test before going live
  4. Make sure the logistics work
  5. Make sure the game is not too hard (or too easy)
  6. Update and make changes along the way
  7. Use narrative to answer the question “why are we learning this?”
  8. Stories are powerful ways to engage people and help them remember and WOW’s immersive storyline is what grabs player’s attention
  9. Don’t be afraid of fun
  10. Challenge the assumption that “learning is supposed to be dry and tedious and painful and awful” (Young, p. 3)
  11. Not every subject works as a game
  12. Blindly throwing games out is not a good solution (takes preparation, testing and a lot of hard work)
  13. Even with the positive results gaming can offer, they are much more difficult to use as instructional tools

Martin, Vance. S. (2011). Andragogy, organization, and implementation concerns for gaming as an instructional tool in the community college. New Directions for Community Colleges, No. 154, p63-71.


Martin’s article examines the potential for using video games at the community college level, possible arguments against it, and necessary support from administration, information technology departments, and libraries to make the most of this digital technology.


Stat: 99% of boys and 94% of girls aged 12-17 play video games (these are the people entering college over the next few years) (Martin, p. 63)


Teachers and administrators have various concerns about integrating games into instruction:

  1. Negative preconceived notions against video games (particularly from older instructors who do not regularly game)
  2. Time constraints for planning
  3. Money as games can be costly and the concern of who pays (school, teacher, student)
  4. Bandwidth for online gaming
  5. Security (viruses, personal info, etc.)


Argument for Video Games:

  1. “Active learning through video games fills a hold in the traditional passive educational model” (Martin, p. 64)
  2. Based on the seminal work of James Gee (2003) who integrates the constructivist theory into his model of gaming and education
  3. Allows for scaffolding: games allow people to begin slowly at a lower level then as they go through the game, they become more experiences and become experts. As the player progresses, they can tinker with the game (mods) and become a community leader (Martin, p. 64)
  4. Flexible and can be incorporated into teaching through various ways
  5. Will only be successful through collaboration (administration, the library, chairs, teachers, IT department)
  6. Studies show higher engagement from students when gaming is done right (Vance, 69)
  7. Can be used for in-class, online and hybrid learning


“The community college is best poised among educational institutions for integration of games” (Martin, p. 69) because there is more freedom for teaching than in primary and secondary schools (which have strict curriculum and standardized tests) and smaller bureaucracies and more autonomy than larger state universities (in the US model)


Further Resources


“80Days—Around an Inspiring Virtual Learning World in Eighty Days.” (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2009, from


Begg, M., Dewhurst, D., and Macleod, H. “Game-Informed Learning: Applying Computer Game Processes to Higher Education. Innovate: Journal of Online Education,2005, 1(6). Retrieved October 1, 2010, from


Bixler, B. “Twenty Billion Reasons to Build an Educational Gaming Initiative in Higher Education.” Paper presented at the Games+Learning+Society 6.0 in Madison,Wisconsin, 2010.


Entertainment Software Association. (n.d.). “Industry Facts.” Retrieved October 1, 2010, from


Gee, J. P. What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.


Gillispie, L., Sheehy, P., and Lawson, C. “Learning with the Lich King: Education in World of Warcraft.” Paper presented at the Games+Learning+Society 6.0 in Madison, Wisconsin, 2010.


Halverson, R., Bauman, E., Wolfenstein, M., Millar, S., and Patterson, N. “Progression: Advancing the Development and Adoption of Games for Learning.” Paper presented at the Games+Learning+Society 6.0 in Madison, Wisconsin, 2010.


Lenhart, A., Kahne, J., Middaugh, E., Macgill, A.R., Evans, C., and Vitak, J. “Teens, Video Games, and Civics.” Pew Internet and American Life Project. 2008. Retrieved September 29, 2008, from


Martin, V. S. “Online Video Games in an Online History Class.” Paper presented at the Second IEEE International Conference on Digital Game and Intelligent Toy Enhanced Learning DIGITEL in Banff, Alberta, Canada, 2008.


Shafer, D. W. Epistemic Games. Innovate: Journal of Online Ed, 2005, 1(6). Retrieved October 1, 2010, from


Squire, K. Video Games and Education. Unpublished manuscript, Madison, Wisc., 2010.


Travis, R. and Young, M. “Operation KTHMA—Reign of the Demiurge: Game Worlds, Greek History, the Classics, and Situated Learning.” Paper presented at the Games+Learning+Society 6.0 in Madison, Wisconsin, 2010.

One thought on “New Insights

  1. Pingback: Personal Learning Networks for Educators: 10 Tips | Peter's Adult Education Journey

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