The Adult Education Approach to Gamification

The Adult Education Approach to Gamification

By Harry Jacobs

Based on the work of Mario Herger [1]and Mauritz Johnson’s Curriculum Instructional Model [2]


As I continue with my adult education I find it amazing the parallels between Adult Education and the concepts of Gamification. 

Relationalship Model Gamification

In the above link, I have taken Johnsons Curriculum Relationship Model, and have mapped Mario Herger’s design centric frame work for Gamification.  What this suggests is that how we deliver Gamification is not unique, but born out of adult education.  Gamification is really just a mechanism that is designed to engage and motivate participants to a desired state.   When you think about the facilitation of adult education adult educators are playing a similar role, we are engaging and motivating participants to achieve success in learning a new skill or subject, so we are moving learners from one state to another.

One of the aspects of this model I like personally in the middle layer is the notion of value.  Posner and Rudnitsky (2006) state that value is “an ideal state of affairs towards which one or more persons has a high effective regard, for example, equality of educational opportunity.”  [3]One of the questions missed in some of the Gamification frameworks that exist is the notion of value.  What is the perception of the value of the ideal state you are moving towards not only from a participant’s point of view, but from a organizational leadership point of view.  Not only should we define who are users are, what the goal Gamification is working towards, but also a clear statement on the value of adding some sort of Gamification.  If nobody perceives there is value in the activity, then the change may turn out to be an object failure. 

The model that is shown above shows three distinct layers, the first layer asks the questions, of why, what and how. On the left you can see how this maps to Herger’s  frame work.  The second layer is the actual design and delivery of the content, the mechanics of Gamification, while not explicated stated I added that this is iterative. The content and delivery must be continually   be evaluated in order to fine tune and continue to deliver relevant experiences to the participants.

Lastly the third layer allows for evaluation of what we are doing, in order to definitively state that we succeeded we have to determine what KPIs we are going to measure.  The model breaks this down into three processes; evaluating the main effect of Gamification, this basically answers the questions of did we accomplish what we set up to do?  Secondly, where there an side effects to what we put into place, these could be unintended results that were not planned upon in the initial planning of the activity. Lastly evidence of the Gamification results, a clear evaluation plan is needed, as the evaluation plan should be used to evaluate are initial assumptions set at the beginning of the project.

While I am not going to go deeper into this model at this time, what I attempted to show is that an older adult education model clearly shows that Gamification is really a mechanism for adult education in some cases, and that as Gamification experts we need to be more than just gamers. We need to understand the concepts of education and how to deliver content to adults in a way that addresses all learning styles or risk having underdeveloped solutions. 



[1] Kumar, Janaki Mythily and Herger, Mario (2013) ‘Gamification at Work: Designing Engaging Business Software’. Aarhus, Denmark, The Interaction Design Foundation. ISBN: 978-87-92964-06-9. Book available online at

[2]Posner, G.J and Rudnitsky A.N. (2006) ‘Course Design: A guide to Curriculum Development for Teachers.’ 7th Edition Boston, MA, Person. ISBN:0-205-45766-5. P. 12

[3]Posner, G.J and Rudnitsky A.N. (2006) ‘Course Design: A guide to Curriculum Development for Teachers.’ 7th Edition Boston, MA, Person. ISBN:0-205-45766-5. P. 293


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