Edult Education, This weeks Post from UVIC

Having reflected on the readings for this week, is there an adult learning theory (or two) that resonates for you? Do you see the influences of this theory in your own work? Or, perhaps you oppose and would like to challenge some of what you read and you may have a different perspective. And then, consider the readings and the notion that adult education is said to be a strong catalyst for social change. What are your thoughts on this?

In terms of learning, the notion of Active learning stands out for me Sierra Training Associates (2007) defines active learning as “the use of one or more interactive approaches to education and train for the purposes of engagement students in their work to acquire and understand knowledge.” Looking at Knowles four principles as stated in Northern Arizona University (2010) first the concept that Adults like to be involved in the planning and evaluation of what they are doing. Secondly, a person’s experience is from the past is the basis for learning activities, Thirdly, Adults like to learn subjects that have relevance in their life (job or personal) and lastly the use of problem centered learning as opposed to content centered. These principles are also a good foundation to Gamifcation when it is applied to the workplace, understanding active learning will help build better tools for adults to use and to learn from in a virtual world.
Looking down the list that MacKeracher (2008) offers many fit Knowles principle well, I certainly believe that learning is something an adult must want to do, they want to be involved in the learning process not just sit there and be a passive receptacle to information.

But actively involved, not only with the content but with those also those who may be taking the course with them, while I understand the need to deliver content in lecture style, there should be room to explore and experience the content as well. Often in today’s workplace training does not exist, in my company training exists in the world of Skill Port, this is the most boring delivery method of course material I have had to work with. It is non-interactive, it is read/present then answer a few multiple choice questions. There is no context in which to learn the material nor is it applied to a real world situation. This is a very ineffective, in my opinion as an educational tool for training in the workplace.

The question of whether education can bring about social change is difficult. I have to believe that this is something that each individual person has the ability to do depending on if they are in the right place in their life to be able to shift from education as a need to learn skills to survive in the work place and society or whether they are at a higher level of enlightenment and can make use of education to make social changes. Most people are too busy living their day to day life to even consider acting on social change that could radically change society in some way. Education has the potential to do this, if we can teach critical thinking skills, we go beyond the notion of learning for survival in society skills. I do not think many adult learners get the opportunity to apply social change when they are too busy living day to day. However, one of the big comments we hear in Gamification circles is ‘Don’t Be Evil.’ When we teach we could say the same thing, ‘Don’t Be Evil.’ As teachers we have a responsibly to society to ensure that we act within societal norms. That does not mean we should steer away from hard social issues, but we should also take the tack of doing no harm.

Northern Arizona University (2010) ‘Adult Learning Theory (andragogy)’[Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 9/30/2013)
MacKeracher, D. (2008) ‘Making Sense of Adult Learning’. University of Toronto Press:Toronto
Sierra Training Associates (2007) ‘We can teach the way we are taught, or we can teach the way people learn’[Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 9/30/2013)


Can Gamification work for everyone?

There are a number of questions we can ask organizations to start the process for Gamification, First and foremost, can a business issue or process be identified where Gamification can be applied. For now I want to set that aside, and agree that Gamification can and will continue to be used to solve business issues. The focus I would like to look at is once we get past what is the business problem; we have to address a number of questions concerning who are our targets. By targets of course I mean who as gamifiers are the people we want to reach out too?

Considering the size of some of the global organizations out there, this could be a daunting task, to figure out who are users are? What behavior(s) we wish to modify, change or reinforce? Lastly, what are some of the motivators we need to use to achieve success? The basic answer to most Gamification is what typically is referred to as PBL (Points, Badges and Leaderboards). While PBL, does have merits as a motivator, a good Gamification design needs dig deeper into understanding what makes a person tick. Mehta and Kass (2012) states that, “developing learning technologies with some game-like elements provides evidence that it will be possible to use games to transform behaviors. But systematically achieving that effect will require us to draw on more than game-design experience.” This suggests that in order for Gamification to be successful, we have to go beyond game play, but also a fundamental need to understand how users learn.

One of the theories that work well is Kolb’s learning styles, MacKeracher (2004) states that “Learning and therefore knowing , requires both a means for taking in and understanding experience through representing that experience in the mind as concepts or felt sensations, and a means for transforming the resulting representations.” Kolb in MacKeracher (2004) states that ‘Simple perception is not sufficient for learning; something must be done with it.”


As Gamification matures the learning experience is going to be more important that the rewards and games. Kim (2012) presents a variation on Bartle’s playing type, which when playing true games works fine with the following player types:

• Killers: those who act against other game players

• Achievers: those who build up their in-game status

• Explorers: those who gather artifacts and look around

• Socializers: those who build friendships

However, businesses should not be confused with games, and Kim (2012) suggests the following nomenclature instead of what Bartle uses in his model. As Gamifiers I don’t think it is enough to work just with Bartle’s model, we also must be aware that both the learning model and the player model must exist at the same time. Neither model is exclusively mutual of each other, in fact I would like to suggest without the learning model, laid upon Bartle’s type, that long term Gamification sustainability within the system would lost. So in order to work with a large user community, Gamification must work on multiple levels of learning for users.

Amy Jo Kim