Applying Gaming Technology in Higher Education

PIDP 3240 – Media Enhanced Learning
Vancouver Community College
Kathryn Truant
October 6, 2017


“Games and gaming concepts are entering higher education” (Bowen, 2012, p. 69). Educator José Antonio Bowen argues that using gaming technologies in adult education offers learners the stimulation necessary to learn facts and to apply knowledge in an effective way; he assumes that students are distracted because they are connected to their electronic devices (2012), but “are rarely distracted from a good game” (2012, p. 70). Clark Aldrich is an expert in the field of educational simulations. Aldrich believes that games, even those played by children in the schoolyard are structured by a specific set of rules and standards. Educational games and virtual simulations become stricter with specific goals used to guide participants to learn transferable competencies (Aldrich, 2009). Bowen states that “just as most faculty would not want to give up our cell phones or laptops, students will find learning without control or connection to electronic stimulation to be a new and frustrating experience” (2012, p. 52).


My initial reaction to the idea of using gaming technologies to educate adult learners is, why does Bowen assume that most learners are gamers[1], and that their learning styles have evolved away from traditional methods of instructing? I am not a gamer, and I don’t consider myself a learner that requires ‘electronic stimulation’ to stay focused on my educational goals. Are gamers desensitized to traditional learning methods because lessons must be fun for them to learn? Is it because instructors feel that they must compete for attention with students who are attached to their devices, or is gaming a legitimate and effective way to learn? Video games are certainly a pedagogical approach to learning.

“One new key direction we see for the practice of andragogy is to develop a more clear definition as to how to vary the application of andragogy to fit varying circumstances. One example [educator Malcolm] Knowles commonly used was that when leading a group of learners who are totally new to a body of information, then pedagogical strategies are often necessary until the learners have mastered the basics” (Knowles, Holton III, Swanson, 2015, p.332).

I appreciate technology because I could not imagine being without my cellphone or laptop, but I thought that games were used in pedagogy, not andragogy; Knowles reminds me that the focus of learning is mastery. As a Certified Dental Assistant in the PID program, I am constructing a hypothetical course to introduce dental assistants to the specialty of oral surgery. If the goals and outcomes of the course are to demonstrate surgical procedures in a clinical environment, then I should consider the value in using gaming technology.


I am starting to see the significance in acquiring knowledge and practicing skills in a virtual digital environment because it is safe and can be engaging. In fact, I Googled[2] “video game for perioperative students” and found a study on an e-health publication website researching the effectiveness of a video game for nursing students (Paim & Goldmeier, 2017). The game is procedure based, and looks appealing (I want to play it!). It is well known that aircraft pilots learn to fly using simulated technology like a video game; in my new perspective, I think there is some value in using this technology in a vocation like dental assisting.


Demonstration and practice in a mock clinical environment are essential, but why not consider a video game as a supplement to the traditional instructing method? Make learning (more) fun! Bowen argues that typical gamers enjoy a challenge that is easy to learn but difficult to master, which keeps them focused on the game. He also explains that educational institutions are increasingly focusing on student-centred learning and instructional customization (2012). I support an institution that delivers what students require for success. I believe that learning and practicing in a safe virtual environment will build transferable skills and confidence in a lesson’s prescribed outcomes. I also believe that the learner’s aptitude for computerized technology will benefit by participating in educational video games. I look forward to applying this technology in my own professional practice.

[1] Someone who plays interactive games, usually video games.

[2] Search for information on the Internet using the search engine Google.

@ Please refer to my Resources page for works cited