Gaming and Essential Skills in Adult Education



Essential skills are the foundation, or build blocks, to all other skills. They are essential to our growth and development, whether its’s education, work or everyday life.  Higher education is entering into a new era of technology. It’s important to find new and engaging ways to motivate students in the classroom, and still focus on developing our essential skills. Is video games in the classroom the answer we are looking for? “Good video games are challenging, long, hard, and complicated, and they engage the player in active learning” (Bowen, 2012, p.59).


Active learning is about engaging and motivating our students in a variety of activities other than passively listening to an instructor’s lecture. We want to create that spark of interest and feed the flame of curiosity. Introducing apps and games into our classroom might be the way we can accomplish this. Video games have come a long ways from when I was a young. I grew up always thinking of them as just a toy. Something to intrigue your imagination, a way of escaping reality, or to explore mystical worlds for hours at a time. For the past few years, I have noticed more and more games being played in elementary schools. I was so excited the first time my son came home and asked if I could put a math game on his iPad so he could play math at home. That was just the beginning, now it’s reading and typing games, and I am sure the list will continue to grow.

Until reading the first three chapters of Teaching Naked, I still believed video games were for children. I didn’t realize the endless possibility of games for higher educations. There are games to stimulate real situations that you wouldn’t be able to practice any other way, like flight simulators for crash situations (Bowen, 2012).


What better way to teach our students than with games that help teach essential skills like, problem-solving, thinking skills and continuous learning. In the article How Video Games In The Classroom Will Make Students Smarter, Jordan Shaprio (2015), explains how “Through metacognitive functions, learners recognize their own strengths and weaknesses and adapt or iterate their performance accordingly.”  With ways of customizing games for specific teaching needs, games can be a huge asset to any classroom.  Gaming in the classroom doesn’t just provide cognitive benefits, it also provides emotional benefits. McGonigal explains, “When those emotions activate certain areas of the brain, they also counteract feelings of depression, and for periods of time extending long after the game is ended, McGonigal said. Games encourage a sense of resiliency, and also teach gamers that failure is permitted” (as cited in The Awesome Power of Gaming in Higher Education, 2013). Video games are not just for children anymore. Reading these articles has helped me to understand multiple benefits to gaming in the classroom. I am excited that my children’s school has adapted to adding games to teach but I never could have imagined the full levels of learning that you could get from a game without doing this of research on the topic. My only concern with introducing too much gaming into classroom would be the loss of communication. In my opinion, this is an essential skill most effectively taught in person.


I always try to incorporate different instructional activities into my classroom. I have used different types of media in my teaching but I have not expanded into apps or gaming. I am excited about the new possibilities in education. The list of websites and resources included in Teaching Naked are endless. I actually felt a bit overwhelmed in the beginning because there are so many websites and games to check out. I am going to start slow and visit a few of the websites mentioned in the articles I read, as well as our textbook. I think my biggest challenge with this new information is finding the right resource for my classroom and my students. In   the dental assisting program, problem solving and critical thinking are a very important skills for our students to develop. This is an area I would like to focus my attention on. I have learned from past experiences it’s critical to start slowly when introducing new ideas or activities. Even though student’s levels of technology far exceed mine, using technology in the classroom can still be a new learning curve and change can sometimes be met with resistance.


Bowen, J.A. (2012). Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom    Will Improve Student Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Buck, T. E. (2013, October). The Awesome Power of Gaming in Higher Education. EDtech. Retrieved October 8, 2016 from

Shaprio, J. (2015). How Video Games In The Classroom Will Make Students Smarter. Retrieved October 8, 2016 from

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