Adult Learning and Learning Games

     Alot more is being done with games and learning for kids than for adults.

Alot has been learned in the past few years about adult learning.  Alot of what we understand about how adults learn applies directly to making learning games.  Adults can learn by making games together!  (why should kids have all the fun?)


       A few days ago, Beth Kanter posted about online collaboration and adult learning.  Beth’s post incorporated a slide show by Nancy White, about how to make social networking and online collaboration relevant to nonprofits.  Point: nonprofit social entrepreneurs don’t have time to play round — our networking and collaboration has to generate a valuable result.  Point: it is in OUR power to make these tools useful to us.


Also check out “Power of the Newbie” from coolcatteacher.


     In fact, one of the primary things we’ve learned about adult learning is that adults ONLY want to learn stuff that is practical and that can be directly applied to our work in real life.  Social entrepreneurs who are striving every day to generate earned income to support their missions want to learn how to do it more successfully.

     We know that adults want to build on what they already know.  Adults want to share what they know.  Adults want to learn from their peers.

     We know that we possess tacit knowledge (stuff we don’t know we know) derived from our experience.  Adult learning is accelerated in collaborative environments where tacit knowledge can become explicit, recognized, shared, repurposed, and reused.

We know that adults learn well what they have to teach.


     The latest theories about learning tell us that learning is a dynamic social process in which learners themselves construct useful knowledge.  When people who share a common real life interest, common purpose, common challenges get together on purpose to overcome those challenges – magic happens!  We form connections and make meaning from our common experience.  We recognize the common solution patterns to our common challenges that appeared to be hidden.  Each of us is both teacher and learner, when we do this together.


     What we are coming to understand about games for learning highlights the fact that when we play a game, we are participating in a community of practice for learning.  As we play the game, we are learning how to play the game more successfully.  Learning within the game takes place “just in time” in the context of use – you immediately apply what you learned to your next move in the game.  You cycle back through practicing what you learned and getting immediate feedback on how it worked.  Within the game culture, “failing” is good –  “trial by error” — you “fail forward”.  Recycling through the content is not failure, but in fact it is deeper learning.  You learn from every failure and get better at playing the game.


     Game-playing engages higher order meta-cognitive skills and asks us to relate to the situation along multiple parallel lines, not liner.  We see and act on things we already know, or things we know in a different context, transfer knowledge and see how it applies in a different context.


Game playing is a social experience. (hmmmm …. and ‘learning is a social process’) (hmmm…together, we know everything each one of us needs to know) (hmmm….sharing what we know and learning from each could be FUN)


     Games are a tool for us to think with, together.  Games are a tool for us to explore solutions with, together. 

If playing a game can do all that for our learning – imagine what making a learning game can do for us!  Making a game together is literally a tool for us to change the real-world profitability landscape for nonprofit social entrepreneur earned income ventures.


     Game industry stats indicate that gamers spend an average of 20 hours per week playing games.  What if YOU spent even a smidgen of that playing at making a game for social enterprise profitability?  Would we all be generating more revenue to support our missions by the end of a week?


Please leave a comment.  Tell me what YOU think.


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