Utilizing digital educational games to enhance adult learning

Leslie Cordie*, Xi Lin, Nicola Whitton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


As adult educators, we strive to facilitate learning using a variety of teaching strategies that engage learners. Learning by doing is a powerful method that combines both application and practice to address the needs and motivations of adult learners. Digital educational games provide one type of an engaging instructional strategy for adult learners that can be delivered in both synchronous and asynchronous learning environments. Digital educational games are not something new, however, as they were developed soon after the first computer games (Wolfe & Crookall, 1998). Additionally, game-based educating has been used in many adult learning contexts, including the corporate environment to train staff in financial and economic skills, and in the military system for combat and strategy training (Whitton & Hollins, 2008). Despite these successful applications, there is a lack of recognition of digital educational games as a significant instructional method for the adult learner (Connolly, Boyle, MacArthur, Hainey, & Boyle, 2012; Gros, 2007). In this chapter, we review the research literature on adult learning via games in terms of learner motivation and engagement, specifically focusing on adult learning in the online environment. We will define key terms and essential characteristics of educational games, share best practices for developing and designing engaging educational games as an instructional strategy, and discuss the types of learning outcomes that can be achieved through the use of effective educational games, concentrating on adult learners in the online environment.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Anthology on Adult Education and the Development of Lifelong Learners
Place of PublicationHershey, US
PublisherIGI Global
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781799887348
ISBN (Print)9781799885986
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

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