Using Game-based Learning Methods to Demystify Cyber Security Concepts for Adult Learners

Balakrishna, Chitra and Charlton, Patricia (2022). Using Game-based Learning Methods to Demystify Cyber Security Concepts for Adult Learners. In: Proceedings of the 16th European Conference on Games Based Learning (Costa, Conceição ed.), 16(1) pp. 73–80.



The digital society we live in today has compelled both businesses and individuals to become increasingly dependent on the internet and online services. With the increasing cyber security threats and attacks, there is a growing demand for cyber security professionals and a need for every individual to be cyber literate and cyber-aware. But cyber security is often regarded as extremely complex and quite technical, which acts as a roadblock in educating the adult population about cyber security. 'Play as a natural means for learning' is commonly exploited in early learning and primary education settings. But it is seldom used in secondary education and rarely considered in an adult learning context. This paper presents a game-based learning resource developed as part of the 'Gamified Intelligent Cyber Aptitude and Skills Training' (GICAST) course to introduce cyber security topics to adult learners. The course is targeted at adult learners who work in low-skilled and low-paid jobs and have no formal degree-level qualification. The aim was to demystify cyber security concepts and equip the low-confidence learners with the confidence to engage in learning and gain additional digital skills to enhance their career options. This paper provides an overview of the GICAST project, the game design principles and the game mechanic employed to achieve the intended pedagogic outcomes. The paper illustrates how the power of games helped demystify a complex area of cyber security among adult learners. This is demonstrated in the evaluation results and findings from the study on the effectiveness of game-based learning methods in enhancing learner engagement and motivation to learn among adult learners.

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