Online Escape Room Tool Guide

Charlotte Ellis – Learning Technology Media Adviser

An Escape Room involves the gamification of learning activities creating a fun and memorable experience to help improve student engagement and enhance their knowledge (Kapp, 2012; Tsay, Luo and Kofinas, 2018, Villagrava et al., 2014). The idea is a great way to improve the students learning environment along with increasing their digital capabilities. The development of an Escape Room for learning involves a complex planning process with a continual cycle of testing, piloting and refinements (Villagrava et al., 2014). However the gamification approach can create a unique opportunity to offer fun team working elements which promote learning and engagement through the advancement of the students’ knowledge (Kapp, 2012; Tsay, Luo and Kofinas, 2018), and utilises problem-based learning to increase retention of that information (Villagrava et al., 2014).

The idea of an Escape Room can be developed for a blended teaching approach by using online tools. There are lots of online tools that could assist you with either transferring your physical escape room to online or by creating one from scratch with the online elements in focus. These tools will help you create the formula for developing a successful escape room.

An infographic for an Escape Room Formula

Some of the online tools that will assist your students throughout their time at the university are:

– Blackboard Tools

Blackboard has some powerful tools that can be used to support a virtual escape room and are ideal if you’re looking for fun ways to help your students engage with and familiarise themselves with specific tools within the VLE. 

  • Adaptive Release – a way of releasing individual items of content based on criteria met.
  • Groups – students can be automatically or manually added into groups within Blackboard that gives them access to a space where they can work collaboratively to solve problems. This includes giving them access to their own Collaborative webinar space. 
  • Blackboard Tests and Quizzes – a system for students to input their answers from activities that can be pre-marked, and then cause further content to be released.

– Word

Microsoft Word documents can be used well within an online escape room with the possibility of being able to lock a document, so a password must be found to open the content within the Word document.

– PowerPoint

Like other spreadsheets and documents, you can also set a password to get into a PowerPoint, thus, creating a lock for students to open, just hide the password (key) somewhere else for them to find. You can also create a key within the PowerPoint document by hiding a clue somewhere within the content. 

– Forms

Microsoft Forms is a great tool for putting together elements of your Escape Room. It can provide a place for answers (or ‘keys’) to be inputted which then takes users onto the next piece of content. A form could be used as a ‘guide’, survey or quiz within the Escape Room, taking users through the whole experience where users unlock each form by solving the puzzle, until they get to the end. If they input the correct answer, they move on, if not, they can try again.

– OneNote

You can create a great online escape room by using Microsoft OneNote. Microsoft OneNote is a collaborative tool, ideal as the foundation for a virtual interactive Escape Room. With its password-protected function and its ability to deal with many file types, OneNote is a perfect gatekeeper to keep your puzzles and quizzes safe. 

Using OneNote’s sections and pages can help you organise and plan your Escape Room. Also having the ability to record audio and video directly into OneNote, you can add an extra level of depth to the problem solving, which will keep your students entertained for hours. 

– Canva Interactive

Canva is an online software where you can create various interactive designs and graphics. By basically adding hyperlink or QR code elements to an infographic, it could be a great way to add additional sources for students to look at and find the ‘key’ or ‘lock’ for part of your online Escape Room.

– Thinglink

Thinglink is a free website that allows you to create a webpage with an image with hotspots. Hovering on the hotspots will bring up more content, videos, images, text and link to other web pages. 

– Jigsaw element

Create a jigsaw to reveal one of your keys. This simple jigsaw maker allows you to upload an image and make it into a jigsaw which students would need to unscramble to find the clue (or key) to get into the next item in the escape room. Pop the link to the jigsaw into one of your previous items.

References

Chandler, A. (2017). Creating Powerful Student Learning Experiences with Escape Rooms. Available at: http://www.gettingsmart.com/2017/03/creating-powerful-student-learning-experiences-with-escape-rooms/ (Accessed: 23 May 2018).

Fishman, B. & Aguilar, S. (2012). Gaming the Class: Using a Game-based Grading System to Get Students to Work Harder… and Like It. Poster presented at the Games+Learning+Society Conference 9.0, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI.

Kapp, K. (2012) The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: game-based methods and strategies for training and education. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Tsay, C. H.-H., Luo, J. and Kofinas, A. (2018) ‘Enhancing student learning experience with technology-mediated gamification: An empirical study’, Computers & Education, 121, pp. 1–17.

Villagrava, S. et al. (2014) ‘Teaching Case of Gamifacation and Visual Technologies for Education’, Journal of Case on Information Technology, 16(4), pp. 38–57.