Producing college and career ready students who can think creatively, analyze critically, and make decisions based on data requires intellectual curiosity, a growth mindset, grit, and outside-the-box thinking. Game based learning, including the spectrum of activities such as Quizziz.com, Kahoot.it, collaborative games, scenarios like Breakouts, and video games encourages students who are comfortable making mistakes and taking risks so that they can build the intellectual curiosity necessary to be independent thinkers and contributing members of society. Creating a Digital Escape Room requires a few steps but pays off in student engagement and critical thinking.
There are Breakout kits you can buy, primarily from the Breakout.edu website which has fantastic resources. But, with a little ingenuity and the Google suite of products, you can use the Escape the Classroom concept without physical locks and boxes.
If you’ve never tried an escape activity in your classroom, here is a link to try a free full length digital escape activity which reviews weather vocabulary.
A simple way of creating a digital escape room is to create a Google Form that contains either clues or links to clues. To advance in the form, students must enter the correct password which can be learned by completing the puzzles. After entering all of the correct passwords, students receive a message that they have won the breakout.
To force a password in Google Forms, follow these steps:
- Create a Google Form and create your first question. It can be something like “Enter the password” if you want students to learn the password through some other clue, or it can be a review question like “What’s the square root of 144?”
- Choose “Short answer” as the type of question
- Then, click the three dots in the lower right corner of the question and then select “Response Validation.” This means that students won’t be able to advance past this question without entering what you decide is the correct answer.
- You have multiple options for what format your answer should be. You can make the correct answer be a number greater than 7 or a number not between 45 and 120. You can make it a word or phrase, URL or email address. You can also only allow responses of a minimum or maximum size. When you decide what format your answer must be, enter it on the line.
- You can enter a custom error text such as “Try again” or “Use your notes packet.”
- Finally, to make the response to this question essential to moving on, slide the “Required” toggle to the right
- You can add additional questions to the same page so that all questions must be answered correctly before moving on, or you can add new pages so that each question must be answered in turn before moving on. Your game should be hard enough to keep it interesting but easy enough to prevent frustration.
- After students have completed all of the parts of your form and gotten all answers correct, set the Confirmation message to be either a clue to another puzzle or to a notification that “You’ve won!” To set the confirmation message, click on the Settings wheel on the top of the form.
- Then, click on “Presentation.” On the Presentation tab, you can customize your Confirmation message.
You can share the Google Form with your students by writing the URL of the form on the board (Hint: Use TinyURL.com to create a short and easy URL). Alternately, you can link it to Google Classroom or email it to students. You can add another level of challenge to the escape room activity by hiding the URL in another puzzle that students need to solve before they get the URL.
If you’re ready to try creating your own breakout for your classroom, I’ve compiled a pretty exhaustive list of resources, tips, and tricks for designing classroom breakouts here.