About escape games in education
Updated: Mar 5, 2019
Escape rooms are (non-virtual) games in which the participants are confined to a room and must solve puzzles to successfully escape the room within a certain time frame. Escape rooms are a hugely popular all over the world, their appeal seems to stem from a healthy mix of team work, problem solving, hands-on experience, intellectual challenge, a mix of 'luck & brain', and an immersive experience that transports players to a different place and time. Also escape rooms seem to offer a Zeitgeist solution to the need to reconnect with the real world as an answer to growing alienation due to ever rising screen time.
Recently, this trend enters the educational field, since it has a great potential as a relevant and exciting strategy for teaching and learning. Participating in escape games encourages the development of 21st century skills, such as: team work, problem solving, creativity, and taking risks. In addition, while participating in an escape game, students look at curriculum contents from a different perspective. They are highly motivated to solve the puzzles, and the platform allows expressions of different learning styles.
Still, not every escape room in an educational one, and not every educational escape room is a good one. What makes an escape room educational and good? Here are some design principles for a good educational escape room (or escape game):
1. Aligns with the curriculum and has a concrete content knowledge
2. Fits large groups
3. Suitable for a regular classroom
4. Based on cheap and accessible materials
5. Can be used as an evaluation tool
There is no doubt about the potential value of escape games for teaching and learning. Teachers can develop escape games for their classes, or even mentor their students to plan and build one as part of the Project-Based Learning (PBL).