A virtual escape room is a learning experience that challenges students to use their knowledge to solve riddles and puzzles with the goal of escaping multiple “rooms.” Each room is a webpage, with students starting on the first page; the riddles and puzzles yield information, such as numbers that combine into a code that students enter to escape that room into the next. This type of activity can be used in a variety of ways in a course, such as introducing a new concept, reviewing content before an assessment, collaborating with peers, or taking a virtual field trip.
We at the Center for Creative Instruction and Technology at Delaware Tech assist educators in developing virtual escape rooms for their courses. Faculty can develop escape rooms in either a learning management system or a free website hosting service, such as Google Sites. The goal is to develop several interconnected challenges or activities based on a course’s subject matter to enable students a more engaging and collaborative alternative to a handout or quiz.
To help educators design and develop their own virtual escape room activities, we have created a sample virtual escape room and a virtual escape room tool kit. You can check out the sample escape room here. As you work through the activities within it, think about ideas for your own escape room.
The tool kit includes a variety of resources you can use to organize the design of a virtual escape room. We developed it to assist faculty in (1) focusing on the specific purpose of and (2) planning the logistics of your virtual escape room.
There are two versions of the tool kit that provide the same information: a fillable PDF and an interactive web application. We developed both to assist in designing the specifics of an escape room and provide you with in-depth resources to develop all the activities necessary. Below is a brief walkthrough of the toolkit.
The first page of the tool kit begins with the most important part: the why. Why should we spend time and resources on creating this activity? Why is this the best way to meet the needs of the course objectives? This section of the tool kit defines why this activity is necessary and what course objectives it will address.
Next is the resource section, which will help you build engaging, accessible experiences in the escape room according to the average time it takes to complete them. This is hardly a comprehensive list; rather, it is a starting point for brainstorming the creation of a virtual escape room. Each type of activity links to a description of the tool, one or two examples of how we used that tool in an escape room, and documentation on how to use the tool to develop an interactive activity. We have provided accessibility information as well as accessible alternatives for each of the tools we recommend.
The final section of the tool kit is where the big ideas of the escape room come together to form the different rooms. Starting with planned objectives, each room is designed with an interactive activity, directions, and how to escape to the next room. The beauty of the design process is that you can create the perfect experience for your students using as many activities as you want with the difficulty level you choose. Once you have completed the design of the escape room, use the completed room flow and the resources section of the tool kit to execute it. We recommend creating your escape room in Google Sites or your institution’s learning management system. We hope you will take these resources and create amazing student-centered digital learning experiences.
Jason Silverstein, MEd, and Carrie Curry, MEd, are instructional designers and Sara Carter, MEd, is the director of instructional design and technology at Delaware Technical Community College.