There is growing interest in digital game-making as an approach for teaching transferrable skills such as problem-solving, team work, and creative thinking (Earp, 2015). However, a focus on digital games can limit the accessibility of this approach because of the need for specific technologies and expertise. Motivation also differs among those with different genders, backgrounds, abilities, and gaming literacies. The EU-funded EduScapes project aimed to address this by creating a model for learning through the collaborative design of escape rooms, which does not limit the use of technology in game design but also is not constrained by it. The escape room design enables students to embrace the use of a whole range of technologies, digital and beyond, combining mechanical, electronic, and analogue puzzles.
An escape room is a game form where small groups of players work together in the same physical space over a limited time period to solve a variety of physical, mental and collaborative puzzles and achieve some overall objective (usually escaping the room). There is a growing interest in the use of escape rooms for learning (Clarke et al, 2017), but this project went a step further to investigate the potential of students learning by designing rooms for themselves. Escape room design offers the opportunity for students to design something playful together, creating a product that can be tested but is not formally assessed. Crucial to this group based design process is the way in which it supports productive and inevitable failure through iterative testing, develops imagination and problem solving skills, and aims to create a spirit of play in students and staff alike. This approach has been used for three years with sixth form students at a high school in Stockport as an annual enrichment project.
This paper will explore the findings from a research study with 40 students and 2 staff members that is taking place from January to July 2018. It will discuss the impact of the study on students’ self-perceptions of a range of skills, and their perceptions and experiences of taking part. In particular, we will consider the potential of collaborative game design for supporting failure, and provide an overview of the different types of technologies that could be used to support the development of escape rooms in this context.
This paper will demonstrate how student and staff participation in collaborative activities, using a wide range of technologies and tools, can create safe learning spaces in which experimentation and creativity thrive.
Session content: evaluation and reflection
The session will be based on data collected during the EduScapes research project: 2 questionnaires with 40 students looking at self-perceptions of a range of transferrable skills, and various background data; interviews with 40 students, and interviews with two staff members. The data collection and analysis will be complete by August 2018 so available for the conference in September.
Clarke, S., Peel, D. J., Arnab, S., Morini, L., Keegan, H., & Wood, O. (2017). escapED: A Framework for Creating Educational Escape Rooms and Interactive Games For Higher/Further Education. International Journal of Serious Games, 4(3), 73–86.
Earp, J. (2015). Game Making for Learning: a Systematic Review of the Research Literature. In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation ICERI2015.
Resources for participants