The module will work through the process of designing an educational escape room from scratch.
The escape room concept involves a common goal, together with a need for collaboration to solve problems and achieve that goal on time. In the field of education, social constructivists advocate that learners construct knowledge in interaction with each other. Based on social constructivism, teachers utilize escape rooms to stimulate team-based or collaborative learning (Fotaris & Mastoras, 2019; Hermanns et al., 2017). A resulting design criterion for educational escape rooms is to ensure active participation amongst team members.
How can we describe an educational escape room in terms of design? What are the elements that we should think of, develop and match with one another in order to generate an effective and engaging game-based learning experience? (Clarke, Peel, Arnab, Morini, Keegan & Wood, 2017).
The first step of the proposed framework requires teachers to analyse their students and, in practice, construct a mini-needs analysis of who the game experience should be aimed at. Conducting an analysis of the target group before developing other content is considered a conventional practice in most disciplines and education systems. Following the stage process suggested from the Trans Disciplinary Methodology by Arnab & Clarke, the Participants step is broken down into five areas for educators to consider at the start of designing their educational escape room.
Following this step, teachers should provide a base understanding of the user types who will interact with the proposed game and how to proceed with the next development steps.
One step in the process is to identify the target participants’ age, ability, learning style, and overall interest in potential themes for the escape room. Participants need to be fully engaged and attentive in order to benefit from the experience, so catering to their interests and recognizing any limitations is essential to the design process. It is important to distinguish amongst the types of learning styles in this group and to attempt to incorporate puzzles that reflect these learning styles.
As a teacher, you should always conduct a learner analysis before starting your course/teaching and prior to designing your Escape Room. Before you can begin to plan an effective learning environment, you must know enough about your learners to make careful considerations about how to best introduce the content and engage them. Understanding various characteristics of your learners enables you to plan the escape room that best addresses their range of needs.
Learner analysis is understanding the target learners and understanding in advance what they can and will do. Analysis may include gathering evidence from a variety of sources by conducting interviews, observations, reviewing existing materials and surveys.
Learner analysis is the process of identifying who your audience is; their demographics, prior knowledge, physiological and affective and social needs. Each of these areas will shape your design decisions and influence the instructional methods and strategies that you choose to implement.
This is a visual representation of the types of learner characteristics that an instructional designer should take into considerations when conducting a learner analysis, Darcy Janzen,2016-03-25
Starting out by learning general demographic information about your learners can shape your design strategy rather quickly. Knowing the number of students, their age, the geographic locations of the students, cultural characteristics and their socioeconomic status will drive what learning technologies you can implement, resources you provide, pedagogical choices and methods of delivery and communication. The chart below provides demographic considerations that instructional educators should seek to locate in the learning analysis process.
This is a visual representation of the types of learner characteristics that an instructional designer should take into considerations with regard to learner demographics when conducting a learner analysis, Darcy Janzen, 1 April 2016
|Size & Nature||Lesson activities (discussion boards, group work etc.) are structured to accommodate the size of the class. Communication structure allows for adequate feedback and student support.|
|Age & Gender||Language and examples/scenarios should be relevant to age groups. Instructional objectives and tasks should be age appropriate.|
|Cultural||Content should be presented in a manner that provides non-native speakers tools for viewing (recorded lectures that can be stopped, watched and re-watched). Cultural views on student/student and student/teachers roles can influence interactions and communication.|
|Occupational & Socioeconomic||Provide resources for equipment checkout and labs.|
|Geographic||Location of students can affect connectivity, ability to participate in online meetings and group work.|
Cognitive and Prior Knowledge
It is extremely helpful to understand how much knowledge and skill the learners have when they enter the learning environment. The cognitive and prior knowledge data that you collect about your learners during the learner analysis process will help you make effective decisions on where to begin the instruction (entry level fundamentals or more advanced concepts), what types of activities would be meaningful and of interest, as well as how much support (technology, research, etc.) should be included. As you get more experienced in conducting a learner analysis, you will discover a wide range of characteristics to consider, that will influence your design choices in many ways.
This is a visual representation of the types of learner characteristics that an instructional designer should take into considerations with regard to Cognitive and Prior Knowledge when conducting a learner analysis, Darcy Janzen, 4 April 2016
|Education Level||Course content aligns with learner levels of mastery. Learners may share similar skills and experience, which can allow for real-world problem solving activities and collaborative group projects.|
|Prerequisite skills||Include supplemental resources/instruction if learners fall short of meeting prerequisite skills. Align instruction with learners’ entry-level skill sets and provide resources for tutoring or online training/support.|
|Learning styles||Design instruction to keep students actively engaged (active learning, Problem/Inquiry based learning activities, etc.) Provide multiple modalities of content presentation (visual, textual, auditory). Activities/support should address the needs of independent/dependent learners.|
|Technology skills||Provide technology support or skill development to get student to the required level of proficiency. Connect to local or online help support systems. Build in tutorials for required tools.|
|Learning disorders||Collaborate with Disability Services to ensure learner needs are identified and met. Provide accessible content, adapt or provide alternative activities to accommodate user needs.|
Understanding physical challenges that your learners face is critical to building a learning environment that supports their needs. Commonly, teachers may overlook/miss out on the hidden challenges that learners experience. Considering students’ physiological needs will also affect choices about the types of activities conducted, presentation of content, as well as access to student services.
This is a visual representation of the types of learner characteristics that an instructional designer should take into considerations with regard to Physiological characteristics when conducting a learner analysis, Darcy Janzen, 4 April 2016
|Emotional||When confronted with problematic situations, learners will habitually respond in ways that they have shaped from experience or natural tendencies. Design scaffolded presentations and activities to promote deep processing of concepts.|
|General Health||If basic needs are not being met, it may have negative impacts on student motivation and engagement. Provide flexibility in course activities if possible; create a supportive and aesthetically welcoming and calming environment. Build a learning community of support.|
|Environmental||Accommodations will need to be implemented based on learner needs and type of sensitivity. The amount of sound, video, screen time required may need to be adjusted.|
|Physical Disabilities||Collaborate with Disability Services to ensure learner needs are identified and met. Provide accessible content; add additional support to students if needed. Adapt or provide alternative activities to accommodate user needs.|
Knowing the affective / social characteristics of the learners can support the teacher’s work. These can include a student’s self-image, past experiences that shape the student’s perception of the lesson, and other considerations listed below. These affect the motivational elements you choose to include and access to student supports.
This is a visual representation of the types of learner characteristics that an instructional designer should take into considerations with regard to Affective and Social characteristics when conducting a learner analysis, Darcy Janzen, 4 April 2016
|Attitude toward course||Instructions should be clear and supportive, reinforce positive and lessen negative perceptions and biases.|
|Motivation Level||Structure activities that will interest learners. Make content relevant and demonstrate value of participation and engagement. Support (feedback, nudges, etc) should be staged throughout the course to maintain social presence.|
|Attitude toward self||Provide time/stress management support resources to reduce anxiety. Scaffold activities so that learners do not get overwhelmed. Confident learners need to be engaged and motivation maintained. Determine level of learner control over activities and content.|
|Relationships||Design instruction to keep students actively engaged (active learning, Problem/Inquiry based learning activities, etc.) Provide multiple modalities of content presentation (visual, textual, auditory) Activities/support should address needs of independent/dependent learners.|
|Interest||Design interactions and activities that align with learners’’ interests. Interest should be maintained throughout the course by presenting new challenges and opportunities for learners to engage in new ways.|
Now that you understand these concepts, you can put them into practice and be better prepared to create your Escape Room.