So what is a Digital Breakout or Escape Room or Cracking the Code activity anyway?
Cracking the Code to break out and escape in a classroom story scenario by solving the puzzles in a classroom activity – where learners have to solve puzzles in order to get a code for each step to reveal the next puzzle. This can be called a Digital Breakout or Digital Escape Room activity as the learners have to solve problems (which can be related to anything being studied in the classroom at the time) in order to get the code word clue which will then allow them to reveal the next puzzle to be solved, and when all puzzles are solved will the learners be deemed to have cracked the code to let them “escape” or “break out” in this story scenario created by the teacher.
Why use a digital Escape Room Breakout Room activity in your classroom?
With a digital escape room, breakout room, crack the code activity learners work at their own pace, they can collaborate if you choose that option or they can work individually. They are solving problems to gain the passcode for the next activity which provides a fun challenge element to their learning. Learners get immediate feedback in that they must correctly solve the task in each section in order to get the code which reveals their next challenge.
What can be used?
Microsoft OneNote provides a good digital tool to set up the activity since it can have multiple sections, each of which can have a passcode applied, so that instructions, clues and activities are only revealed when the passcode is entered on a digital device, whether a computer tablet or smartphone. The clues (activities requiring solving a problem to get a passcode) can be very simple or require quite a bit of problem solving on the part of the learner – the teacher creating the activity chooses how easy or how hard the activity will be to suit the class and the timescales in which the activity will take place. And of course they can relate to whichever area of the curriculum is being taught at that time. It can be used as a form of revision or consolidation or testing of understanding – the teacher setting the tasks to suit the need.
How to set up a OneNote Notebook for a Breakout or Escape Room or Cracking the Code activity
The Sway below is a great introduction to how to create a Breakout activity using OneNote. This is by Candace Queen and Lynn McGee. This includes examples as well as a step by step guide showing how to set up your own Breakout/Escape Room/Crack the Code activity using OneNote.
Here’s step by step guidance for teachers using OneNote through Glow
OneNote is part of Microsoft Office 365 and is available to all staff and pupils in schools in Scotland with a Glow login. Here’s how to set up your Breakout/Escape Room/Crack the Code activities using OneNote with your Glow account:
1. Log into Glow https://glow.rmunify.com/
3. Click “+ New” and choose “OneNote notebook” from the drop down menu
4. Give your OneNote Notebook a name and click “create”
5. The notebook you have now created will open in OneNote Online
6. On the left-hand navigation menu right-click on “Untitled Section” and choose “Rename” to give your section a name, such as “Task 1” or “Puzzle 1”.
7. Add as many sections as you will require, one for each task/puzzle, by clicking on “+ Section” at the bottom left of your screen and naming each section such as Task 2, Task 3, etc.
8. In each section there will be a page where you add a title for the page and add the text with the task/puzzle instructions. As well as simply adding text any OneNote page can, if you wish, also have pictures, links, video, or embedded content. Each section page will have a puzzle or task to solve which ends up with an answer which will be what unlocks the next section (once you’ve added the passcode protection to the section).
9. To be able to add the passcode you have to now open in the desktop version (or mobile app) of your OneNote as currently the passcode protection can’t be added in the online version (though users will be able to make use of the passcode to enter the sections, you simply can’t apply the passcode protection code in the online version). So simply click on “Open in OneNote” along the ribbon menu along the top of your OneNote Notebook (note that if this is the first time you’ve done this on a computer you may have to enter your full Glow email address and password to set up the connection between the online and desktop versions). If you have the OneNote mobile app set up on your tablet device or smartphone you will be able to apply the passcode there too. To apply the lock right-click on the section tab and choose “Password Protect This Section” (if doing this on the mobile app then simply hold for a few seconds on the section name and the option to add the lock will be displayed).
10. Add the passcode answer from the previous section for each task on each section in turn (take a note somewhere else of each passcode as there is no means to access a passcode-protected section if you forget the passcode!). Don’t put a passcode on the first section so that your pupils will be able to access that right away.
Sharing your Breakout/Escape Room/Crack the Code OneNote Notebook
1. Return to the online version of the OneNote notebook you created
2. Click “Share” in the top right corner.
3. On the “share” box which appears click on the menu arrow which appears beside “Only the people you specific will have access to edit” so that further choices appear. Then select “anyone” and make sure the box beside “Allow Editing” is not ticked (in Glow this choice will is already be unticked and appears greyed out – note also that for Glow users only staff will have this option available). Click Apply.
4. Now click on “copy link” and this will provide you with a link you can now share with your class, perhaps in an email or somewhere online where your class have access to click on the link. The automatically created link may be too long to share easily if you’re displaying it on screen for learners to copy onto their browser, so you may wish to shorten the link using a URL shortening tool such as https://bitly.com/ or https://tinyurl.com/ or http://www.glo.li/shorten.php – you may also wish to use these tools to create a QR code which can give even quicker access to a site by a user using the QR code scanner built into mobile devices.
More “how-to” help
Want to see more examples of Digital Escape Rooms using OneNote?
So if you’re not sure what you might put in your OneNote Escape Room/Breakout Room activity sections then have a look at the examples on the embedded Tweets below, or on the links below that, for inspiration. Click on the Twitter Moments link below to see examples of OneNote used by others to create a digital Escape Room, BreakOut Room or Crack the Code learning activities. Below this embedded content there are also links to examples of OneNote Breakout Room Escape Room activities.
Click on this link for a OneNote Escape Room activity on a science vocabulary theme created by @Maestra_Pacheco
Come Escape with OneNote – a downloadable pdf how-to guide with example of how to create a Digital BreakOut Room, Escape Room or Crack the Code learning activity using OneNote. This is by Alyssa Martin and Lin Lee.
Dean Groom on Poekemon Go:
Teachers should care about Pokémon Go! – after from the initial network effects (craze) as it is a good way for kids to develop socially. It isn’t designed for education and certainly presents the all too common accessibility issues of commercial games – but THIS game leads you to start thinking about why games, play and learning are important – and how they can be connected with helping children deal with saturated media cultures – Great!
There is a lot more to think about in that post.
As usual with games, my mind wander and my eyes glaze, I’ve never caught the game bug (although I am interested when I read something like the above).
My first though was it is a wee bit like golf, a good walk spoiled. I am now wondering if some of my own behaviour fits the pattern.
- I wander about outside, searching, looking at the map on my phone
- I capture images
- Share and store online, socially, flickr, instagram.
Featured image my own, IMG_5868 | John Johnston | Flickr CC-BY, sort of hunting idea. The kind of Pokemon I look for.
Teachers can find the hook of games-based learning can bring otherwise reluctant learners to the table and let them shine. For some learners this can be one of their main interests outside of school, and a platform such as Minecraft, with a huge following, provides a motivational pull when that can be used to support learning in the curriculum.
Many teachers around the world have sought to make use of this enthusiasm by the learners for Minecraft – and many have shared their experiences for the benefit of others. This post seeks to bring together some of the resources shared by others to support teachers looking to use Minecraft to support the curriculum in their classes.
Minecraft in Education Advocates in Scotland
Derek Robertson (@DerekRobertson) is one of Scotland’s pioneers and advocates in the use of games-based learning and wrote about the benefits to learning and teaching using games-based learning, including Minecraft, on Education Scotland’s blog (click here to read this).
Derek Robertson also has his own blog where he wrote more about the use of Minecraft for a local project (click here to read this).
Scotland’s Stephen Reid (@ImmersiveMind) is a Minecraft teacher, running a Minecraft server dedicated to teachers and parents all over the world and running lessons with children and Minecraft in curriculum learning. Find details here http://www.immersiveminds.com/ahpminecraftserver/. Stephen wrote about using Minecraft for classroom projects, such as this one here: http://www.immersiveminds.com/minecraft-lesson-idea-flags/
MinecraftEdu – an education-specific version of Minecraft
There is a version of the Minecraft software which is specifically designed for use in educational contexts and there is a MinecraftEdu wiki on setting up and using Minecraft in Education version of the software which can be found at: http://services.minecraftedu.com/wiki/Getting_started#How_to_purchase
Andrew Miller (@betamiller) has written about the use of Minecraft in education: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/minecraft-in-classroom-andrew-miller
Article about use of MinecraftEdu in the classroom: http://www.edge-online.com/features/minecraft-in-the-classroom/
Setting up Minecraft in School
The following link provides guides to setting up a Minecraft club in school: http://www.gamingedus.org/ – with good advice here: http://www.gamingedus.org/2014/11/seven-tips-to-setting-up-a-minecraft-club-at-your-school/
The following link is to a guide to setting up and using Minecraft specifically in Primary School: http://primaryminecraft.com/starting/
There is an Australian site which is for a child and parent to set up a free online Minecraft account hosted by JoKaydia in Australia – it is not for schools but they have a contact to ask about a subscription for use by schools for a class: http://massively.jokaydia.com/about/
Set up off a network
Many teachers around the world report technical hurdles in using Minecraft in school. The issues are not generally about the software (which can usually be purchased in the same way as other software), nor the installation (in many schools, as with most software installations onto a network device, that would most often have to be done by an ICT Engineer or support technician) but around the fact that if using a school networked PC it requires a dedicated server to be set up. That would require quite a bit more time for an ICT Engineer and may cause some anxiety for network engineers around security of the main school network and bandwidth demands, and solutions which have been found to work in schools situations in one part of the world don’t necessarily sit comfortably with the other priorities and concerns of network engineers to meet needs of all users of an education network.
One solution is to avoid the school network altogether and to use a PS3 or Xbox 360 with Minecraft in offline mode. This can present the least expensive route for some schools to get going, and to avoid issues with being on the network:
1. Obtain a PS3 or Xbox360 – someone may have one at home which they will happily donate to the school after they have upgraded to a new model.
2. The device needs to connect to the Internet at the beginning at setup in order to download updates, set up the account and download the software, all before it comes into school (where, in many schools, you would not be able to connect to the network/Internet). So this would be easiest done by someone on a home wireless network – connect to the web, go to xbox live – create a profile – download updates – go to the store – purchase and download Minecraft and texture packs such as city (if using Minecraft rather than MinecraftEdu then educators have recommended to ensure that then when setup set to use offline, creative mode and peaceful!).
3. Back in the classroom it would then be connected directly to the projector or to a TV with DVI connection.
The Minecraft experience at Shieldhill Primary School
Chiara Sportelli wrote about the experience of first using Minecraft with pupils at Falkirk’s Shieldhill Primary School: “Using Minecraft the pupils are really engaged with their work. It has allowed them the experience of being ‘experts’ as some know more about it than some of their peers who are unfamiliar with the game. For some children working on Minecraft has allowed them to demonstrate equal or in some cases more advanced knowledge than their peers for the first time. One activity involves children completing a comprehension task where they create and build a camp based on a written description. They were all really keen to work on the project as homework (they actually asked for homework!). My idea was that they are a group of adventurers who have discovered a new land, they have had to build their camp and plant crops for survival. The write a journal entry each week detailing their progress and any obstacles they have encountered. They also created a 2D Minecraft version of themselves and character profile as part of the adventuring group, on paper. We then started a decision based continuation of their original story as settlers in a new land and planned for them to create a story path within the game and treasure hunt linked to moral dilemmas.”
So how have you used Minecraft with your pupils?
Do comment if you’ve used Minecraft in the classroom and would like to share your experience
OpenCaching is a free source of geocaches which can be downloaded to a mobile device (there are free apps for mobile devices). This site explains exactly what geocaching is all about, how it works, how learners can create geocaches or search for existing geocaches shared by others. The site details the etiquette of setting geocache challenges as well as providing guidelines for users who find geocaches, and links to the free downloadable apps for mobile devices.
Geocaching.com is a US site which provides a host of background information about geocaching, how to get started and how to create or find geocaches. There is a Geocaching 101 which provides answers to a series of frequently asked questions.
Ollie Bray has written about the use of geocaching by primary schools. This post sets out how geocaching can support various aspects of the curriculum, and also provides links to further resources for using geocaching in an educational setting.
Jen Deyenberg, in her Trails Optional blog, has written extensively about the use of geocaching in the primary classroom in particular. There are several blogposts in the geocaching category on this blog each either giving examples of how geocaching has been used to support specific curricular areas, or how to go about setting up geocaches. The helpful gudies as well as illustrations of what actually happened in the classroom makes these useful for primary teachers looking for inspiration.
15 Simulations to Gamify Your Class – this post by Jacqui Murray lists and describes a variety of online tools which let learners interact with a situation and make choices, which lead to different options depending on their choices. These include historical situations, life choices, enterprise activities and science and technology scenarios where the learner has to understand the situations, make choices based on their knowledge, then to see what happens based on their choice. Jacqui Murray has also helpfully added further suggestions and tips for teachers using these simulation tools in a classroom context.
29 Games Kids Can Play to Try Engineering - a post by Richard Byrne describing and linking to several online game simulations with an engineering focus on the Try Engineering website. This website also includes 114 lesson plans on a host of engineering themes, including those associated with the simulation games.
More Online Learning Simulations- a post by Larry Ferlazzo listing and describing a range of online learning simulations with a focus on finance or economy at different stages, as well as providing a link to a further post by him of additional simulations sites.