Innovative Practice: BreakoutEDU

Breakout room entertainment is popping up all over the place.  If you’re not familiar with it, here’s The Big Bang Theory’s take on this experience.

There’s even a new breakout room business in Coralville.  I haven’t been there yet, but I hear from those who have that it’s a lot of fun.

If you think about these experiences from an educational lens, it’s pretty clear that there’s a lot of critical and higher order thinking going on to solve one of these puzzles. I would have never made the connection between breakout rooms and  education until I saw BreakoutEDU at ITEC last fall.  This product provides a kit that gives an open architecture to running and creating “breakout room” games designed by and for educators.

Here’s a list of the premade games available at BreakoutEDU.  Looking at the list, you can see there’s almost something there for everyone — diverse interests and most grade levels.  My personal favorites are the zombie apocalypse themed “Dr. Johnson’s Lab” and “The Candy Caper” for younger students.  The list of available games is growing, too.

While I really like the premade games, what really get’s me excited about this product is the open architecture of the kits.   Anyone can create a game. It’s pretty easy to imagine scenarios where the clues are linked or embedding in educational content — a novel/story, a scientific theory, mathematical algorithms, etc…  So, it would be a powerful marriage of content and higher order, deeper thinking.  And, while it’s engaging, challenging, and memorable to participate in one of these games, I think the real power is in the creation of the games — particularly for kids.  Again, that’s what so cool about these kits.  Anyone can create a game.  Of course, the cognitive load required for creation (think Bloom’s) is much more rigorous than the analysis and synthesis required to solve one of these puzzles.  I can imagine that many of our students would learn from (and enjoy) the process of creating and testing one of these puzzles.

Let me know if you are interesting in learning more about BreakoutEDU.  I have a kit can checkout to teachers.  Again, just drop me a line if you wish to barrow it.  There are two kits available in the Prairie Point library and Grant Wood has some kits available, too.  The kits themselves are relatively inexpensive (around $100).  And, it’s possible to create your own since there’s nothing proprietary in them — just various locks, UV flashlights, etc…

If you do decide to run a premade breakout simulation or to create your own, please let me know.  I’d love to hear how it goes.

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