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We’ve all been there (in fact, some of us are still there); idly sitting at our desks bored out of our minds, staring aimlessly at the clock as it ticks away. Our teacher speaking in a monotone, mostly one-sided discussion that either puts our fellow classmates to sleep or gains little to no interaction.
So goes the traditional education system. The teacher-centered approach has long been a staple for learning and development in students.
The problem, however, is that students are either not engaged or not engaged enough to learn the subject material at hand. They become distracted, uninterested in the significance of the concept being presented.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s a lot of subjects that sound way too boring to arouse any interest for further exploration. But, what if there was a way to make any subject sound interesting?
Sounds crazy, I know.
Unbeknownst to most people, there’s a simple solution. And its incorporation into the classroom has grown substantially over the past year.
What is this trending phenomenon?
Educational Escape Rooms.
Live escape rooms aren’t entirely new – these games have been around for more than a few years now and were modeled after online puzzle games that had been around even longer. In those virtual escape games, players control an avatar in a specific setting, interacting with various objects to uncover clues and using information from those clues to solve puzzles. Real-life escape games take this concept a step further and immerse participants in an environment where they essentially become the players and must work together to achieve an overall goal.
Many educators understand that they need to engage their students by somehow adapting their subject material and teaching style to arouse intrigue. Escape rooms are innovative learning tools that bridge the physical and digital learning environments. Students transform into players and an escape game’s unique nature eliminates certain learning barriers while encouraging critical thinking and interaction within the group.
Learning is an active sport.
Compared to the traditional lecture, an escape room’s “active learning” approach will not only spark interest from students, but it can provide an outlet for further engagement beyond the escape game. Many teachers are following suit with the rise of educational escape rooms, modifying their teaching styles to improve communication with their students as well as engage them into actively participating in classroom activities. As game design and development professor, Scott Nicholson, says in his paper: “The concept of meaningful gamification is not to provide external rewards, but rather to help participants find a deeper connection to the underlying topic.” Teachers want to instill a deep passion into their students regardless of the subject material or else they’d feel like they’ve failed as educators. They desire learning on a deeper scale so that retaining information comes more natural for students as opposed to learning material for something short-term like an exam.
The learning potential is there.
Educational escape rooms can be super effective in schools because of their ability to be adapted to any subject. Students will be excited and motivated to learn different subjects in an immersive, engaging environment. 20th century literature? No problem. The psychology behind serial killers? The sky’s the limit. Some teachers have noted that the desire to learn has increased significantly, allowing many students to thrive in this natural problem-solving environment, even the ones that don’t normally interact within the classroom.
From the beginning, escape rooms manage to quickly captivate its participants and get them to engage with their teammates in an effort to accomplish their overall goal. In the classroom setting, students will be more likely to retain subject material through active learning and apply what they’ve learned in different situations, rather than memorizing facts and regurgitating answers. Teachers like Nicole Naditz hope that these lessons taught in a fun, engaging environment will transcend beyond the classroom. She said, “In life and work outside of the classrooms, solutions aren’t singular, nor are they neatly packaged or synthesized into multiple-choice responses.” Critical thinking isn’t a cut and dry process; it is a means to ponder creatively and arrive at different conclusions when presented with the same (or similar) problems. Understanding what does and doesn’t work completes the active learning cycle and further demonstrates an educational escape room’s unique benefit and highly adaptable nature, regardless of the setting.
Because, what’s the purpose of all this if we don’t reflect on what we’ve learned during our experience?