Tips to a Successful Digital Escape Room


Instead of looking at escape room games for the public or for business team buildings, we thought that today we could have a look at digital escape room games for the classroom situation. A real brick-and-mortar escape room game is a great tool for fostering collaboration, communication, creativity, and also, those all important, critical thinking skills. Digital escape room games are different in that they can be played in any location. Even though the game is in digital form, it’s still possible to achieve all the same results as a real, land-based game.

What is a digital escape room and why is it important? 

One of the great reasons why we love digital escape rooms is for their absolute simplicity. No purchases needed, no preparation of physical materials, and no time needed to set up everything. It’s just some tech on a laptop. In the classroom situation, the activity of learning falls from the teacher to the students. This allows them to learn directly from their own mistakes. It creates a risk free environment in which they can fail as many times as possible and then pick themselves up and try again, without any negative consequences. For example, if a student is unable to unlock a particular door, then they need to rethink their whole approach. It's a struggle for the students, but the results are always worthwhile.

We thought we’d put together a number of tips that will help you set up your digital escape room within the classroom situation and be assured that the whole gameplay runs smoothly.

Make sure you have the proper technology and tools to perform an escape.

It's important that you have the correct tech devices, as digital escape room games are played online. Whether you have a set of iPads or Chromebooks in the classroom, it's important to ensure they are all completely up-to-date and ready to use. Check and double-check each device so as to ensure that they are all completely updated and ready for the task ahead. Also ensure that as these devices, if they belong to the school, do not have any security features or locks in place which stop them accessing the websites in your need in order to play these escape room games. 

Nearly all digital escape room games will make use of Google's many applications including Google Forms, Google Slides, Google Sites and Google Docs. So please ensure that all students have access to Google applications. Once again you may well find the school security blocks the sharing of original source material, along with Google applications to any sites outside of the school’s own security blanket.  

Make sure to construct your groups in order to ensure a fun and productive digital escape room experience! 

As a teacher you know your students better than anyone. On the whole, we suggested you form groups of no more than three players. A group of two will not be able to complete the game within the allotted time. Any bigger, with say, four students, and you'll find that there will be three students working and one who is watching. Three participants tends to be the magic number that encourages everyone to work together as a single cohesive unit.

Be careful mixing high achievers and low achievers. The reason for this is that if you put high achieving kids with those who are struggling, then the former do all the work and the latter just sit and watch. We suggest you place kids into groups based on their achievement levels being more less evenly matched. Everyone likes the idea of the brightest students somehow lifting up those less so. But in reality, it doesn't work that way, and the bright ones just speed ahead, leaving the others in their dust.

iI your students have never played any form of escape room game before, then the very first game is going to be very hard indeed. They will be facing new clues and puzzles which they have to solve within the fixed time limit. Not only that, but the nature of these puzzles means that they will need to use all sorts of new faculties, from creativity to critical thinking. Compared to the day to day classroom, an escape room will need a completely different way of thinking. Of course, this is one of the major positive points of playing these games in the first place. Once the students have played the game through, then subsequent games will become much easier.

Make your room engaging

As you’re going to be using your day to day classroom, it's imperative that you make changes that will help make the game more immersive for the players. This would definitely involve changing the seating arrangements. You can also add props and other factors to the classroom including, probably one of the most useful, which is sound. We suggest you head over to YouTube and look for relevant videos from which you can download the music or sound effects. As the students struggle to escape, the soundscape can add to the ambiance and in some ways to the pressure. All in all, it all makes the game much more enjoyable and immersive.

Another option is to search through the dollar store or charity shops, and look for props that can be used during gameplay. Believe us, when the class walks in first thing in the morning and finds all the real props, they will already be engaged. Another idea is to leave little Easter eggs or prizes that can be discovered throughout the game play. These are a great means of encouragement as the escape room game proceeds. You don't have to go over the top spending-wise, but just some small tokens of encouragement.

One point that you should consider carefully, is that you will need to know the whole layout of the escape room game yourself, so that you will be able to give hints and tips when they are needed. It's important that you are able to troubleshoot any problems or issues that may appear during gameplay. Escape room games that are used in classrooms will make use of some Google forms which will have a response validation for all the locks. So please take time to ensure that Google forms are all functioning accurately before the game starts. There's nothing more frustrating than when the students know that they have the right key and yet it will not open the lock.

If you start, but are short on time, then there's no reason why you can't finish a complete escape room game, but over multiple days. Have the students use Google Sheets to record the daily progress. 

Make sure that once the digital escape room game it's completed, that you ask the students whether they enjoyed themselves? You'll find that they are happiest when there is some struggle involved, and by working together they are able to emerge victorious. You will have to swear them all to secrecy, as other classes may be interested in playing the game, and of course, it would not work if they already knew the answers. Have fun!

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