5 Powerful Observations Educators Can Take From Escape Rooms

If you have never heard of an Escape Room before, it is a team building experience where you must solve a series of puzzles with little to no instruction within a given time frame. After seeing hundreds of teams play these games, we have identified 5 key observations we can take back to the classroom. 

 

1. Be Less Helpful

Our education system has become too helpful. We’re spoon feeding information to our students, expecting them to regurgitate it on a test, only to forget it the next day. We give them step-by-step instructions to get the answer, rather than letting them find the steps on their own. Escape Rooms have created an experience that models what a classroom could look like by giving little or no instructions and leaving it to the students to problem solve.

2. Be Willing to get Uncomfortable

Out of the all the teams that have participated in our escape games, only 24% actually escape. When we observe students, teachers, and administrators play, elementary school students have the highest success rate, while administrators are least likely to escape. We believe there is a common reason why adults have such a hard time escaping. Most of us have grown up in an education system that has continuously given us step-by-step instructions. When we’re challenged with a problem with no clear instructions, we often get stuck. This results in an unwillingness to take risks in order to solve the puzzle. The tasks are set up in a way that requires individuals to think outside the box. To solve the puzzle and escape you must be willing to think in unconventional ways, attempt new methods, and get uncomfortable - these are all things we need to encourage in the classroom.

3. Have Fun

When you’re smiling you’re learning. The more we can engage our students by providing something that they WANT to do, and don’t HAVE to do, the more they will grow. In addition to this, our society tells us that when we grow up, we don’t “play” or have fun. The idea of “Don’t take yourself so seriously” is key to the journey of being a lifelong learner.

4. Create Challenging and Meaningful Work

The skill sets that allow someone to be successful at Escape Rooms are essential for future job opportunities. Based on a 2016 report released by the World Economic Forum, 65% of kids who are entering primary school will end up working jobs that don’t exist yet. Many jobs will be automated. Physical tasks with a high degree of regularity and predictability are the ones primed for automation in the near term. According to a new report by the McKinsey Global Institute, these types of activities account for 51% of the US economy. The report projects that nearly half of all current jobs will be automated by 2055. To prepare the next generation, we have to create students who can problem solve and have agency over the Four C’s of education (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity). In order for us to role model what this looks like for students, we have to provide opportunities that are challenging and engaging, and create a desire for exploration beyond the classroom.

5. Build Self Efficacy

Students need to know they have the ability to change and shape their own future. If they lack this frame of mind, they will lack self motivation to do anything. Students can have confidence in the fact they can solve problems on their own, leading them to change the world around them.

 

Our team "doing research" at Urban Escape Games in Alpharetta, GA.

We see escape games as a powerful medium for education so we launched “Escape the Bus”. Escape the Bus is a way for students, teachers, and administrators to experience hands-on problem based learning using the latest educational technology. It’s a way we can role model 21st Century Teaching and Learning through gamification. Take a look at a recent Cisco case study on the impact of Escape the Bus:

Escape the Bus: Solving the Puzzle of 21st Century Learning

Slav Tringov