As I mentioned in my last post, for my second breakout I explored the digital option that Breakout EDU offers. While creating a digital breakout was certainly different from the physical experience that I created earlier, there were still quite a few lessons I learned in part one that I was able to apply this time around - which definitely lowered my frustration levels!
What was the Focus of my Game?
Just as I did with the first breakout, I wanted this breakout to be centred around Ribble's Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship, but more specifically - Digital Literacy. Initially, I was planning on creating a breakout experience that would focus on Digital Law, but with the emergence of COVID19, and all the misinformation and fake news that followed, I decided that Digital Literacy might be a more relevant topic. Once again, I explored the Ministry Digital Citizenship Continuum as well as the RCSD Digital Citizenship Online Course to identify what the most important aspects of digital literacy that I would need to include in my breakout. Ultimately I decided to design puzzles that would centre around the following aspects of digital literacy:
The Game Design Process
One of the biggest lessons I learned from my first breakout was to ensure that I decided on a story/theme for my game before planning anything else. Without a solid theme, it becomes very difficult to design puzzles because, without it, there's no real reason for players to want to solve the puzzles. With this in mind, I initially spent some time thinking about a new theme, but I kept coming back to the secret agent theme I had created in the first breakout. I liked the idea of using the same premise as I did in the initial breakout because it would allow me to connect all the experiences into a larger story that players could unwrap as they play through the games.
So...what did this mean for the game?
Well, for the digital breakout, players once again assume the role of CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) trainees who have been assigned a new mission to save the world. HACKER, the infamous criminal organization that players bested in the first breakout, are once again up to their old antics and plan to unleash a Fake News machine online with the intent of spreading panic and chaos across our country. Unfortunately, when players are assigned the mission, only 20 minutes are remaining until the device activates so players need to act fast to stop HACKER's plan from succeeding.
In the previous breakout I created, I had to ensure that I was using the Backwards Design Model while creating my game because physical breakouts are typically completed in a linear order. However, it was much easier to plan this time around because digital breakouts are usually non-linear, meaning the locks can be completed in any order the player chooses. Instead of having to use clues to unlock a final box in a physical game, players only need to solve each of the locks in a digital game to complete it. As such, I didn't need to utilize the backward design model and had more freedom in planning out my breakout, without worrying about a final puzzle to tie everything together.
As I mentioned earlier, this stage of the design process took the longest, but honestly, it was probably the most enjoyable. I not only had a blast designing the puzzles, but I also had to spend copious amounts of time to create each of the images for the puzzles (like the one you see above), which was equally as fun. To make this happen, I used a combination of Adobe Photoshop and free images from Pixabay.com to create the puzzles found for each lock. I haven't had much use for my Photoshopping skills lately, so this was a great experience to get some much-needed practice! Also, just like the previous breakout, I needed to get my ideas on paper first before I even touched a keyboard. If you want to get an in-depth look at how my (scattered) brain works, check out some of the brainstorming documents I created below.
The Final Product
For the first breakout, I needed to ensure all my resources were compiled where other educators would be able to access them easily. However, for a digital breakout, I didn't need to worry about this because everything is housed on the Breakout EDU website. This is both a positive and a negative, as it's certainly easier to facilitate the game with students simply go to a website to participate, but on the flip side, educators need to have a subscription to Breakout EDU in order to access it. While certain educators would be able to access the game, the vast majority would not - which doesn't fully meet the initial goal I set for this project. With this in mind, in the future, I would like to adapt this game into a more accessible game such as a Google Form Breakout or OneNote Breakout (thanks Curtis for the suggestion!).
Now onto the final result! Since the vast majority of you probably don't have access to a paid subscription to Breakout EDU, instead of providing a link to the game, I've taken screenshots of each puzzle for you to check out below.
Just as I did with the last breakout, I felt it was important to create a facilitator guide that would help other educators if they wanted to use this game with their students. Since this is a digital breakout, there really isn't much planning or prep work necessary, so this guide essentially covers what each lock entails, and the explanation for solving so educators can help students if they get stuck.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable project as I not only grew more familiar with the Digital Citizenship Continuum but also creating/facilitating breakouts within a classroom. I believe both of these skills will help me to become a better educator, and I look forward to continuing to apply these skills in the future. Thank you very much for following my journey on this project. As always, please feel free to let me know of any questions or comments you have surrounding my project!
As I highlighted in my updated plan for my Major Project, in addition to a physical breakout, I also wanted to explore the digital breakout option that Breakout EDU offers. As the name indicates, these breakout experiences are drastically different from the physical ones as they are designed (and played) on the Breakout EDU website or mobile app. While I would like to begin designing my next breakout experience right away, I feel that it's important to explore digital breakouts a little deeper before beginning.
How do I find a Digital Breakout?
Unsurprisingly, to use the digital breakout feature you still have to have access to a Breakout EDU account - which runs for about $100 for a year subscription. As I mentioned in my previous post, while this is certainly a steep cost, if you plan on using both the physical and digital breakouts regularly in your classroom, it may be worth the price. However, if you are looking to spend less money (or none at all), Breakout EDU also offers free digital games that have been submitted by users, which can be found by changing the search filter to "digital" and "user-submitted". Although, as this blog post solely focuses on the paid version, we will assume that you were walking down the street and magically found a $100 bill and had nothing better to spend it on than a subscription to Breakout EDU.
If you are only looking to facilitate preexisting games with your students, Breakout Edu's database provides access to over 800 different games that tie into various subjects and grade levels. At first glance, this seemed pretty awesome as there were tons of games that focused on the core subjects and I could easily see myself using with my students. However, when I did a quick search for anything related to Digital Citizenship, what was once a large pool of games, dried up into a puddle of three breakouts. For such an important aspect of education, it was quite surprising to see next to nothing in this subject area.
How do you play a Digital Breakout?
As an educator, before you assign the game for your students, you are taken to a page that provides you with everything you would need to facilitate the game. Since these games are played online, there is no set-up the only information on this page is the combination of the digital locks as well as a brief explanation of the game.
For the game itself, they begin with a title screen that includes the story/theme as well as the various digital locks that need to be solved to complete the game. These locks are very similar to the ones that are used in the physical breakouts as they can include any number of the following:
When you click on one of the locks to solve, it takes you to a separate page with a prompt and a puzzle to solve. These puzzles range from text, images or videos which guide the players to a combination that matches the type of lock they are trying to solve. When players believe they have the correct combination for the lock, they are able to enter it at the bottom of the page and if they are correct they will be redirected to the home screen.
Designing Digital Breakouts
While my next post will most certainly cover the process I used to design a digital breakout, I thought it might be cool to explore a different feature that Breakout EDU offers: Student-Designed Breakouts. This feature wasn't something I was initially aware of, but the more I explored the "class" function, it seems pretty awesome. Essentially with a purchased subscription you also have the ability to create a "class" and provide each of your students with accounts that they can log in with the usernames that you create, or through their Google Classroom accounts. In addition, you not only have the ability to assign games for your students to play, but students also have the ability to create their own games. This adds an entirely new dynamic to using Breakout's in the classroom as instead of just having students apply their knowledge of a topic by playing a game, they now have the ability to extend it even further by creating games for their peers. As a teacher, this definitely excites me as it would be a really fun tool to use for students to demonstrate their understanding of class content.
Below are my key takeaways when it comes to student use:
Terms of Service & Privacy:
Well, this sums up my research into the digital breakouts on Breakout EDU! Stay tuned for my next post, which will chronicle the process I used to create my very own digital breakout centred around digital citizenship. Thanks for reading!
While there aren't a ton of exciting things to do while stuck in my house, one positive was that I've been able to dedicate a lot of time to finish up my Major Project. In my last post, I explained the process I used to create a fully developed Breakout EDU game centred around Digital Security. While the majority of that post focused on the process I used for creation, as well as exploring the finished product, one thing I didn't spend a lot of time on was the educator side of the resource. During my research phases for Breakouts, I quickly realized that while some user-designed games might have had really interesting themes and topics, without clear facilitator resources, it would be almost impossible to use. With this in mind, I knew that if I wanted other educators to use this game, I needed to create detailed instructions and support documents that would help them facilitate the experience easily within their classrooms.
What Does This Look Like?
Before I began creating facilitator resources, I did some digging online and while there were a few different routes I could go, I ultimately followed the advice/templates that Breakout EDU requires to officially submit a game to their database. I decided on this route primarily because it appeared to be the most user-friendly, and also included access to lots of resources such as pre-existing templates and free images (see below) that I could use when creating my document.
As I created my facilitator resource, I tried to ensure that the explanation of gameplay was as easy to follow as possible and that the set-up instructions for the game were clear and would result in minimal reset time. Within the document itself, I focused on four main components that would be integral for facilitation:
Feel free to check out the completed overview below to see what the final product looks like. Please let me know if you think that there is anything I'm missing or anything you believe could be improved to make it more user-friendly for other educators!
But Wait, There's More!
One suggestion that Breakout EDU had when designing a game was to create a video tutorial to accompany a written document. They explained that these videos should explain the clues in-game as well as how participants will arrive at the various lock combinations. This resource is something that I felt was extremely important as I'm an audio/visual learner and having someone explain how a game works would be incredibly helpful for me (and hopefully others like me). For this video, I decided to create a PowerPoint presentation using some of the free images and templates that Breakout EDU offers. Once I completed the PowerPoint, I simply used the "Record Slide Show" function and recorded myself explaining the overview and set-up for the game. While I feel the video went pretty well, two things I'd like to improve on for future videos would be:
Below I've linked the video I created, once again feel free to check it out and let me know of anything you think I could improve on to make it more efficient for educators. Thanks!
In class this week we had the opportunity to discuss the notion of Media Literacy in our world today. As an educator, the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the term "literacy" is probably the one that most people are familiar with from their school days - Reading, Writing, and Numeracy. While this may be the most common form of literacy, this week's wonderful presentations by Daniel, Shelby, and Brad challenged me to broaden my understanding of what literacy can be. Terms like Digital Literacy and Media Literacy were terms that I was relatively unaware of before this class, but it's evident that with the way our world has changed, these are just as important as the traditional forms of literacy.
The more I thought about it, the term literacy is like the base of a tree, and its many branches represent the various types of literacies and skills that be applied to our students today. Foundational Literacy, Media Literacy, Digital Literacy, and Physical Literacy are only a few of the branches that are related to the term, and as Shelby mentioned in her post this week, there are many different types of literacies that all bear equal importance. With this in mind, when we were posed with the question, "What Does It Mean to be Literate Today?", my initial answer would have centred around balanced literacy in a classroom, but now understanding that there is so much more to literacy, I believe there are multiple forms of literacy that can be included in order for a person to be "Fully Literate".
A Stark Reality
Over the past few weeks, it's become abundantly clear that my students (and many adults) need is support in developing media literacy skills. With the recent pandemic of the COVID19, there is so much misinformation circulating the internet causing unnecessary panic and stress. In my own classroom this week, after overhearing some rediculous "facts" from my students about the virus, I asked where they were getting their information. I was shocked (well, not that shocked) to discover that the majority of their information was coming from Memes and TikTok. At this point, we discussed what reliable sources of information would be online and took some time to explore organizations like the World Health Organization and the John Hopkins University Map to learn the facts about the virus. While my students were certainly misinformed as a result of the information they received, they're not the only ones, and it's scary to think that this is just the tip of the iceberg. One visit to Twitter or any comment section on Facebook, would paint a much darker picture of many people in our society who are in desperate need of media literacy skills.
What Exactly is Media Literacy?
Media Literacy is defined by Common Sense Media as "the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they're sending." As I mentioned above, developing these skills is crucial in our world today as anyone with access to technology can create media, which can pose a significant problem for finding authentic information. As educators, it's so important to understand this and ensure that we teach our students the skills to determine what information (and sources) are credible when they are online. In the article shared by Daniel, Renee Hobbs outlines Five Critical Questions of Media Literacy that can be used to help identify the credibility of a media source:
So...Is That It?
When it comes to answering that question, "What does it mean to become fully literate", I don't think there is a definite answer. With so many types of literacies in our world (thanks to Shelby for finding this), it may not be possible to become "fully" literate in everything. However, I definitely think it's important that as educators, we find ways to incorporate a variety of literacy-building activities into our pedagogy and provide students with the skills to continue building these literacies long after they leave our classrooms. While we may spend more time building some literacies (such as Foundational Literacy) over others, even just spending part of a unit or lesson highlighting other literacies could have a large impact in the future.
In this week's class, we spent some time exploring what role schools should play in teaching digital citizenship. This was a particular area of interest for me as both Trevor and I did some research into this area last month for our assigned presentation (found below). As many educators would agree, digital citizenship is something that we absolutely need to teach because so many of our younger population are fairly experienced with technology, but may not be critical users or may require further skill development in being safe and responsible with technology. This point was further explored in Victoria's awesome presentation when she explained that "Students growing up in a digital age need to be equipped with the tools to think critically about the impact technology has on their lives". The bottom line? Students need guidance and support in becoming responsible digital citizens, and while parents certainly play a role in this, educators have the ability to make the biggest impact within a school setting.
Why Teach Digital Citizenship?
When researching this topic, one issue that Trevor and I came across was the viewpoint of the "Two Lives vs. One Life" approach. As we dug deeper into the Two-Life approach it became fairly obvious that this would not be something that would be practical or responsible to utilize when working with students. Viewing both home and school, as well as offline and online presence as two separate entities can be problematic because:
From a professional standpoint, the third bullet is one of the biggest reasons why this approach does not work within education. Educators would have to be naïve to believe that the issues facing students outside of their walls, wouldn’t find ways to manifest within their classrooms. In my experience, a lot of the issues that have occurred in regards to the inappropriate and irresponsible use of technology were issues that took place at home - outside of school hours. This is also a viewpoint that is shared by the Regina Catholic School Division, as they explain on their digital citizenship page:
“For young people, [cyberbullying and marginalization] start outside of school, yet inevitably infiltrate classrooms and hallways leaving teachers, counsellors and administrators to solve new 21st century problems.”(Regina Catholic Schools –Samaritans on the Digital Road. 2017)
Thankfully, the “Two Life” approach is not one that many schools or divisions are using within their buildings, as they instead opting for the “One Life” approach to digital citizenship. Not only is this approach the opposite of the "Two-Life" as it views both lives as interrelated and connected, but it heavily emphasizes the importance of educating and guiding our students at school as they journey into the digital frontier outside our walls. By utilizing this approach, schools play an instrumental role in creating digitally responsible citizens and also help to bridge the gap between home and school.
What Does This Look Like?
As was mentioned in the video by Trevor and I, according to a national survey of over 1200 American teachers, "Teachers top technology-related concern was that students lack the skills to critically evaluate online information." This is an important notion because if we want our students to become informed citizens, they must be able to distinguish fact from opinions and "Fake News", While initially, this may seem like an arduous task, it's a relatively easy skill that could be taught and applied into almost any subject area. As Trevor mentioned in his post this week, some possible examples of this could be:
In her post, Shelby also highlighted the importance of teaching media literacy and shared a great resource that she will be using with her students to evaluate the reliability of a source. The IMVAIN model is easy for students (and teachers) to use and with such a simple acronym, it will be easy to remember.
We Need to Practice What We Preach!
While the methods for teaching mentioned above are very important to teach digital citizenship, as teachers we also need to be aware that students are going to learn just as much from watching us, as they will from listening to us. With this in mind, educators need to ensure they are truly "practicing what they preach" when it comes to digital citizenship. Whether it's ensuring we are using Creative Commons images in lessons, crediting image sources or even reading the terms of service before using an app, I believe as educators, we need to do a far better job of ensuring we are demonstrating this for our students. In our group discussion this week, Brad brought up a point about teachers using their personal devices during a school day. While this may not seem like a big deal, when viewed through the lens of a student, it's hard to respect the digital procedures set in place when leaders aren't setting the proper example. As teachers, we expect our students to follow these procedures and only use their phones during the appropriate times, and for school-related purposes. However, how many of us have used our devices during a school day for personal use? I know I'm definitely guilty of checking a message or reading a text while I'm in the classroom (Don't tell my admin!), but what message does this send my students? As I've explained to my students time and time again, actions speak louder than words, and as educators and role models, this couldn't be more relevant.
As a bonus, enjoy the musical styling of Barry White to really hammer home that point. Enjoy!
After a brief hiatus, we hit the ground running in our first ECI 832 class after the winter break. This weeks class was packed full of information that helped us to reflect on our identity, not only in the real world, but in the digital world too. While there is so much that can comprise our digital identity, the notion of the "Digital Footprint" was something that really stuck with me. Through participation in a "Cyber-Sleuthing" activity, we spent some time "researching" (one could call it creeping as well), a willing volunteer and were tasked with finding as much digital information as we could on each individual. This was a real eye-opener for me as I was surprised in how much information we were able to find on our assigned individual from random sources. While the obvious places to look were social media accounts, we were also able to find plenty of personal information from outside sources such as projects that were completed when they were in university, phone numbers from old resumes, and even through reverse-image searches. This definitely hit home with me, as up until that point I felt that I had done a pretty good job of moderating what personal information I shared online. The fact that so much of our personal online information could actually be shared without us even knowing it, really got me thinking about my own digital identity, and how it was changed, and will continue to change with each day that passes.
The Past Matt Bresciani
Having grown up in the "Digital Age", my digital identity wasn't something that I was fully aware of or completely understood. Before the time of social media, I believe my digital identity was relatively sparse as aside from MSN Messenger and Neopets, I really didn't have much of an online presence. In fact, I remember being so amazed when I was in Elementary School, that if I searched my name on Web Crawler (not sure how many people would know what this was anymore), I could find a picture that I had drawn for a contest. Aside from that, there was very little attached to my name online. It wasn't until the first social media websites started coming out, that I really started adding to my digital image (and quickly).
Reflecting on it now, I can't believe how much I posted online without really thinking about it. Before Facebook was officially launched, I remember signing up for multiple social media accounts and uploading personal information such as profile pictures, my birthday etc. Between 2005 and 2007, I had used MySpace, Nexopia, and Hi5 to connect with my friends online. The kicker was we would only use each one for a few months before ditching it for the next popular website; it wasn't until Facebook launched in 2007 that I finally stuck with one website. Just thinking about this now, it's scary how much personal information I've left in the digital abyss without even batting an eye. While a quick google search, brings up nothing from these old social media accounts, I'm sure if I was to dig for long enough, I would be able to find some of what I posted to these websites in my teens.
With the creation of Facebook, I can distinctly remember a shift in what I was sharing (often oversharing) online - and man was it ever a lot. With Facebook, not only did I want to post (and get tagged) in tons of pictures, but there was also pressure to share lots of personal information such as my birthday, gender, city, relationship status, likes, dislikes, and interests. While this wouldn't have been a big deal if I was only sharing this information with a small number of people, there was also a lot of pressure to expand my social circle, and make as many Facebook friends as I could. I specifically remember people bragging about how many "friends" they had on Facebook, as if it was some sort of indication of their popularity and self-worth. Regardless of what your social situation was like in real life, so much value was placed on how many "friends" you had, and while it seems a little ridiculous, I still see this mindset with my students in apps like Instagram (Followers) and Snapchat. As scary as it is, I would estimate that in its prime, I had close to 1000 friends on Facebook, many who I didn't know well (or at all) - all with direct access to my personal info. Scary!
As time progressed after High School, I'd like to think that I matured and so too, did my understanding of the impact I was leaving online. While I still wasn't putting a ton of thought into what I was sharing online (and with who), I do remember a major shift in how I approached my digital identity in my third year of education. After having the opportunity to participate in a pre-internship experience, I quickly learned that the first thing students were going to do when meeting their new interns, was to find them on Facebook. It didn't take long for my first student to try and "add" me, which led me down a bit of a rabbit hole as discovered that I essentially had an open Facebook account and all my information was available to anyone who searched for me on Facebook. As you can imagine, I was quite shocked as a quick look at the pictures on my profile would depict a very different identity than the professional one I was trying to present as a pre-service teacher. This led to the Great Purge of 2010 as I went on a tear of deleting and untagging myself in any pictures that didn't promote my mature and professional identity (Goodbye Craven pictures!) It was at this time, that I also learned more about the privacy settings on Facebook and ultimately changed the "tagging" system, and essentially created a closed account so I could no longer be searched.
The Present Matt Bresciani
As was mentioned earlier, after my third year of education, I had ultimately made the decision to limit as much of my digital presence online as I could so it couldn't be used against me as a professional. This was my philosophy for much of my final year of University until I was introduced to a different approach after taking ECMP 355, with our very own Alec Couros. In this class, Alec made it clear that having a digital presence was not a bad thing or something that we needed to hide from the public, but rather something that we needed to spend time meaningfully building. Regardless of how hard I tried to keep things private, there were always going to be aspects of my identity that were going to make their way online, so rather than fight this, I made the decision to embrace it.
I feel quite satisfied now (in my eighth year of teaching) with my digital identity as I once again did a self google search after our class last week. The results are exactly what I had been hoping for all those years ago as an undergrad student - google is packed with information about me that all create a positive and professional digital identity. Whether it is information that is directly linked to my professional life such as blogs or school websites, recreational information such as my Goodreads account, or even pictures and stats from the Football leagues that I play in, all this information is positive and helps to build the identity that I want.
The Future Matt Bresciani
This is definitely an interesting notion as I don't see myself switching up the practices I'm using to help create the digital identity that I've worked so hard on. However, one thing that I definitely need to be cognizant of is the large amount of Fake News and clickbait that is currently out there. I would hate to tarnish the Digital Identity that I've worked towards by sharing or liking an article without fully investigating or CRAAP Checking it. Thankfully my peer Dean, has me covered with his Major Project!
Something I also wonder about is how I would approach the digital identity of any future children I might have. Is this something that I need to help to actively build for them as they grow - until they are ready to take it over for themselves, or something I should try to keep as close to a blank slate as I can? I'm very curious about this as there doesn't seem to be a consensus among parents as to how to handle the digital presence of their children. While thinking about this, I did a quick google search and a 2014 article titled "How Young is Too Young for a Digital Presence" was one of the first things that popped up. It's clear that even six years after this article was published, there still is no definitive answer to this question.
While I may not have a fully formed opinion on this, I'm wondering if anyone else has any experience in this and could provide me with their thoughts around handling your child's digital presence?
Here we are, the first day back from our winter break! While I may not have gone anywhere extravagant during our week off, I definitely accomplished a lot at home for my major project - and enjoyed working on it. Escape rooms are somewhat of a passion of mine, so having a week to sit back and fully committing time to designing my own game didn't really feel like work and was an oddly relaxing experience. This week definitely taught me many lessons for creating future games and has also really given shape to what my final project will fully look like.
So...What Exactly Did You Do?
As I described in previous posts, for my major project I wanted to create a series of Breakout EDU's that would connect directly to the Digital Citizenship Online Course that was designed by my school division. While the main focus of these Breakout's were centred around the online course, I realized after some exploration into the course itself, that each lesson in the unit focused on of each of Ribbles Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship. This provided me with the opportunity to not only create a Breakout that could be utilized by teachers within my own division, but really any educator who is using Ribbles work to teach digital citizenship.
With our last class still fresh in my mind I was decided to focus on the area of Digital Security for my first breakout. Before I could begin the puzzles for this game, I needed to further explore what content I wanted to include in my game. Because this game is meant to serve as a formative assessment tool to compliment lessons teachers are already teaching, I needed to ensure that I was very selective with what information I chose to highlight in my game. If I were to include too much information, it would not only increase game-play time, but would take away from the overall experience I wanted to achieve by creating this game. To help me decide on focus points for the game, I explored the Ministry Digital Citizenship Continuum - specifically on the section about Digital Security.
Through the exploration of this document, I decided I would the three main aspects of Digital Security that I wanted to focus on in my game would be:
If you were to fully read the section for the Grades 6-9, you might notice that there was one aspect that I left out of my game: Sexting. As a Grade 8 teacher I completely understand how important it is to teach this aspect of safety to my students, but I'll admit I was a little uncomfortable with the idea of playing a game that addressed such a serious topic. I felt that this was something that needed to be addressed in the lesson itself, and could be addressed in a follow-up exit slip activity with the students.
Alright, You Got the Information...What About The Game?
Once I figured out what information I wanted to include in my game, I was officially ready to start thinking about the puzzles and flow of the game itself. I'll be honest, I definitely did not think this step would require as much time as it did! I was in no way prepared for the mental blocks that I would hit while trying to come up with engaging and creative puzzles for students to solve. However, after exploring the Breakout EDU database, I had found some new inspiration for puzzles and began to create my game using the "Backwards Design Method". Essentially I started at the end of my game (Opening the final lock box) and worked my way backwards to the beginning of the game. As I began to create some puzzles, I realized that I wouldn't be able to fully complete them until I decided on what type of locks I would be using for my game as the puzzles needed to provide the combination to a specific lock - and without knowing what type of lock each box would have, the puzzles would be irrelevant.
At this point, I hit the pause button on my puzzle development, and explored the different types of locks that are typically used in a breakout game and eventually decided on using five lock boxes with the following locks:
After deciding on these locks for my game, it became much easier to design the puzzles as I knew exactly what I needed the solutions to be. For example, for one of the three digit locks I obviously needed the puzzle to result in a three digit combination, so I created a word puzzle where students shaded in boxes on a grid that applied to "protecting yourself online". If students shaded in all the correct boxes, the grid would create three numbers that would ultimately be the combination for one of the locks. Just in case my explanation was sub-par, here is a visual of what students would see if they successfully completed this puzzle:
From this point, I continued to create four other puzzles, with each focusing on one of the aspects of Digital Security that I mentioned earlier. One thing I also needed to keep in mind as I was creating puzzles was how each puzzle and solution were going to link together. After all, a breakout or escape room game need to be more than just a room with a series of riddles and puzzles. It was at this time that I hit another mini-roadblock as I had completely ignored the first tip that I researched in my previous blog post: Create a Compelling Story.
How could I have been so naive to miss such a crucial step in the development of my game? It was obvious that all I had at this point were puzzle ideas, with no real reason for students to want to solve them. However, after some time I eventually settled upon a story that placed the students in the role of trainees for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, who were tasked with stopping the the evil group HACKER (I know..very creative right?), from exposing the digital personal information of millions of Canadians. Essentially throughout the game, students need to unlock each of the five lock boxes, which contain information about a "double agent" within their organization. Due to a self-destruct protocol, the students only have 45 minutes to unlock all the boxes and correctly identify a "double agent" within their organization before all the evidence is destroyed. While this theme may be a little farfetched, I eventually settled on it because it was easy to tie the idea of Secret Agents and the CSIS into Digital Security, and also...who doesn't love a good spy movie?!
So...once I had this theme nailed down, it was very easy to bring everything together into one game - and also helped me to change a few of my puzzles to better tie into the overall theme of the game. To get an even more in-depth idea of the planning process, here of some snapshots of my planning documents, as I am definitely someone who needs to plan things out on paper before I even touch a computer:
The Final Product
Once I finished creating this Breakout, I had one final decision to make - where do I put it for people to access? In the end, I decided to utilize both Microsoft Office 365 as well as Google Drive. Microsoft Office 365 was my main choice for sharing with my division as this is the software that we are currently using and the breakout was partially tailored to link to their Digital Citizenship Online Course. I also decided to use Google Drive as many people outside my division have Google Accounts, and also using Google Drive is required if I decide to officially submit my game.
Feel free to check out and explore my game! Please feel free to use with your students and please give me any feedback you have as you explore it!
Also, just to make it easier here is bit.ly link that you can use to get to my game as well:
What did I learn?
As I reflect back on the creation of this breakout experience, there are a number of things that I've learned that will help me in the design of future breakouts for my Major Project. Overall, the creation of this game definitely took far longer than I had anticipated when I proposed this for my project. Between the researching, planning, creating and now reflecting stages, this single game took over 20 hours of my time, which was no where near what I had in mind at the beginning of this class. Below I've summarized some of my key learnings that will hopefully help me to create future breakouts more efficiently:
How Has This Affected the End Result of My Major Project?
As was mentioned above, this experience definitely took me far longer than I had initially planned when I had decided on this for my major project. While I've learned a lot that will certainly help me save some time in future breakouts, I no longer think it's realistic to create 4-5 fully developed games as this first project alone took me well over 20 hours of time between the researching, planning, creating, teacher development and reflecting stages. After more reflection, it also became apparent that not everyone will think like me, and I needed to created several resources that would enable teachers to easily understand the set-up and flow for my breakout game. This led me to the creation of several resources for teachers to use before facilitating the game with their students - which also took quite a bit of time. (Stay tuned for my next post, which will exclusively focus on this experience!)
With all this in mind, I've tried to be a little more realistic with my project and have adjusted my goals accordingly:
Thanks for reading! If you have any other suggestions for me, please let me know as any feedback would be valuable before I begin creating the second Breakout!
This past month has been quite an eye-opening experience for me as both a grad student as well as an educator. Going into this class I felt quite confident in my knowledge of both Educational Technology as well as Digital Citizenship. I'm routinely the "tech" guy or the "techy teacher" at each school I've been at, and I'm always happy to share (what I thought was a large) wealth of knowledge with other teachers. However, with each week of this class, I'm consistently finding myself humbled with what I thought I knew about digital citizenship. This week was particularly interesting as I've always felt that I've done a pretty good job at the beginning of each year (and throughout) teaching my students to be responsible digital citizens, but I've come to the realization, that I'm definitely guilty of not "practicing what I'm preaching." When we were exploring Ribble's Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship through wonderful presentations by Amanda, Catherine, Nataly, and Melinda, two points really stuck with me:
When teaching my students to be good digital citizens, I had never really looked at it as only being the tip of the iceberg when it came to their digital presence online. However, as we discussed in class while teaching students to be good and responsible citizens is a good thing, it's typically encouraging them to take a passive role. As I now understand, as educators we can do so much more by empowering our students to become digital leaders and to take an active role in their online presence to inspire others. This is something that I certainly need to work on in my professional life as I would definitely describe myself as more passive online. I need to push myself a little more when it comes to things like Twitter, and rather than simply "liking" or "retweeting" - work to become more of a digital leader, rather than simply be a good digital citizen.
As for my second learning point, while we certainly discussed Digital Safety and Security in class, it wasn't until I responded to a poll by my fellow classmate Trevor Kerr, that I had my big epiphany in this area.
Great, but how does this relate to your Major Project?
As I mentioned in my first update post, my plan for my Major Project is to create a series of Breakout EDU's that focus around each of Ribble's Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship. While I haven't created a full Breakout yet, I've completed some research into how to properly design my own games. Before I officially began researching though, I realized there were a few things I needed to figure out. I first needed to decide if I wanted to create a digital game or physical experience around the classroom. After some contemplation, I opted for the physical experience as it's the one I'm the most familiar with and thought it would be a good starting point for this project. The second thing I needed to figure out was which element of digital citizenship I wanted to focus on. With my major learning this week revolving around privacy and safety, I felt the best place to start for this project would be Digital Security.
As I began my research, I came across a number of tips that most sites suggested I follow while creating a Breakout experience:
While not a direct link to Breakout EDU, I also found this video to be quite helpful in planning a Breakout as many of the tips they provide can easily be applied to the Breakout model. On a side note, I wish I known some of these tips before I did my last escape room with my girlfriend. Definitely would have save us a lot of frustration and fights over the duration of that magical hour!
Now that I've completed some research into how to effectively create a game, next up is actually applying this knowledge and creating a game. My current goal over the break is to create one physical game around Digital Security and then begin to explore the Digital Game options that Breakout EDU has to offer and try to create a second game around a different element of digital citizenship. I'm excited to get started on this and will be sure to post an update next week with what I've created!
While 2Pac may not have written his song Changes about the education system, one line does ring true within this setting as students - and the world around them - are continually changing and "things will never be the same" - or stay the same. This week's discussion focused on the changes that have occurred over time and how the different generations have responded and reacted to these changes. While there is much content to delve into from this lesson, one particular question left me with many thoughts regarding my profession and what it may look like in the future - "Do schools really need to change?"
How are Schools Changing?
As the world around us continues to evolve, schools need to embrace the ways that technology can positively impact student learning. Technology is not only something that the younger generations are actively engaged in but also something that has great potential to improve the education system as a whole - when used properly. Over the past decade, it became evident that the current state of education, while working for many, was not effectively reaching all our students. As a result, many educators have sought out new ways to integrate technology into their pedagogy as a means of solving this problem. Blended, Flipped and Online Learning have been one solution schools (and divisions) have adopted as a way to bridge the gap between their students, and has become a major change to the educational landscape in our province. Utilization of these methods has allowed for the learning experience to be tailored to meet the needs of each individual student, and also offers a flexible timeframe so students have the opportunity to learn at their own pace.
As a Grade 8 teacher, I began using the Flipped approach in my math class a few years back when I was inspired by our fellow classmate Dean, who had adopted this model within his High School classroom. When I saw the positive effect this approach was having on his students, I too decided to give it a whirl to see if it would help to improve the learning experience for my students. At the time I was teaching in a school that had a 68% EAL (English as an Additional Language) population and I wondered if having the ability to re-watch lessons and work at their own pace would help my students learn better than the typical "lecture-style" lessons I had been using before. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this method not only had positive benefits for my EAL students, but all students in my class, as many were able to work at their own pace through each unit, and the majority of my time was spent working one-on-one with any students who required assistance, instead of lecturing at the front of the classroom. While shifting to a Flipped Model, can be a lot of work upfront, the benefits far outweigh the initial time commitment, and I honestly can't ever see myself swtiching back to the traditional model of teaching math.
Why do Schools need to Continue to Change?
Recently, I was selected (along with Trevor and Dean) to pilot a new STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) program called goIT with our classrooms. The goal of this program was to introduce the concept of STEM to our students and teach them about the current STEM skills gap that exists in our world today. It became very evident that this concept was incredibly important, not only for my students, but for all students as there is currently a major gap between education and opportunity that exists outside of schools. One of the first lessons in this project highlighted some alarming statistics that emphasize the need for education to bridge the present and future gaps that will result from changes to technology and the world around us. Some of the most important reasons why schools need to change are:
After taking some time to reflect on the wonderful presentation by Mary Beth Hertz, I came to the realization that even though I've been teaching digital citizenship for the majority of my career, there is still so much I don't know. Throughout the presentation, I furiously jotted down notes of different approaches, ideas and resources that were shared by Mary Beth and other members of my EC&I 832 class. I can honestly say that after our session, I walked away with a plethora of new ideas that will not only be utilized in the classroom, but also my personal life as well!
Is There More To Being Digitally Literate?
At the beginning of her presentation, Mary Beth touched on a course that she teaches every year to the Grade 9's at her High School, which focuses on the introduction to the internet as well as the devices the students will be utilizing throughout their time in the building. She explained that this course is important because using technology is only one part of being digitally literate; the other part is understanding the functionality/capabilities of the technology. This notion is something that really resonated with me, as I am very fortunate to be a Connected Educator in my division, and teach in an environment that is full of technology. Each year I do spend some time during the first few weeks of school teaching my students the basics for using their laptops and the different technology that we will be utilizing throughout the year. This typically involves crash courses for using Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft One Drive, Kidblog, Adobe Spark, and Outlook. However, the more I think about it, the majority of my time is spent educating my students how to use the technology, with no time dedicated to teaching about the functionality of the technology, and the implications it may have.
This is such an important realization for me professionally, as I'm currently only teaching my students to be partially digitally literate. By teaching only one side of the technology, I'm essentially encouraging my students to hop in the driver seat, without fully understanding how to use the car. Something as simple as "cookies", could be a powerful lesson for students when I'm teaching them how to use online programs such as Onedrive or Adobe Spark. Explorations into how these programs will utilize their personal information could lead to meaningful discussions about privacy, and what happens to their data online when using some of the other technology or apps that they currently engage in outside of school. Dedicating time to this aspect of digital citizenship provides students with more tools to help them investigate and explore the backside of technology before deciding if they will use it or not - rather than the old way of simply "signing up" going into it blindly.
The Need for Self Regulation
In her presentation, Mary Beth also touched on something that is incredibly relevant for our students (and just about anyone nowadays) - self-regulation in regards to technology. With the accessibility of technology being at an all-time high, it becomes very easy to be consumed by it. As an educator, I've witnessed the effects that over-consumption of technology can have on the lives of my students, and simply taking the devices away is not a solution to the problem, but rather a band-aid fix of a much larger issue. As Mary Beth and Alec explained, self-regulation is something that students both want and need, and as teachers, we play a large role in making this happen. We need to understand (and not judge) the world our students are living in and provide them with strategies on how to manage their time with technology. Many teachers are already educating their students on how to regulate themselves from a young age, and adding a technological component to his would be a relatively simple way to combat this issue as a whole.
When discussing self-regulation, Mary Beth also offered one idea for an activity that she had utilized in the past with her students that I'm particularly interested in trying out. She explained that as part of the course, she tasks students with deleting one app off their device or go without using a specific piece of technology for 24 hours. As students participate in this activity, she asks them to vlog about their experience and reflect on how they feel. Mary Beth explained that oftentimes with this activity, students realized that they weren't missing out on much, and many did not re-install the app after the activity was completed. This is something that I have personally experienced as last year I gave up Facebook for Lent and quickly realized that I wasn't missing it, as I was no longer spending hours scrolling through my newsfeed each week. After Lent, I was in no rush to re-install it, and while I did eventually get it back, it made me more cognizant of how I utilize the time spent on my phone. This realization, coupled with Mary Beth's project makes me wonder if my students would have a similar experience/epiphany in regards to their own technology usage if I were to attempt this in my classroom. Even if they don't, I'm willing to bet this would be an excellent exercise to start the discussion around using technology in moderation, which would still lead students in the right direction.