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.
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?