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.