Promoting Professional Development and Best Practice in EE
In our E-STEM programs, we are often hoping to develop problem solving and critical thinking in our students. Environmental problems are complex and require these skills, along with a willingness to thoroughly consider multi-faceted problems from all angles. A tool that fosters this sort of growth in students, with the added bonus of being really engaging, is digital breakouts. It is also perfect for virtual learning.
A digital breakout is like an online escape room. It’s a webpage with text, images and hyperlinks that students use to solve puzzles. They enter the solutions to the puzzles in an embedded Google Form. The form gives an immediate error message if an entered answer isn’t correct, so students know to keep looking for the correct answer. Solving the puzzles requires students to consider and reconsider all the information on the webpage and put it together in different ways until they find a solution. They might be reluctant to do that in more traditional activities, but this game draws them in. They don’t realize how much they’re learning in their determination to solve the puzzle.
Here are some light-hearted examples of digital breakouts by Peggy Reimers. They give you an idea of the kinds of information that can be included: images, icons, maps, graphs, videos, lists, poems, paragraphs and hyperlinks. Your breakout can be tailored for calculations, scientific knowledge or analysis, engineering principals, computer science or environmental content – whatever the goals of your program or lesson are.
Here is Peggy’s How To for creating a digital breakout. I suggest tweaking it just a bit to include the instructions for how to complete a breakout on the webpage. Making the webpage and form is simpler than you may think. The real work is in pulling together the content, just like any other lesson or program.
What do you think would make a great topic for a digital breakout? Comment below!