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Delivering an Escape Room Activity via Zoom

“Can I have multiple students completing this escape room activity at once?”

One of the most common question comments I get on my Escape Room YouTube Videos is this one.  And the answer is, of course!  

While I can’t speak for every kind of digital escape room activity, all of the activities I create, sell, and share are designed for multiple users all working on the room at the same time, either individually or in a group.  

This kind of synchronous activity can make digital escape rooms a GREAT option for hybrid or remote courses, especially if you do just a little bit of prep work first.

The following tips are specifically for an instructor who is going to have students complete an escape room activity synchronously, using Zoom.  (Though the instructions would be similar in a Google Hangout or Microsoft Teams chat.)

  1. Get Comfortable with Breakout Rooms – if you are wanting to use an escape room as a collaborative activity, you will probably need to use the Breakout Room feature in Zoom.  If you are not familiar with this feature, take a bit of time to make sure that you are comfortable using it before your escape room activity.  (For example, you may have to go into your settings to turn the feature on before your class begins.)
  2. Play the Room Beforehand (and have the solution and hints handy) – If possible, play through the room activity before assigning it to your students, especially if you are not the person who created it.
  3. Prep Students Before the Activity – Before you start the clock or begin the activity, make sure the students have the following information:
    1. The Link to the Room.  Every student should pull this up on their device BEFORE you send them to breakout rooms.
    2. Collaboration Expectations.  I generally let each group decide whether they all want to work from the same device or whether they want one person to pull the room up on their screen and share it via Zoom.  But if this is a group activity, I stress that they should only submit one answer to the forms and that they are expected to work collaboratively as a group.
    3. Tech Expectations.  Will they be able to complete the activity on a mobile device, or do they need a laptop?  Will someone in the group need to have to have a google account?  Make sure students know the tech expectations before they begin to play.
    4. What to do when they’re done.  Do they need to take a screenshot of a results screen?  Is there a special code they will need to give you?  How will students prove that they have indeed completed the activity?  Should they wait for a timer to go off or return to the main room when they are done?  Make sure they know the answers to these questions before they start to play.
    5. What to do if they need help.  If students get stuck, should they “page” you, or send an ambassador back to the main room to ask questions.  
    6. What happens if they don’t complete the activity.  In Zoom, you can “summon” all students back to the main room at any time.  If you plan to do this at the end of the time, make sure students know what to expect.  You may also want to give time limit warnings via the “broadcast message to groups” tool during the activity, especially if your escape room does not have a built in timer.
  4. Set them loose!  Once you’ve thoroughly prepped the students – and made sure they had no questions – send them to breakout rooms and let them collaborate.  You can choose to hop from room to room to make sure they are on task, or you can let them work independently.  
  5. Wrap Up.  Students will inevitably complete the escape room activity at different times.  As different groups complete the activity and return to the main room, you can ask them for feedback and reflection, both on the activity and on how well they collaborated.  

Hopefully this helps you prepare students for a Zoom-ed breakout room experience.  Good luck!

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