Session 3A | Escape-room challenges for online and offline engagement

Dr Stian Reimers

The idea of playful learning is a useful complement to the performance-focused, metric-driven activities that are often central to higher education. It can help students engage with learning and university life in a non—competitive way, free of the fear of failure, and builds a sense of community among learners, benefitting from the openness, curiosity, collaboration and trial-and-error problem solving inherent in playful activities (Nørgård et al. 2017).  

This workshop looks at how playful learning can be used in universities (Whitton & Moseley, 2019). It introduces approaches and activities in higher education playful learning, drawing on academic literature and recent conference presentations and examples (e.g., ALT’s Playful Learning Conference). It then gives two real-world examples designed for use at City: 

  1. An online asynchronous quest used for induction, implemented in Qualtrics and set at City, where students have to solve puzzles and answer questions about the course, staff and institution in order to progress through the story. Students use the library indexing system, timetables and Moodle in order to get to the end of the quest. Attendees will have the opportunity to start the quest and complete it in their own time. 
  1. A live, in-person escape-room style challenge (Morris, 2020). There is a treasure chest secured with a combination padlock. The code for the lock is on one of a thousand index cards which attendees will need to sort through. Before getting there, attendees in small groups will have to solve a series of puzzles to identify the correct card, involving invisible ink, hidden clues, scanning barcodes, will along the way find out about the university, its history, and its facilities. The game is non-competitive – each group needs to find their clue in order to get the correct code, so either the whole cohort wins or it fails together.  
Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab



Morris, J. (2019). Escape rooms in education: A practical guide. Amazon. 

Nørgård, R. T., Toft-Nielsen, C., & Whitton, N. (2017). Playful learning in higher education: developing a signature pedagogy. International Journal of Play, 6(3), 272-282. 

Veldkamp, A., van de Grint, L., Knippels, M. C. P., & van Joolingen, W. R. (2020). Escape education: A systematic review on escape rooms in education. Educational Research Review, 31, 100364. 

Whitton, N., & Moseley, A. (Eds.). (2019). Playful learning: Events and activities to engage adults. Routledge. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email