by Reshan Richards, Co-Founder Explain Everything

I was at the #TiES15 conference in Minneapolis, MN for the past couple of days learning and sharing with a really terrific group of educators from the region. I had written previously here about ordering a BreakoutEDU kit (which is currently on backorder due to high demand). They do provide the resources and information for a DIY kit, but I like the nice lock box they provide so I will happily wait.

On the conference schedule I saw that there were sessions about BreakoutEDU running during each block and I managed to get into one of the sessions which were all capped at 15 people.

It turns out one of the creators of BreakoutEDU was in fact facilitating the sessions which was pretty cool.

You can learn more about BreakoutEDU from their website, but essentially it is a toolkit for designing a blended physical and virtual space puzzle while weaving in content-related themes into the tasks needed to "break out.." It follows the popularity of Escape the Roomevents.

I had a hunch that Explain Everything would be a good complimentary tool for BreakoutEDU, but once we actually jumped into the game my hunch was totally validated. I found that being able to take pictures of puzzles, sketch out notes and ideas, look things up on the internet, and try to connect clues and identify patterns were all things needed to succeed in the game. Of course team work and communication were also vital parts when trying to make sense of puzzling artifacts. Below is a screenshot of my scratch space I used while trying to help our group solve the puzzle (which we did in 28:43!).

I think other people will still be doing this exact game today at the conference so I don't want to post any spoilers. But once a game is complete, there is an opportunity to record and reflect on the processes and to orally untangle the clues that were documented and added to the stage.