Singapore Summit – Take-aways (1 of 3)

flickr photo shared by stevendepolo under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

I’m grateful that I could attend the EdTech Team Singapore Summit at Singapore American School. It’s hard to believe that this is the fourth year of the summit and my hats are off to the crew at SAS that include my friends Patrick, Paul, Jay, Heather, and Shaun. There was lots of great learning over the weekend, here are my top three take-aways:

1) BreakoutEDU – platform for unlimited creativity

flickr photo shared by GingerLewman under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

 I walked into the room for the session led by James Sanders not knowing what to expect. There, in the front of the room, sat a wooden box secured with a variety of locks. What followed was an active session where I learned a lot about the history of communication, but even more about collaboration.

BreakoutEDU is an open source game platform that is based around a starter kit that you can order or make yourself. A scenario is introduced and players uncover clues which eventually lead to unlocking the locks to ultimately open the box.

Game scenarios for a variety of contexts exist but there’s also a thriving community of Facebook users sharing ideas on how BreakoutEDU can be used in their classrooms or other contexts.

Why it matters:

BreakoutEDU provides an engaging experience for learners as they get exposure to content. It would be useful as you introduce a Unit or as a review activity. More than that, it really allows you as teacher to directly observe student’s collaboration, communication, and self-management. After the game, students can reflect on what they noticed about the game and how they might have done things differently.

Students and teachers designing their own games for the platform is a great way to engage with content and really focus on the right level of challenge in questioning. To be engaging, the puzzles need to be hard enough to be compelling and require many people to work toward solving them but still be achievable in the timeframe of the game. The platform provides a way to get teachers thinking as designers of learning experiences and that way of thinking is transferable to other types of pedagogy.

Of course, students designing puzzles and game scenarios is a great way for them to practice design thinking. Students would really have to know the content of a Unit in order to develop interesting puzzles bringing that knowledge into play. Divide your class into teams where each group creates a game and then swaps with another team to play the games. We are already planning to do a game exchange with students from the Liger Learning Center in Cambodia.

But, it’s wood… where’s the tech?

The really exciting thing, as someone interested in educational technology, are the possibilities for authentic, problem based tech use. BreakoutEDU puzzles can take players online as they search for potential answers to clues (often resulting in dead-ends and wasted effort which is a great discussion point in the debrief). You could even design a puzzle to require the use of Scratch, “hacking” a fake malware program installed via usb on their laptop, launching a drone to retrieve an out of reach clue, or even 3D printing a skeleton key to open a simple lock. The possible links with technology are only limited by one’s imagination.

How might you use BreakoutEDU in your context?

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