Lost in the Island: A Gamified Experience for Professional Educator Training

Lost in the Island: A Gamified Experience for Professional Educator Training

Eva Garcia-Beltran
Copyright: © 2023 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-6081-8.ch007
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In recent years, there has been a dramatic rise of the use of escape rooms in education. It is a creative form of a gamified learning experience that proves to be effective especially in higher education and online learning environments. This research describes a breakout learning experience, framed in an online master's degree of educational innovation for professional educators. It was designed as a final review of the main theoretical concepts from the course, fostering students' self-assessment. In addition, this experience would pose an example of an active methodology activity that may serve as an inspiration for the students' own teaching practice, presenting them with a student-centered strategy that can provide an innovative dynamic in their classes.
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The rise of the use of escape rooms in education is indisputable, especially in the last decade. Although there is a great range of contributions about gamification in educational contexts, both from defenders and from detractors, the scientific community is still divided (Onecha-Pérez, Sanz-Prat & López-Valdés, 2019).

Recently, the educational escape room is gaining prominence in higher education (Eukel & Morrell, 2021). It is a methodological strategy that usually involves a challenge in which students must complete missions, find clues or solve puzzles that lead to a key or a code that is needed to open a lock to leave the room in the game takes place. From this initial approach, other modalities have been developed, such as digital escape rooms (Neumann, Alvarado-Albertorio & Ramírez-Salgado, 2021), or clue games in which the objective is not to escape from a physical room, but to solve a mystery, escape from danger or simply win the game (Macías-Guillén, et al., 2021).

Probably there is still a resistance coming from the most traditional academic sectors to accept a connection between games and learning, not recognizing game-based learning with sufficient rigor when it comes to achieving the learning objectives (Bellotti et al., 2013). In fact, popular opinion and classical literature often suggest that it is one thing to play and quite another to learn, that they should be kept apart as if enjoying were to corrupt the learning process with opposite values to those of rigor, fairness, and discipline. Traditional methodology puts the emphasis on effort as the key of meaningful learning, but fails to take into account that an adequate level of motivation can lead the individual to develop the same effort but without the feeling of suffering that seems irremediably linked to it, following the ‘Flow theory’ of Csíkszentmihályi (1975) within the current of positive psychology. Flow is the state in which the person is absorbed in an activity that completely attracts their attention, fully enjoying it and almost losing track of time, with actions and thoughts perfectly aligned.

It seems as if learning is not carried out through effort and even including a certain amount of suffering, it will not be of sufficient quality.

However, teachers today perceive very different realities in their classes. They discover how a glimpse of fun manages to fully change the mood of a group of students and makes them receptive to new experiences and learning. The game allows you to safely experiment, exploring options and consequences, and join forces in a collaborative effort to achieve a common goal. The game transports us to other moments in history, simulates social interaction and fosters the study of other cultures, perspectives and experiences (Cortizo et al., 2011).

The game facilitates the connection with reality, simulating contexts that seem authentic such as environmental disaster zones that allow learning about natural sciences, foreign countries in order to practice languages, or experiment with real texts to improve literacy. As long as the game is well designed, it offers enormous potential to teach complex thinking skills such as creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, among others. (Murphree &Vafa, 2010).

It is certainly challenging to assess the effectiveness of gamified experiences in supporting long-term skill acquisition and practice. Evaluation itself is a complex process, when it comes to other types of interventions and educational programs, so evaluating a gamified activity, with its own factors and contexts, can become even more so. Despite these challenges, in the last decade, research into gamification in learning has blossomed exponentially.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Learning Experience: Any interaction, course, program, in which learning occurs, regardless of where it takes place.

Escape Room: A room in which people are locked playing a game which requires them to solve a series of puzzles with a time limit in order to find the key to unlock the room.

Innovation: The action or process of making changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.

Self-Assessment: The assessment or evaluation of oneself or one's actions, attitudes, or performance.

BreakOut: A break from a restraining condition or situation, such as an escape from prison, not necessarily physical lockdown.

Active Methodologies: A methodology formed by a set of pedagogical strategies that force students to play an active role in their learning process during classroom activities.

Gamification: The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules) to other areas of activity, such as education.

Online Education: A type of education which is delivered and administered using the internet.

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