Room2Educ8: A Conceptual Framework for Designing Educational Escape Rooms
Keywords:educational escape room, game-based learning, gamification, design thinking, conceptual framework, escape room
Despite being a relatively new concept, escape rooms are used in academia as learning and collaborative tools. Research findings have established that educational escape rooms (EERs) can create immersion as they combine the strengths of storytelling and gameplay, therefore eliciting high motivation and engagement and so promoting successful learning. Yet evidence demonstrates that there is little consistency in the approaches adopted in this emerging field. A major obstacle faced by educators is the lack of practical design frameworks for EERs. To address this, we propose Room2Educ8, a user-centred conceptual framework based on Design Thinking principles to operationalise the development of EERs. This framework provides heuristics for empathising with learners, defining learning objectives and constraints, adding narrative, designing puzzles, briefing and debriefing participants, prototyping and playtesting, documenting the whole process, and evaluating the escape room experience. It delivers an easy-to-follow guideline that can be adopted and adapted in various learning contexts to create immersive learning experiences. Room2Educ8’s prescribed nature makes it also approachable for commercial escape room designers who consider moving into Serious games territory. To validate the integrity and use of the proposed framework, 104 participants with no prior experience in EER design used Room2Educ8 from 2018 to 2022 to develop 26 EERs. Feedback was obtained through a combination of surveys and focus groups. The framework validation suggests that Room2Educ8 can be proposed as a valid tool for EER design. Participants found the framework very detailed, with clear and understandable steps that were easy to follow regardless of lack of prior experience in EER design. It can be used to develop a wide range of EER types covering different topics and allows designers to get a deeper understanding of the people they are designing for.