Escape from the VLE

I’ve been toying with the idea of using our VLE (Blackboard) to build an escape room type activity for sustainable chemistry. We’ve got a session in a computer classroom coming up so this seems like the ideal opportunity to get on with it.

The structure of the escape activity is going to be a series of tasks linked by tests. I will use the adaptive release function on Blackboard so that task 2 only becomes available to a team on satisfactory completion of task 1. Each task will involve some elements of information retrieval, problem solving, puzzle solving and inputing an answer into a Blackboard test.

TasksTopicActivityProgression
1Campus‘Battleships’A sequence of correct grid references given in answer to a series of questions.
2UK
3Europe
4World
ESCAPE!

The rough structure and broad topics are above, I’m still thinking through possible activities. As the other areas of the course are still being finalised, I’m also still working through the purpose of the session. Essentially I’m trying to pull out the more information retrieval elements of a workshop led course and condense them into this session with a strong narrative element that clearly links them all.

So far I have ruled out any video with audio elements because we’ll be in a computer classroom and there may be another class in it, but silent video would be good. I am also considering the size of groups and will probably let students form their own groups (or work individually if that is their preference). The group has to fit around a computer so I think pairs or threes would be easier. When I set work like this, I am generally very flexible about the composition and size of groups to allow people to decide for themselves. (just need to encourage people who would like to work in a group but are reluctant to ask).

Other than that, this is very much a work in progress. I’ve built Bb tests before so am familiar with the question types, and I’m planning it all out on paper as a back up in case of technological mayhem on the day. The ‘paper’ version would be a series of google docs with the tasks and then a marking process. I need a fail-safe option because there is a degree of complexity in setting up this task and while I’ll get someone to test drive it for me, I’d rather have a backup plan. Similarly I’ll try to embed some light touch evaluation into each step so that it can be expanded and enhanced for future years.

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