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Break outside the box: Gamification with BreakoutEDU

April 23, 2018

By Dana J Kerrigan, MA, MSLIS 

Are you ready to teach outside of the box?

BreakoutEDU  is an immersive games platform that sparks student engagement and facilitates collaborative team building. It is an open-source project created by James Sanders and Mark Hammons, two educators and leaders in educational technology.

Embracing gamification in education and playing off of today’s popular escape rooms, the idea of BreakoutEDU is for players to “break in” to a box through solving a variety of puzzles in a timed environment.

BreakoutEDU’s kits currently retail for $150 each, which includes one year of platform access to 12 subject packs with nearly 800 already-made games; over a dozen featured digital games are also available. Users can also opt to build their own kits, and users can create their own games.

BreakoutEDU can be used for introducing new concepts, reinforcing concepts, building leadership skills, practicing subject-area skills, reviewing material, etc. The pre-made games are easily customizable as well. Each game includes a variety of puzzles, each tapping into different learning styles and strengths.

The potential benefits of BreakoutEDU are only limited by the imagination of the game facilitator/ game creator. The most prominent benefits can be viewed in this word cloud (image created by Dana Kerrigan via WordArt): Puzzle Word.jpeg

Our campus purchased three kits late in the fall semester, and have been using them successfully across campus in classrooms, orientations, leadership training, etc. with students, faculty, and staff. The themes of each “breakout” session vary, as do the success rates of the teams participating. We follow each session with a debrief, focused on reflection of lessons learned. Lessons are related to content covered, individual contributions, group dynamics, teamwork, etc. Sessions where we have enough participants to have teams compete against each other as well as the ticking clock have proven to be the most fun, as the competition spurs excitement. Regardless of the outcomes, we notice development in the participants’ critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and resilience; through observation we are able to gain a better understanding of how our students think.


(photos courtesy of Dana Kerrigan, Lucy Manley, and Kathleen Farlie, Valley Forge Military College




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