SPICE Escape Room Game Research at the European Conference on Games-Based Learning

October 6, 2019

During the 13th Annual European Conference on Games-Based Learning (ECGBL) on October 3 and 4, 2019, Luddy’s Security & Privacy in Informatics, Computing, and Engineering (SPICE) Center project manager, Joshua Streiff presented a research poster and chaired a breakout session on escape room gaming.  The poster, based on the working paper, Escaping to Cybersecurity Education: Using Manipulative Challenges to Engage and Educate, was co-written with Professor L. Jean Camp (SPICE),  and Clinical Associate Professor Connie Justice (IUPUI) and on escape room gaming as a mode for cybersecurity education. The breakout session was entitled, “Simulations.” 

The ECGBL conference provides scholars and practitioners interested in the issues related to game-based learning (GBL) the chance to share their thinking and research findings. GBL is a dynamic way to engage learners and help educators assess learning through repetition, failure and the accomplishment of goals. The event was hosted by The University of Southern Denmark, in the city of Odense. The University is a leader in sport and health research, as well as in robotics, AI, and drone research.

As GBL develops, so do the ways in which such education and training is delivered, implemented, and reformed for best practice. Inspired by technology, pedagogy, and social and ethical issues, the conference keynote speeches emphasized mixed reality learning, STEM teaching, and movement games.

The premise “Escaping to Cybersecurity” is the design of a modular educational system to engage young students on specific educational topics within cybersecurity. The objective is to design a modular educational system that could be implemented in schools for grades 7 and up.  It is also hoped that the modules will help to address the issue of students who self-select out of cybersecurity career paths.

Streiff, Camp, and Justice designed escape room challenges designed to teach technical skills in an easily understood and affordably scalable manner. Modules covering wireless networking, embedded systems, and understanding threat modeling rely on “problem-solving skills, creative thinking, and use of project-based pedagogical models to provide student teams with short lessons and related practical challenges to solve.”

The initial observations in the research have demonstrated positive and effective engagement from both students and educators. The escape room concept physically connects students to the challenges, makes security concepts more concrete, and offers shared learning.

The researchers plan to continue the development and testing of expanded challenge modules in order to engage non-traditional students. The piloted activities are being expanded and incorporated into a portable game that can be taken to schools or be used in other ways. 

ECGBL 13 was hosted by both the Maersk Mc-Kinney Møller Institute and the Department of Sport Science and Clinical Biomechanics. The former specializes in game-based learning, mixed realities, educational technology, physical digital design, while the latter deals with research and innovation in studies of the human body, active living, health, and in digital design in human movement. ECGBL is typically attended by participants representing over 40 countries and attracts a unique combination of academic scholars, practitioners, game designers and individuals who are engaged in various aspects of games-based learning. Among other journals, the Electronic Journal of e-Learning publishes a special edition of the best papers presented at this conference.