Mastering the Digital Escape

Learn how to create digital puzzles for your students!

What is a Digital Breakout or Escape?

A digital escape uses the same concept of solving a series of clues to unlock locks as the physical escape room does. However, with a digital escape, there is no need for the equipment. All that is necessary is a device connected to the Internet. Most digital breakouts will function better on a notebook computer rather than a phone, although some puzzles are easier to solve using a phone or tablet. The best thing about digital escape puzzles? There is relatively NO cost to putting one together!

HSJA Student-Created Digital Escapes

One of my favorite projects with students this year was collaborating with Mrs. Hamilton's classes to help them create digital breakouts related to books they had read. Mrs. Hamilton asked me to pull books related to WWII from my shelves for students to checkout and read. She wanted them to create something related to the book, but not do the typical book report. It was a challenge! Students had to attempt to solve each other's digital breakouts once they were completed. You can check out some of their digital breakouts with the links below.

Ready for the challenge? The best way to learn what a digital escape is is to experience it for yourself.

Let's Do This! Creating Your Own Digital Breakout Step-by-step

Instructions for Creating a Digital Breakout

  1. Your breakout needs to be "housed" in a particular place. You can use a variety of tools to create a webpage to house your breakout including Weebly, Google Sites, and even a Google Doc that is saved as an html file and made public.
  2. If you want to use Smore to create your digital breakout, you can go to https://www.smore.com/students and sign into the TCEA Classroom with the code AV244191, or you can go to Smore and create your own account. This classroom account is associated with a premium account, so you have a few more options under it. Then you can create a new flyer. Consider your subject and try to customize your Smore to "fit" it.
  3. The first step will be creating your flyer and establishing the scenario. Create a scenario to go with your breakout. Be creative. Many breakouts are created around holidays, the start of school or summer break. Subject area breakouts are a great engaging way to introduce or review a unit.
  4. Next, you will create your locked Google Form and embed it in your flyer. Click on this link to open a copy of the Google Lock Form. Rename it. Don't worry about completing the form right now, just make a copy and embed it and you will be able to edit it later.
  5. Remember, you want to make your digital breakout challenging but NOT so frustrating that your participants give up and quit. You CAN hide clues in your locked form and in your flyer.
  6. Determine the series of clues or puzzles that you will provide in your escape to lead participants to the correct answer for the questions on the locked Google Form. Insert these into your breakout.
  7. Rubric used with students. Want a copy?

Creating Puzzles

  1. Digital Breakout Links to Visual Puzzle Sites
  2. Be sure to include at least one red herring to throw off your participants.

Examples of Visual Clues

Examples of Online Activities

A Word of Caution

  1. Test out the different puzzle sites for your school. Some may be blocked by filters.
  2. Consider the time allowed to solve the puzzle when determining the level of difficulty.
  3. Challenge but don't frustrate to the level that participants give up and quit.
Evaluation Form

Please help me improve! I would love to know if this session was helpful (or not). Thank you!