2022 VCS Scenario & Guidelines
The staff members sat around the large conference table in the Dean of Students suite. A continental breakfast of assorted pastries, coffee, and tea was set off to the side. “Do you know why we’re here?” asked Tiffany Cheng, a member of the residence life staff who was about to begin her third year at the school.
“No idea,” replied Andrew Carter, an advisor to the Student Government, also beginning his third year on staff.
“I didn’t have breakfast so if you don’t mind I’m going to help myself to a danish and coffee,” said Javier Santiago, an academic advisor. “And, no, I don’t know why we’ve all been called here.”
“Don’t look at me,” said Melissa Akuffo, a student affairs intern in the Office of Career Development. “I’m in the dark like the rest of you.” As soon as she finished her words, Dr. Hannah Lynch, Dean of Students at Kingsford College, walked in along with an unfamiliar man.
“Thank you for joining me this morning,” Dean Lynch remarked. “Please, please help yourself to breakfast. I’m going to get a cup of coffee and then we can start. Once the group had served themselves and were reseated, Dean Lynch began the meeting.
“Over the past few years,” she began, “it has been harder to adequately communicate with students about a wide-range of campus issues and policies. We used to be able to rely on direct email and the campus listserv, but we’re finding those options to be ineffective and the school website is a mess.”
“What about sending out text messages?” asked Javier.
“I agree with Javier,” said Melissa Akuffo. “Students are always checking their texts.”
“Like you?” smiled Andrew Carter.
“Texting to the whole student body can get expensive,” said the Dean. “We need something new, different that might pique their interest.”
“Are you looking for suggestions?” asked Javier Santiago.
“Normally, the answer would be yes,” replied the senior student affairs administrator. “But to answer your question, let me introduce Dr. Stuart Brown, the founder of the website StudentAffairs.com.” The heads of everyone nodded in acknowledgement. “Dr. Brown…”
“Please, Stu,” he said.
“Stu,” Dr. Lynch said slowly, “has had his pulse on new trends in student affairs for just about 25 years. He gave a presentation at last year’s NASPA National that I thought was unique and might be something we could replicate here to help with our problem. Stu, can you take it from here?”
“Good morning everyone,” he started. “I want to thank Dean Lynch for inviting me here to talk about Virtual Escape Rooms.” The staff members perked up, but had baffled looks on their faces. Brown took a sip of his coffee and then began an explanation. “I think most of you probably know what an Escape Room is.”
“Pre-Covid we had a Student Activities sponsored trip to one downtown,” said Andrew Carter. “They had a lot of fun. It was tricky and sometimes frustrating, but I think the students enjoyed the experience.”
“Good, good,” said Brown. “A Virtual Escape Room is very similar. You just do everything on your computer. Like its physical counterpart, the Virtual Escape Room includes hidden clues, puzzles and brain teasers. By solving the codes you unlock the secrets to rooms.”
Melissa Akuffo raised her hand. “That sounds like fun, but how does that help us with the problem outlined by Dean Lynch?”
“Excellent question. Ten points for Gryffindor.” Again, baffled looks. “Sorry, I should have learned by now not to try a Harry Potter reference.” He smiled. “Each part of the Escape Room can have a theme or topic. For example, let’s say you want to impart information about campus mental health to the students. You could have the clues and ciphers all relate to that subject. They would be learning, while also having fun,”
“So, we could have a Virtual Escape Room about things that go on in a residence hall?” asked Tiffany Cheng.“Or how to conduct a job search?” added Melissa Akuffo.
“Exactly,” said the head of StudentAffairs.com. “Anything you can think of that is important for students to know. What Dean Lynch wants this group to work on are the components needed to construct a Virtual Escape Room.”
“Dr. Brown,” began Andrew Carter, “I understand the concept of a Virtual Escape Room, but I have no idea what needs to be done.” All of the other staff members nodded in agreement.
“That’s why I’m here,” Brown said. “We’re going to meet tomorrow morning. Maybe I can convince the Dean to provide a real breakfast.” He looked over and smiled at the Dean. “At that point, we’ll go over the nuts and bolts. Your homework is to review an instructional YouTube video a colleague, Dr. Peggy Holzweiss, a faculty member in the Department of Educational Leadership at Sam Houston State University, put together. It’s a great primer on developing a Virtual Escape Room. We also collaborated on a Room for StudentAffairs.com and on my own I have created a few for my online Broadway radio station. I’ll give you those links too. That should give you a good background before we start. Questions?
Your team assignment is to create the elements of two Virtual Escape Rooms:
- What is the subject area you want to convey to students with your Room?
- Choose a picture for each Room (you can search either through Google Docs or Google images).
- Come up with 5 objects for the Room which, when clicked on, will reveal a clue or puzzle.
- Create a Google Slide that will appear under each Room object.
OTHER POINTS TO CONSIDER:
- Four of the slides will have a clue.
- A slide could just have text and a picture.
- A slide could have a link to a website.
- A slide could have a puzzle to solve.
- The 5th slide will have the cumulative key/puzzle.
- On the videos and example Virtual Escape Rooms there are examples of puzzles.
- A puzzle could be solving a math question.
- Look at how to incorporate a jigsaw puzzle at jigsawplanet.com
- Puzzlemaker has a lot of great puzzles
- How To Create a Virtual Escape Room (youtube)
- StudentAffairs.com Virtual Escape Rooms
- Sounds of Broadway Virtual Escape Rooms (you only need to review one of them)
Here is how you put the information together:
- You need to have or create an account on Google Drive.
- Create a folder - call it VCS - Your School.Team Leader. All your documents will be stored in this folder.
- Share your folder. Here are instructions as a guide.
- Create a Word or PowerPoint file that explains your Virtual Escape Room to the judges.
- This PDF file explains how to "Share your Folder “
INSTRUCTIONS TO THE JUDGES
The Submission Guidelines asked for teams to come up with two Escape Rooms and the components needed for each Room. They were also required to have an Explanation document.
Teams approached this in two ways:
- They put together a Google Form with all the components of the Escape Room where judges could scroll through to see what is there. With this method, there are no links, it is not interactive.
- Some teams created a functioning Escape Room where you can link on clues and puzzles.
- Both methods are acceptable. The overall construction and presentation are the keys.
When you maneuver among the folders, remember to use the BREADCRUMB method to go back and forth between folders and files.
So, what are you looking for? Here is what to consider:
When you open a folder the best place to start is the purple Google Form. That will usually have the whole Escape Room laid out. It may or may not be interactive.
Content of individual slides/clues
- Is there enough information there?
- Too much information on slides?
- Are there enough supporting components like graphics and puzzles?
- Is it too complicated?
- Amount of material is too dense to get through?
- Are there too many slides that introduce the Escape Rooms?
- How easy is it to locate the hidden clues (if an interactive Escape Room)?
- How are the visuals?
- Font style and size?
- The overall aesthetics?
- Are there puzzles?
- Do you think they are too involved?
- Are there directions for what users need to do?
- Are there directions on where users go after completing a puzzle?
- Does it seem sufficient to explain the team’s Escape Rooms?
- Is it overdone?