Tom Mullaney on Digital BreakoutEDU
It’s time to pique student interest with novel online puzzles!
Building Digital BreakoutEDU Templates
Tom Mullaney is a Digital Learning Coach at Gravelly Hill Middle School in North Carolina who creates online puzzles called Digital BreakoutEDU’s. BreakoutEDU boxes have become a creative new game in the educational world. Tom is one of the new innovators with these puzzles who brings them into a digital form. These activities encourage fun problem solving and engagement with students, teachers, or just about any other group. BreakoutEDU are educational escape rooms in a box that can be used to teach a lesson or concept to a group.
This year, educators Justin Birckbichler and Mari Venturino started making digital versions of these escape rooms and called them Digital BreakoutEDU. When Tom experienced playing Justin and Mari’s Breakouts, he knew he needed to start creating these games for his students. He collaborated with his co-teachers to make a number of Breakouts, his being focused primarily on History. Tom also recently made a Breakout template to help other educators make their own Digital Breakouts with ease.
Comparing the BreakoutEDU and the Digital Version
When asked about the difference of the physical BreakoutEDU and its Digital version, Tom highlighted some vital points.
Time. The first Breakouts developed by Justin and Mari must be finished in 45 minutes, like the original BreakoutEDU. However, Tom said that Digital Breakouts can have shorter or longer timers depending on the creator.
Locks. The locks in the Digital Breakouts are in Google forms with enabled feature on data validation. Educators may also use other platforms such as Wix. This can make life easier for educators since they don’t need to restore the locks before playing it again, like in physical Breakouts.
Number of players. BreakoutEDU was originally played in groups. The Digital Breakouts can be solved by group, by tandem, or even individually.
A New Idea
Since the Digital BreakoutEDU is a very new tool for teaching, it is still in beta mode. Though the Digital Breakouts are working well, more trials and experimentation must be done to improve the process. Thus, creators must encourage their co-teachers and students to use the Breakouts frequently to see which parts need necessary enhancements.
Digital BreakoutEDU’s engage students in a new and exciting way. They teach kids to fall in love with problem solving. When they get outside the school walls, the skills they learn will help students overcome many more of life’s obstacles and challenges.
Helpful links and resources related to this interview:
Tom’s website, Sustainable Teaching: https://tommullaney.com/
Tom’s Twitter: @TomEMullaney
Tom’s DigitalBreakoutEDU activities: https://sites.google.com/view/tomsdigitalbreakouts
Digital Breakout Templates and Instructions: