Main idea behind innovative VR education module “Knowledge as the only way out” is to create innovative pedagogical approach and methods of teaching, learning and evaluating as well as encouraging educators and students to collaborate and use digital technologies in a creative and effective way.The project idea is unique synergy between teaching materials and “escape room” concept. Escape rooms are having a moment. They’re the No. 1 local activity for a number of cities around the world. Those rooms are simply mental puzzles played out in the real world. Each word-, number- or logic-based challenge in a given escape room, once solved, opens a literal or figurative drawer or door to reveal another important clue. Each solve gets players closer to beating the overall game. In some cities, you escape zombies, while in others, you break out of jail. In our case you escape from the classroom by using latest virtual reality technology. This is of course not the main difference between real world escape rooms and our concept. By using latest virtual reality technology, idea is to place students into a virtual situation where they need to solve a problem related to the specific subject. Students have to put on a VR headset and find themselves in a classroom they need to escape. In order to do that there are a number of puzzles they would have to solve. Puzzles were designed according to the specific subject (geometry, physics, chemistry, geography to name a few) to test students knowledge and learn how to use it in real life.
Students can play in teams in the same virtual scenario and have to find puzzles with specific shapes, build a prism out of them and place it to specific location which refracts the laser beam light pointing to the next task location. In this scenario students have to think out of the box and come to an idea to turn on laser beam first. Next task could be from chemistry area where they have to use water for specific interaction. Without having water in the scene they need to come to solution and build it from two hydrogen atoms bonded to an oxygen atom which can bring physics assignment in the form of a chain reaction game. Possibilities are limitless and scenarios were created by teachers and VR professionals during the short term joint staff training events.
There are many benefits by using such virtual escape rooms. It is mobile and easy to setup system in different places inside school and even outdoor without any problems. Scenarios are limited only by the imagination and can occasionally be upgraded. Students are not sitting but they are physically moving around and doing real moves in unreal environment. Concept does not generate additional costs for required equipment to solve puzzles. You can actually have equipment which does not exists in real world at all. Approach learning by doing is the best way to learn. The escape room does not provide opportunities only in the teaching process, but also in everyday life. Introducing this concept in teaching, students are introduced to the possibilities offered by digital technology and virtual reality. Escape room, besides the adoption of teaching contents, help students develop logical thinking, cognitive abilities, social skills, teamwork, space orientation. Besides this benefits, escape room may also be a career-choice trigger for children in terms of professional orientation towards digital technologies. An escape rooms can be an innovative educational and learning tool that provides a holistic experience for pupils.