The coolest use yet? Librarians are turning Google Forms into virtual escape rooms
With libraries having to stay shut thanks to the pandemic, librarians turned to Google Forms to turn physical escape rooms in to virtual ones so as everyone could keep learning.
It all started with a Harry Potter-themed digital escape room created on Google forms by librarian Sydney Krawiec. Krawiec turned to Google Forms when the Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, Pennsylvania, where she works, had to close its doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The library was all set to unveil a superhero-themed escape room.
The Harry Potter-themed game Krawiec made had participants navigating their way through a series of challenges based on themes and locations from the books. To move forward you would have to solve puzzles.
The Google Form went viral. And once other librarians saw it, they started making their own.
And now, these virtual escape rooms have become something for people to do while they are stuck at home with these digital challenges becoming tools for teaching, homeschooling for the parents and also staff development and team building for the librarians.
These virtual escape rooms are no cakewalk mind you, they have puzzles based on math equations and simple logic and even digital jigsaws. There are descriptions telling you the story of what you see from room to room as you move along and the format is pretty simple. The page will usually have a photo or a video along with a description with instructions followed by a question. If you can answer it right you move ahead. Or you move a step back and try again.
Escape Rooms are popular and most of the librarians making these Google Forms were actually in charge of making and hosting physical escape rooms for kids and adults. By playing these games users are working on their problem solving and reading/comprehension skills and in many cases the puzzles involve geography or math. It's fun and it also sneaks learning in.
You can check out some of these virtual escape rooms based on ancient Egypt, space, Marvel superheroes, Star Wars, Jurassic World.
These activities are perfect for teachers to get students interested in different subjects and often these Google Forms serve as a starting point for students to learn more through links given for additional information and some also involve a bit of Googling to help students learn research skills.
These forms are also being used to inspire kids to read, like an escape room based on fairy tales and another on the Percy Jackson series.
While these forms are working great and are going viral, there are some obvious drawbacks. For example, Google Forms do not save your progress. So if you close the tab by mistake or navigate away from the form, you will have to start all over again. And since puzzles are often based on pictures, these escape room are not accessible to the visually impaired.
Krawiec and Brooke Windsor, a librarian at Richmond Hill Public Library in Ontario, the one who has made the Star Wars and Marvel-themed escape rooms, say that they are working with instructors who teach visually impaired students to come up with more accessible versions of their virtual escape rooms.
Taking a ‘form' out of these librarians' books are people like Dave Murphy who is a radio producer from the UK. Murphy has made his own digital escape room business and charges £8.99 for each game ( ₹850 approx).
Journalist and student Cordelia Hsu saw Krawiec's challenge and put together her own Harry Potter Google Form escape room with her friend James Irvine. Hsu and Irvine held a competition among Quidditch groups in Australia to see who could complete their game the fastest. This caught the attention of teams in Germany and the United States.
The idea was to get a community together and to learn. And it seems to be working.
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