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New Student Orientation:
Virtual Escape Room


Learning Objectives 

This module was designed to (1) make students aware of online and in-person resources available to them and (2) introduce the students to key faculty and staff that they could turn to throughout their program.



Our students are attending engineering and design classes online and in-person, some while also working full time. 


Learning Theory

Gamified Learning Theory was used for this project. Historically, Orientation wasn't always well-attended, and students often thought that there was nothing new to learn by attending. By making it fun and involving points on our leaders board towards division "swag", students were motivated to attend and engage in the activity.


Design Process

I conducted interviews with our academic and student life Subject Matter Experts, and together we developed Personas and sketched out Journey Maps showing the process our students go through, whether arriving on campus for the first time from another country or returning to the same campus that was attended as an undergraduate to now attend graduate classes online. We determined what pieces of information and resources were most important to students at various phases of their graduate school journey, and which would have the largest impact by being included in our Orientation program (versus being included in a later learning experience). Examples of high-impact resources include our Engineering Career Resource Center (helps with preparing for job interviews and finding job opportunities), and an example of information that is important to know from the start would be the requirements for finding a Capstone project prior to your last semester, since this task often starts with securing an internship during the Career Fair at the start of their program. 



Once key resources and information to include were identified, I laid out the framework for the Escape Room game in a storyboard in PowerPoint, including the script and triggers for the game. For this particular project, I was able to re-use some images from our College of Engineering's Flickr page to supplement the images and videos I took and edited myself to highlight various resources and to place clues into the game. The game itself was built up using genially, an online tool for creating interactive content. Video editing was done using Adobe Premier Rush. 


Assessment following the learning module showed that students had reacted positively to the experience, and had learned what resources were available to them and how to access those resources. Anecdotally, when we spoke to students later in their program, they were more likely to have used these resources and less likely to be without a Capstone experience at the end of their program than previous cohorts. Of course, this could be contributed to factors beyond our Orientation, so in future iterations, we will put more focus on improving the evaluation of the program. 

Post-project Reflection

This escape room styled Orientation worked well for our international students and students that were attending school full time, but didn't add as much value for our part-time, online students, so we'll be taking another look at this cohort for future Orientation development. Another opportunity for growth was realizing the importance of the visual aspects of this project. While a lot of time was invested in overall content, the game logistics, and evaluation, less time was committed to double-checking color schemes and game accessibility, which will not be overlooked again in the future. 

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