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Educational Escape rooms are game-based environments that may involve students of all school orders in engaging learning experiences. COVID-19 pandemic has increased the proliferation of escape rooms in a digital format whose use appeared meaningful for their generative effects on knowledge acquisition and on 21st century skills development. Nevertheless, the design of educational escape rooms is an essential process requiring a deep knowledge of both game design principles and learning design approaches. Moreover, teachers and educators willing to design and to experiment escape rooms with their students need to know how to connect these principles belonging to apparently distant fields and to balance them, to make these learning environments effective from an educational point of view and, at the same time, highly and intrinsically motivating.
The aim of this contribution is to focus on the design related aspects of educational digital escape rooms, providing a pedagogical foundation and discussing implications for learning. A Design-Based Research (DBR) has been conducted, involving two cohorts of undergraduate students who attended the Game-based learning course in the last two academic years. The educational escape rooms designed by them in the two editions of the course, corresponding to two iterations of a DBR cycle, were compared to investigate if the progressive enhancement of the design approach has affected the quality of the realized educational escape rooms.
From evaluation of DEERs designed by students a taxonomy was derived that, listing the main design characteristics for the development of DEERs, can be used as a tool...
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