The session was great, as you can see above in the video segment IAEE TV did on the session! Awesome participation and some really interesting decompression discussion afterwards. I asked groups what was easy and what was hard, and that's where the title quote came from. One participant said "At first it was hard, then it was easy." Isn't that perfect? That's what ALL education feels like. That's what all group communication things feel like, from small groups and teams up to whole conferences!
In response to their comments, I am developing ideas for a conference-wide escape/puzzle experience as well as either exhibit room wide or individual exhibitor experiences that would bridge the gap and enable more fun conversations in those spaces, which often live in between "Hey, don't take my pens/candy/logo merch without talking to me; I'm sitting right here!" and "Seriously, I can't do this right now; stop pressuring me to give you my email for a pencil." A few more ideas are percolating as a result of those conversations, so stay tuned.
- Have a clear learning objective. Tactile, puzzle-based learning is some of the best learning we have. Use these opportunities to get participants involved in interesting ideas.
- Create a takeaway text. Well, just like this one, really. They should have a bit of something to read and explore.
- Build a quiz or two online. Using Google Forms or some other service, make them use their knowledge of the takeaway text to finish a quiz which gives them a clue.
- Think Russian dolls. Nest layers inside each other. Each layer is locked, but it should take some thinking to get through it.
- Delay gratification. Key locks have keys hidden in the outer layers of the box structure that you can only use later. Combination locks work the same, with clues hidden in plain sight (like cards, books or thematic artifacts), as outputs from your quizzes, or with tricks (code, invisible ink they get a blacklight for later, etc.)
- Map it out! Have one structure for all of the boxes, even if the theme of each (carry-on, briefcase, tackle box) changes, so you can help them when they get stuck. Put that map on paper or spreadsheet so you know what opens what lock. Because they will get stuck and text you. And you want to be confident about your answer.
And now for the templates. The idea is that a column is a level of the box, a sense of what is accessible at any given time in the experience. A row delves into subsequent levels and what is inside. Although these are small boxes, if you've ever done a big escape room, you will see the similarity in structure in the levels of puzzle. So this should provide a reasonable guide to scaling this kind of project [or, you know, hint, hint, you can always hire me to do it for you :) ]. Good luck, and please send me any questions you might have if you are ready to try this yourself.