The escape room comes to the classroom.

That is a teaching concept developed by colleagues and adapted by Marcus Fowler that earned him the eLearning Educator of the Year Award from the eLearning Consortium of Colorado.

Emphasis on Information and Technology Literacy

Marcus teaches humanities at the Boulder County Campus of Front Range Community College. He was honored for his emphasis on information and technology literacy in his classes. You might think information and technology literacy would be applied in science classrooms, not humanities, In today’s world, however, information and technology literacy is a key to success in any field. At FRCC, it is one of five key skills students need to thrive in life. We call these skills learning outcomes.

“I really try to enhance that learning outcome,” Marcus says. This particular skill is developed through the active participation of students.

Technology can be applied in what seem like the unlikeliest of classes. For example, Marcus has adapted the escape room for English and literature classes to study “Fahrenheit 451.” The assignment is to avoid the mechanical hound and find members of the Resistance.

A Critical Look at Technology

The college Information and Technology Literacy team headed by Kae Novak and Krystan Grant first developed a science-oriented escape room. Marcus has students work in teams to find solutions to a series of problems, but unlike commercial escape rooms that prohibit the use of mobile devices and technology, his students can use any technology. And in using technology, they discover the uses and abuses of it.

Part of the assignment is to assess critically where they find their information and what technology they use. Students use library databases, social media, and websites. The students have to analyze and evaluate each platform and technology for credibility and for how the technology design might be influencing it.

Storytelling and Learning

He also uses storytelling to assess information and technology literacy. He has his students research and create storytelling and role-playing projects with technology. He developed a game-based learning approach to having his students create their own worlds and civilizations. His students do their work using any technology available.

He has shared his storytelling techniques and the adaptation of the escape room for humanities with fellow faculty and instructors from all over Colorado.

Technology to Study Ancient History

Marcus also can use his academic background and interest in ancient history to apply assignments to different parts in the heroic cycle of the Gilgamesh epic from the second millennium BC. Marcus’s bachelor’s degree is in history with a minor in ancient history from Penn State; his master’s is in humanities with a focus on ancient history from Arcadia University.

He also is planning activities that combine humanities with microbiology for an Ancient Egypt Microbiology Murder Mystery where students from all over can collaborate synchronously using voice over internet protocols (VOIP), livestreaming, and mobile apps to solve the murder mystery.

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