Gamifying Online Learning: Lessons Learned Implementing an Escape Room Experience in an Online Asynchronous Course

Concurrent Session 4

Brief Abstract

This interactive session invites participants to experience an escape room-style learning approach implemented in an online, asynchronous graduate course.  Attendees will learn key takeaways to help them develop and implement similar assignments to increase student engagement, provide learners with practical experiences, and develop valuable skills.  


Dan Fisher earned his B.S. in Human Biology from Brigham Young University, his MHA from the University of Memphis, and his Ph.D. in Strategic Management from Sullivan University. He has more than 15 years of experience working in the healthcare industry in operations, finance, service delivery, and project management within hospital systems, long-term care, home health, and corporate wellness. Furthermore, he serves in leadership positions on several nonprofit boards including the Cape Fear Clinic, a charitable clinic with on-site medical, pharmacy, and mental health services that serve uninsured and low-income adults in a multi-county region, and Sandhills Healthcare Executive Forum (SHEF) a local chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), striving to advance healthcare leadership and management excellence throughout southeast North Carolina. Academically, Dr. Fisher has over 7 years of experience developing and teaching undergraduate and graduate-level courses in operations management, quality assessment, health systems, health economics, strategic management, health information technology, long-term care, and healthcare policy both in the classroom and online. His scholarship interests focus on innovational inertia in healthcare, systematic and organizational behaviors, healthcare management, strategy and leadership, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Extended Abstract

 This interactive session, which can be delivered in-person or online, invites participants to experience a new, innovative way to engage students in the learning process while helping them develop key competencies necessary to become highly effective leaders.  Analytical thinking and strategic thinking have long been considered essential skills for leaders in various industries to successfully navigate an ever-changing environment and are critical for leaders to break out of the “we’ve always done it this way” mindset.  Through an escape room-style learning approach, instructors can review important course material while giving students the opportunity to work either individually or in teams to solve challenging problems while developing key competencies. 

This session is relevant to academic leaders and faculty teaching undergraduate and graduate students preparing to become future leaders.  The techniques discussed and practiced in this session can help faculty engage students through innovative learning methods as they develop key competencies necessary to succeed in the workforce.

As for interactivity, due to time limitations for this presentation (only 45 minutes), attendees won’t be able to complete an entire escape room experience; however, the presenter plans to incorporate a section of the escape room experience provided to students in an online course.  Attendees need to come prepared to critically analyze and solve challenging business-case “puzzles” to escape the presentation.  The key focus for this exercise is for attendees to get a glimpse of and gain insights into the student experience.

Then, the presentation will provide key takeaways learned in implementing the activity in a live online, asynchronous graduate course, including feedback from students.  The expectation is that all attendees will 1) learn new, innovative techniques to use in an online teaching modality; 2) engage in an escape-room-style demonstration that encourages students to analytically approach various situations; 3) identify strategies to encourage students to critically think of new ways to solve problems; and 4) identify key insights to improve the gaming process and enhance the learning experience.