By Molly Ledermann, Washtenaw Community College, MiALA CCIG Chair
The Michigan Academic Library Association (MiALA) Community College Interest Group meets virtually every other month to network, problem-solve, discuss hot topics, and learn together. In December, we decided to devote the entire meeting to experiencing a new misinformation escape room from the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public. It is the first of several interactive misinformation games that will be available through Loki’s Loop, a research project of the UW Center for an Informed Public with the UW Technology & Social Change Group, UW GAMER Research Group and Puzzle Break.
Three librarians, Suzanne Bernsten of Lansing Community College, Jen Fiero of Jackson Community College, and Laura Taylor of Macomb Community College, learned how to facilitate the escape room in advance so that they could run the activity for the rest of the librarians. So often as teaching librarians, we only experience learning activities that we have prepared, adapted, or created ourselves. As one of the participants, I can say that it was both fun and eye-opening to go through the escape room from the perspective of a student and have no advance knowledge of what was going to happen next!
The escape room is called “The Euphorigen Investigation.” Participants must investigate claims a company is making about the success of its newest supplement before the government introduces it to the public water supply. Puzzles challenge participants to use their information literacy, data literacy, and self-reflection skills, as they navigate misleading charts, identify deepfake images, reflect on the impact of social media behaviors, and recognize the influence of confirmation bias. The escape room took just under 45 minutes to complete and solving the puzzles was definitely a team effort. We did need an occasional tip from one of the facilitators when we got stuck on the mechanics of manipulating and moving through a specific puzzle.
The escape room can completed online or in-person. Anyone can sign up for an account on the Loki’s Loop website to get access to the Game Host Portal, Game Host Guide, Resource Kit, and Marketing Language.
During our debrief, everyone agreed that the storyline, puzzle construction, and images were outstanding. We discussed how the activity would be great not only for students as part of a class, but also as professional development for faculty or staff. Post-activity discussion could easily be tailored to a specific audience, or highlight particular puzzles in the game. The best part is that the Escape Room is available in both virtual and in-person formats so it isn’t tied to a specific mode of delivery. Everyone left the meeting brimming with excitement and ideas about how they could use the activity in their own institutions.
Time is one of the biggest challenges in a community college library. We all know how many webinars go unwatched, saved links go unclicked, and articles go unread. When we can set aside even a short amount of time to explore together, everyone benefits! Our MiALA Community College Interest Group is already looking forward to exploring more activities and ideas together in the future.