Digital Breakout


BreakoutEDU’s have gained in popularity, and while I’ve considered trying one with my health students, I’ve never got around to doing it. While I tend to look at Mark & Becky Foellmer, and Charlie Rizzuto in the USA as my go-to experts, I’m delighted that Pat Coleman from Tasmania, Australia has provided this week’s blog post detailing how he uses OneNote to create his #healthed BreakOuts.

THIS might be the blog post that you need to convince you to try one of these with your students.

As a Health and Physical Education teacher I enjoy utilizing technologies that increase student engagement. One of my favorite technologies is OneNote, a digital version of the ring binder folder you might have carried around in high school. OneNote has tremendous organizational abilities and the class notebook allows you to keep track of student work and provide real time feedback.

I’m sure many of you would have seen the lock-box activities such as those developed by BreakoutEDU, essentially you need to solve clues to unlock a tool box with a reward. This year I recently stumbled across the concept of a digital lock box or digital breakout using OneNote. The concept is the same as the real world version but you use the clues to find the password for the next section, once unlocked you use the new clues to unlock another section and this process continues until you get to the final section.

Understanding OneNote

OneNote is a versatile tool available across all platforms as a program, app or web-app. In this post I’ll be speaking about using the desktop app as it’s the only platform that allows you to create “password protected section.”

A notebook consists of “sections” – tabs in your ring binder folder and “pages” – pages of information or content within a tab. Sections can be labelled to reflect a chapter or subject and importantly can be password protected.

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If you want to explore more options about how to use OneNote in your classroom check out my post at ConnectedPE, creating a digital textbook

Creating a Digital Breakout

  1. Start by creating a new Notebook. File > New > Select save location > Name


  1. Label the First Section as introduction. Here you will want to include some basic information about the task to try to create some excitement. In my introduction I’ll include some images and text. The text will help to explain how the students can progress from section to section and set the scene for the task.


As you can see from the screen shot this break out places the students in a sexual health clinic. The focus of the task is the student being able to identify symptoms, behaviours or drugs associated with STIs. There is also an explanation of how the password protection works with the first password given to unlock the next section.

  1. Create a new section and label it “room 1.” In room 1 we are going to place a patient. The patient will present with symptoms or provide information to determine a particular STI. The name of the STI will be used to unlock the next room.

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  1. You can repeat step 3 until you have created the number of patients you want your students to diagnose. Try to include some variety and varying levels of complexity.

5. Once you have the number of patients you want your students to diagnose you can set up the final reward room. This can be as simple as a message congratulating them on completing the task or might offer a physical reward or extra credit. Make the decision based on what you feel is best for your students.

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  1. Now you have all your patients in the rooms it’s time to set-up the password protection. Make sure you save your passwords because they can’t be reset if you forget them. Open up room 1 and select “Review” from the Header Ribbon and click on “Password”. This will then open the Password Protection tab and you can select “set password.”

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The password you allocate to this section should be the one you put in the Introduction. In this example it was SexuallyTransmittedInfection . This page is now locked and will require students to enter the password to unlock room 1.

  1. Password protect all rooms. You now need to password protect the remaining rooms. The password for room 2 will be the diagnosis from room 1. So if the scenario in room 1 indicated that the patient has HIV then that will become the password to unlock room 2. You now need to set the remaining passwords for the number of rooms you have set-up. Remember to save them somewhere as once they are set up there is no way to recover them.


Digital break out can be delivered in a 1-to-1 environment across any platform, you just need to create the breakout using the full version of OneNote. Where you don’t have 1-to-1 it can be a great collaborative exercise to have students work together to breakout.

Digital break outs are a great way to engage students in content and develop critical thinking and analysis skills. Tasks are purely limited by your imagination and can even include physical activity and movement.

For more on BreakOuts you can check out the PhysEdSummit session titled Experience Breakout EDU with Mark & Becky Foellmer.


2 thoughts on “Digital Breakout

  1. Pingback: Gamification and Skills-Based Sexual Education – #slowchathealth

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