Adam Bellow has filled a number of roles in the education space. He was an edtech administrator, worked at the College Board, founded Educlipper—a “Pinterest for educators”— and just wrapped up a stint at the White House as a Presidential Innovation Fellow. But now, he’s gearing up to add something totally new to his resume.
Announced today, Bellow is officially taking over as CEO of Breakout EDU, an organization that’s attempting to bring gamification to professional development and the classroom at large.
Breakout EDU, founded in 2015 by James Sanders and Mark Hammons, provides kits to schools and districts allowing for immersive gameplay. Specifically, with either a wooden box kit ($119) or a plastic version ($89), a group of individuals has all of the tools required to play one of over 200 games accessed freely on the Breakout EDU website—some developed by the founders, others created by the users themselves. Bellow reports that while some of the games are general interest and “more like pop culture or trivia-type games,” there are many for education, including ones for AP Chemistry, middle school math, and language arts.
Back in 2015, Breakout EDU started as a form of “Escape the Room,” a game form in which groups have to use clues, collaborate, and essentially work their way out of a situation. But now, with the growing collection available to users, Bellow has high hopes for continuing to grow the platform and engage both teachers and kids in a variety of gamified learning environments.
“Kids actually learn how to communicate better—they’re learning from failure, experiencing real perseverance and real experiential learning in the games,” Bellow says. But the kids aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits, he reports: “For teachers, this reawakens a love of taking back some of the creative power and autonomy of the classroom.”
Bellow says that the company has been generating revenue over the past year as a for-profit benefit corporation, and that he plans to vigorously expand the platform’s offerings over the next few years. To kick things off at next week’s ISTE conference, the Breakout EDU team will premiere a new game, created in collaboration with BirdBrain Science, aboard a 40-foot school bus that’s been reconstructed into a mobile “escape room” environment. Additionally, the Breakout EDU team plans to launch a free course on game design this summer for teachers.
As for fans of Educlipper, Bellow reports that he will ensure that the platform (which he reports has currently 335,000 users) stays up and running.