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SleuthIT – Literacy adventure games with a real-world twist

Last updated:
23rd January 2020

Readers of a certain age might be familiar with the concept of PC adventure games, wherein you control an onscreen avatar that’s required to unravel clues, solve puzzles and ultimately unearth the answer to some overarching mystery.

The games produced by SleuthIT are essentially adventure games retooled to help teach literacy. There are 11 games in the company’s line-up, aimed at ages 6 to 16, each containing elements that former Secret of Monkey Island and Myst aficionados might recognise, while also taking cues from more modern phenomena, including mobile games and escape rooms.

SleuthIT’s games, or ‘cases’, are issued in collections, with each game designed to take around 10 weeks to complete, and come supplied with an accompanying USB drive containing a selection of teaching resources, including dossiers on in-game characters and written clues encountered in-game, such as newspaper articles. The games themselves are played via a mobile devices through the SleuthIT app for iOS and Android (and soon Chromebook), without the need for an online connection.

There’s also a neat real-world twist. The SleuthIT package comes supplied with ‘iBeacons’ – small handheld devices that teachers can place in certain locations around the school – the library, say, or another classroom – and use to wirelessly trigger events in the case the pupils are following. Those might include the discovery of hieroglyphics on one location, the appearance of a document able to translate them in another location, and so on.

SleuthIT is the brainchild of Apple Distinguished Educator Joe Moretti (pictured), who explains that its main purpose is to “Encourage students to want to read. Often they’ll speak well, have great vocabulary, frequently watch YouTube – but as soon as they engage with text, they meet a barrier. I saw that we needed something that could both engage students in wanting to read and in using their iPads effectively.”

Those interested in finding out more should head over to the SleuthIT website, or download the free app from the App Store or Google Play, which provides access to SleuthIT lesson plans and enables schools to take it for a test drive.