Can you escape data? Fostering data literacy in European adult education

by Petros Lameras, Coventry University, UK.

Data literacy for Citizenship

Data is all around us – in our personal and professional lives. We both provide and use data constantly, when messaging to our friends and family, when searching for the best restaurant to go to or when booking a train ticket online. Against this background of an increasingly datafied society, understanding data, acting on data and engaging through data are vital skills for any individual citizen in Europe and beyond.

How can individuals be more data literate? What can be done to increase this specific form of literacy that has overlaps with media literacy and information literacy but is distinct nonetheless?

Taking up this challenge and aiming to provide resources for playfully learning about data and data literacy, the Erasmus+ project “Data Literacy for Citizenship (DaLi)” develops a number of mini-games, escape boxes and a board game. Their creation is based on the holistic model for game-based learning design of the GameChangers initiative (, with DaLi employing a co-creative approach throughout the development, pilot and implementation phase.

Game development based on the GameChangers Approach

The GameChangers approach to designing games  harnesses the power of creative thinking towards solving real challenges, topics or issues inspired by games. The aim is to make game design processes more accessible to anyone with different literacies in game playing for accommodating the design of game-based experiences suited for a plethora of target audiences. The first stage of the Game Design process, as perpetuated by the GameChangers approach, is to: (a) understand the needs, context, and audience; (b) getting inspired by existing play and game play; (c) map the needs and goals to the mechanics and strategy; (d) design the game plan; and (e) pitch your game plan. The approach is agile, iterative and incremental as a means to be used and reused depending on the subject, the context and the needs of the stakeholders.   

What does a DaLi game look like: The DaLi Password Escape Room

The Dali Password Escape Room encourages players to go through a series of puzzles to uncover a code sentence, once spoken this sentence will open the vault leaving the players free to take their plunder and escape. A series of puzzles, crosswords, word alignment, word grids, Bonza Puzzles, Viganere Code, Pictures and Colours, Missing Vowels and the Rebus comprise the playful tasks that players need to be engaged with for solving the code sentence. The backstory immerses players to solve the mystery through the following scenario:

My employer, who wishes to remain anonymous, has brought you together today because you each have a very unique set of skills which will, possibly, allow you to help us pull off the heist of the century.

Some of you may have heard of the billionaire technology magnet Bill Jobsmusk, the CEO of SmallFruit, creator of the Doors Operating System, designer of the SmallFruit aPhone, and owner of SpaceZee. What you won’t have heard is that Mr. Jobsmusk keeps a reported $50,000,000 in bearer bonds in a security vault located within his penthouse suite atop the Nakatonka Plaza building. The only way into this vault is to input a series of codewords that form a sentence, a code sentence if you will. The bad news is that only Mr. Jobsmusk knows what this sentence is. However, there is some good news! Whilst Mr. Jobsmusk is obviously very tech savvy and would never give any clues to his passwords online, he did need a way to store his passwords in order to remember them. Mr. Jobsmusk therefore hid his passwords in a series of puzzles. We have managed to obtain these puzzles and have copies of them here today. We’re hoping that over the next 45 minutes you will be able to solve these puzzles, decipher the passwords and work out what the sentence we need is, we can then send them on to our team who are at this very minute on their way to Mr. Jobsmusk’s penthouse. Of course, if you fail our team may very well be captured by Mr. Jobsmusk’s security team giving the game away for everyone.

So, to recap, you need to solve the puzzles contained within the files and determine what the passwords to Mr. Jobsmusk’s vault are. We have a team waiting on you, they will be hitting the vault in little over 45 minutes and need those words to gain access. Any questions? No? Then it’s time to get going…’. 

Figure 1 Finding the right words

The Dali Password Escape Room, Created by Coventry University

Figure 2 Putting together the escape

Connect with DaLi

The project consortium consists of the University of Bergen (Norway), University of Murcia and University of the Balearic Island (both in Spain), Coventry University (United Kingdom) and Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (Germany).

DaLi aims to connect with the adult education community and contribute to data literacy through said approaches. Therefore, checking on the project website and following DaLi on Twitter @DaLi_Citizens are the best ways to connect and follow project updates.

The project “Data literacy for citizenship” is funded under the grant agreement 2020-1-NO01-KA204-076492 by the European Commission. The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


Petros Lameras, Coventry University, UK