By Rob Higson – Learning Technologist (Curriculum Development)
A significant challenge for any new cohort is quickly creating an environment in which students can socialise and engage with each other academically. In the blended learning environment this includes online and on-campus spaces, with students able to transition socially between both, building on opportunities to interact.
Purposely facilitating academic socialisation as early as possible within a semester can help set the tone and expectations for a cohort for the rest of a module. The first ‘ice-breaker’ activity is a great way to get students to immediately participate during a live session, or within an online space.
During the summer of 2020, the ‘Off-Campus Digital Learning: Building the Best of Blends’ course contained an activity to explore ice breakers which academics could then use across their own practice to help students begin to interact socially online. This page is a collection of some of those contributions made by colleagues. Many of the ideas will also work in a face-to-face setting and using different, or even no technology. The ideas have been grouped by theme but can be used or adapted to suit individual needs.
- Participants share their name, hometown etc, but then also add something different, for example;
- The meaning of their name
- Photo of a pet they now have, one they used to have, or their ideal pet.
- Use Box of Broadcasts to share a favourite media clip and explain why
- Describe themselves in 3 emojis or images.
- Give the students 15 questions, and the task is to choose one to answer.
- Ask the students to post 3 ‘artefacts’ that tell everyone three different things about them g. one about them as a professional, a personal and their holiday persona. They can be images, logos, song titles, other sounds, references to fragrances, places, hobbies, and so on. They get to write one sentence in which they explain how those three things represent them. Encourage students to comment on each other’s post.
The little-known fact
Participants are asked to share their name, hometown etc and one “little-known fact” about themselves. This “little-known fact” becomes a humanising element for future interactions.
Consider asking for this as a video or audio file, rather than text.
Two truths and a lie
Each participant makes three statements about themselves—two true and one untrue. Other group members try to identify the falsehood.
Participants are paired up and spend 5 minutes interviewing each other. The group reconvenes and the interviewer introduces the interviewee to the group.
Group/Team Building Activities
At the start of the week everyone writes a forum post with a ‘top 5…’ of their choice. For example – top 5 sci-fi movies, top 5 country songs, top 5 ice cream favours, etc. The more variety, the better. Later in the week, everyone comes back to the forum and adds to at least 3 other peoples’ lists. Repeat again at another point in time.
Staff create a table with twelve cells and each cell has a role, activity or attribute (i.e. has a pet, completed a parachute jump, competed in competitive sport, read particular book), where some will be quite common and others less so. Learners are encouraged to contact each other asynchronously and complete the bingo card, perhaps with a competitively element.
Draw or photograph one item on a piece of paper that portrays something (person or object) that is important. Show it to the rest of the class and they have to guess what that identity or importance is.
Course / Subject / Module themes
Select icebreakers that complement the subject or module.
- Ask students to the company they work for/hope to work for and share their LinkedIn profiles or a summary of their CV.
- Find a photo/video of something that relates to the module and ask them to explain why they chose it.
- Identify and share with the discussion board an interesting news article of the week and identify as to why this interests you and how it could be useful to you and others going forward.