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Engaging Icebreakers To Do in Online Class

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Even before the pandemic, recent studies have shown that the longer you are exposed to smart devices and screens, the higher your stress and burnout levels would be. With the current learning environment, students are more likely to feel less engaged in an online class in contrast to the face-to-face interaction they get in a classroom setup.

An unengaging learning environment? Now that could be a problem!

Engagement plays a significant role in a student’s learning process and their success in the class. Creating an engaging learning space is a step towards establishing a positive learning environment where students are empowered to interact and collaborate with their peers.

As a teacher, it is your responsibility to support and promote meaningful learning interactions with your students.

“How do I do this? How do I make sure engagement is promoted in my class?”

Great question! It is true that promoting engagement in an online class is quite the task, but it is not impossible.

Promoting engagement can start with a simple icebreaker game.

Icebreakers are fun and interactive activities that can be used in different ways — from a simple GTKY to a trivia game after a class discussion. Not only is it fun and creates a relaxing environment for your students, an icebreaker is a good initiative where students can share their ideas, collaborate with other students, and boost productiveness in the class.

There are several icebreaker that you can do in your class and here are some that promotes engagement, communication, and collaboration.

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1. Two Truths and A Lie

Two Truths and a Lie is a fun way for your students to get to know each other more. This icebreaker can also be used in competitive activities such as lesson trivia before or after a lecture — making learning fun and engaging!

How To Do This: (Get-To-Know-You Setup)

  1. Each student must write 2 true and 1 false statements about themselves
  2. Other students will have to vote which statement is false or which statements are true.
  3. Each student will have to share and reveal which statements are true and which statement is false after the class has decided which statement is false from the list.

If used in competitive ways, you may opt out to provide points on every correct answer and the student who gets the most number of correct answers will get a reward in the end.

Online Tools You Can Use: Google Forms, Kahoot, Quizizz

2. Where in the World

This icebreaker allows students to be imaginative and get to know each other in a fun way. Students can share where they’d be if they could be anywhere at the moment and you might even be surprised!

How To Do This:

  1. Each student must pick a place in the world where they’d be if they could be anywhere and post two to three clues about their chosen place.
  2. The rest of the class will have to guess which place the other student has chosen.

This type of game gauges your class’ creativity and imagination in presenting their ideas.

Online Tools You Can Use: Zoom, Google Meet, Teams, Mural, Microsoft Whiteboard, Online Collaborative Whiteboard tool

3. Tell A Story About Something Within Reach

This fun activity encourages imagination and storytelling creativity in the class. Storytelling encourages students to work not only on their ideas but on their communication skills as well.

How To Do This:

  1. Each student will have to share a story about the item they own that is within their reach. It could simply be a mug, a notebook or anything!
  2. Encourage students to come up with a quick story and get creative.
  3. This activity can either be timed or not. You can select random students per day to do the sharing. Better not inform them in advance so they won’t have to prepare and will get as candid as they could be.

Online Tools You Can Use: Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams

4. Three Words Storytelling

Three Words icebreaker is a fun activity that can be used to promote creativity and adaptability in a class. This icebreaker can be done with or without a certain theme to start off the game.

How To Do This:

  1. If there is no provided theme, the class can come up with a random theme that the story will be based on.
  2. Each student must only contribute three (3) words in their turn until everyone gets to contribute to the story.
  3. The game stops if someone contributes less or more than three words to the story.

Online Tools You Can Use: Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams

5. Hopes and Fears

Hopes and Fears can be used to determine the expectations and fears of the class before a new lecture starts. This can be used as a reflection tool for the teachers to assess and align the expectations that students have.

How To Do This:

  1. Depending on the online tool that you’ll be using, you may ask the class to write their hopes first then their fears.
  2. Encourage everyone in the class to submit their hopes and fears
  3. You may start a discussion after the activity and go through the entries that were submitted for the hopes and fears.

Online Tools You Can Use: Microsoft Whiteboard, Google Forms, Mural, Mentimeter


Planning to do some of the listed icebreakers? Great plan!

Keeping a class discussion engaging and interactive gives a higher chance for students to not only succeed in the class but to enjoy the lessons as well. While taking online classes during a pandemic, an engaging icebreaker game can break that sense of isolation, help motivate your students and increase their participation and satisfaction in the class.

To establish a positive learning environment, even the smallest efforts can create a big impact.

As a teacher, your efforts to promote a learning space where students are encouraged to speak their minds, share their ideas and collaborate others does not have to start with a considerable step — it can simply start with an icebreaker activity.


References:

[1] 21 Free fun Icebreakers for Online Teaching and virtual remote teams | Symonds Training (symondsresearch.com)

[2] 21 Social Distance-Friendly and Virtual Icebreakers Students Will Actually Have Fun With (boredteachers.com)

[3] Engagement Matters: Student Perceptions on the Importance of Engagement Strategies in the Online Learning Environment | Martin | Online Learning (onlinelearningconsortium.org)

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