How to really get to know your students
The new year represents a fresh start. A new semester. New students. And for many, a return to online learning. But as we begin another semester online (either by choice or by force), we think it’s time to lighten things up.
We know that creating an engaging community within your online classroom is tough. And we know that keeping students engaged when learning online is even tougher. But we have an idea that will help you make both just a little bit easier – ice breakers!
Many instructors think of ice breakers as fun, engaging activities that you use to help your students get to know one another at the start of a semester. And while this is a common use for ice breakers, there are more ways you can use ice breakers within your online classroom. Here are just a few.
Ice breakers enable you to build a community within your online classroom. They help students build rapport and foster stronger connections with their classmates. And they help students discover mutual interests and even empathize with others in the class.
Start the semester with “get to know you” ice breakers. These traditional ice breakers are a good way for students to learn more fun facts about their peers and spot others who share similar likes and interests. Questions can be as simple as “are you a dog or cat person?” or “what is your favorite genre of music?” Use capabilities within your video conferencing platform to break students into smaller groups based on their responses to the ice breaker activities. That way, they can connect with other like-minded classmates and feel connected right from the start.
Many instructors think of ice breakers as a tactic you use at the start of a semester – when students are new to the class and each other. But what if you used ice breakers regularly throughout the course? Would it help energize the class? Promote active learning? Or keep students engaged? The answer is a resounding “yes!”
Consider starting each week with a different ice breaker before jumping into the course content. It could be as simple as “do you prefer coffee or tea” or “did you do something fun outside this weekend.” Just a short activity to warm-up, engage students, and help them get to know one another a little bit better every week.
Foster Active Learning
Many institutions and instructors are looking for ways to introduce active learning into their online classrooms. Ice breakers provide creative and fun ways to engage students in the learning process. They allow students to engage their brain in different ways, helping them to connect new and old information and apply it to their everyday lives.
Use ice breakers as a way to reinforce concepts in your course. Connect the ice breaker activity to something the students already learned, as it will help them better retain and apply this knowledge both in the course and beyond.
As you can see, ice breakers are a great way to inject fun and whimsy into your online course, regardless of what video conferencing platform you use. But with InSpace, the experience with ice breakers is even better.
Because InSpace allows students to move freely around the room, ice breakers become more fun and engaging. Students can easily move from conversation to conversation, getting to their peers in a deeper, more personal way. And because InSpace uses proximity-based audio, their conversations stay between them – not broadcast to the entire classroom.
So as you kick off this semester’s online classes, consider how you can use ice breakers to build community and keep students engaged. And if you need some new ideas based on examples from InSpace customers, remember to download our ice breaker guide!