Ice-breaking games offer the learners the opportunity to present themselves, share previous experience and get to know each other. This makes them a good way for creating a sense of community which consequently leads to teamwork. Ice-breakers are used at the very beginning of the learning session to make students to leave behind everything external to the work that is to follow. These games are devised and built together with the teacher with the idea of entertainment and humour. In an audience where participants know each other well, ice-breakers can be used to initiate discussions, share additional learning material on the topic, discuss completion of tasks set in advance in previous sessions, and update concepts. Ice-breakers are recommended at the interest-triggering stage, too.
Strategies for implementation in VEDAMO Virtual Classroom
Ice-breakers are of exceptional importance as a method in an online learning environment especially because they compensate the computer-mediated communication by building up a sense of community and shared space. On the other hand, in the virtual environment emotional and psychological barriers between participants disappear much faster due to the comfort of participation in a familiar and safe physical environment.
In VEDAMO Virtual Classroom ice-breakers can be done in a fun and flexible way by using the possibilities of the platform for an easy and quick sharing of visual, audio and video materials. For instance, participants can easily share their photos or a favourite song without having to copy or multiply photos or download and transfer music on an external device.
These are at first glance trifling details, but are frequently the reason why some of the participants in the traditional classroom come in unprepared for such games because they had not had the time or the means to prepare.
Suitable functionalities in VEDAMO Virtual Classroom for the implementation of ice-breakers are the video windows and audio contact as well as the possibility for group division and their consequent union in a common session.
Application of the method in the three forms of implementation
The ice-breaking games are related to the three forms of virtual learning implementation (interactivity, discourse and teamwork), however, this method is especially suitable for teamwork skills development.
Examples of educational activities in VEDAMO Virtual Classroom:
- “The Favourite 5” Ice-Breaker Online Variant, suitable for children at the age of 6-12
At the beginning of the lesson, for breaking the ice, the tutor assigns the students the task to list 5 favourite things (you choose the category, e.g. 5 favourite school subjects, / 5 meals/ 5 colours…). Within a time limit set by the teacher the students note down their lists. Next, each of the students copies their list on the whiteboard. The aim is to see if there are lists which are the same, i.e. the preferences of which students in the group coincide. The teacher can rearrange the lists so that the groups are formed on the basis of common preferences. Pre-school stage children who still cannot write can be assigned a task on their favourite colour or animal, whereas for the making of their list they use a graphic objects gallery.
- “Two Truths and One Lie” Ice-Breaker Online Variant
At the beginning of the lesson the teacher invites each participant to share three things about themselves: two facts and one lie. The aim is for the rest of the participants to guess which one is the lie. The teacher plays in turn the individual videos of each participant sharing these statements about themselves. The tutor prompts the rest to use the Raise Hand Button when they have a suggestion and want to share it. The tutor’s role is to keep track and note which suggestion is given most frequently and make a conclusion as to what the opinion of most of the participants is. Next, the floor is again given to the participant who shared the three items about themselves to reveal the right answers. Then it is the next participant’s turn to share three statements.