Ice Breaker Activities
Students think of a word that best describes them or their life. They post their word as the subject of the discussion board posting and then explain why they chose that word in the body of the posting. After all have posted, students review and find someone whose word resonates with them. They reply and try to find at least two additional nouns that the two of them have in common (Engaging the Online Learner by Rita-Marie Conrad and J. Ana Donaldson).
Write Your Own Epitaph
Students will consider about where they think life will lead them (goals and aspirations) and then write their epitaph as others would view their contributions (Advanced Methods in Distance Education by K. Dooley, J. Lindner, and L. Dooley).
During the first week of class, we all ask our students to post introductions. Direct the students to read all class introductions in preparation for a quiz, worth bonus points, in Session 2. You can do this by email or by creating a matching or multiple choice quiz in Blackboard. Ask questions like "Who lives in Boston?" or "Who has the pet monkey?" Give them three days to respond. This builds learning community in the class which promotes learning, according to the literature (Engaging the Online Learner by Rita-Marie Conrad and J. Ana Donaldson).
Two Truths and a Lie
Have participants send two truths and a lie over a course listserv or threaded discussion list (either whole class or in smaller virtual teams). Have the other learners respond with their guess of the lie (Advanced Methods in Distance Education by K. Dooley, J. Lindner, and L. Dooley).
Pass It On
Each student will develop a question to pass on to the next student (e.g., "Where was the tallest tree you have ever climbed?"). The student then emails the question to another student. The second student answers the question and then emails the response, along with the original question, on to the next person. The process is repeated until everyone has had a chance to answer. Then the responses are returned to the originator of the question (Advanced Methods in Distance Education by K. Dooley, J. Lindner, and L. Dooley).
Lost in Space
Sometimes, we learn more about people through their priorities than their standard introductions. Here are the directions for this assignment:
Direct students "to imagine they have been living on the space station for one year. Suddenly, the computers malfunction, and [they] have fifteen minutes to evacuate to a space shuttle before all life support systems fail. [They] will be allowed to take five items with [them]" (Conrad and Donaldson, 2004, p. 52).
Next, students should then, as quickly as they can, type their name followed by the five items in a discussion board posting. This is not a time for reflection, just a quick response.
The class will then review the lists and inquire of various students as to why they chose what they did (Engaging the Online Learnerby Rita-Marie Conrad and J. Ana Donaldson).
Have students create a mnemonic of their first name and use that to describe themselves. Here's an example: My name is Corky and I have a crazy sense of humor and love to have fun. My hobby is amateur radio. My wife is much younger than I and we have a 4-year-old. I teach a freshmen "Orientation to College" course, and as an "old" guy (compared to my students), I enjoy the company of youngsters. So his mnemoic would be CORKY...(C) Crazy (O) Old (R) Radio ham (K) Knows (Y) Youngsters (Advanced Methods in Distance Education by K. Dooley, J. Lindner, and L. Dooley).
Have students choose a costume to represent a personality trait. They can take a digital picture and send it to the other learners with a description (Advanced Methods in Distance Education by K. Dooley, J. Lindner, and L. Dooley).