Thursday, February 17, 2011
"Innovative teaching practices" have shown to improve student outcomes:
- Student-centered methods, including project-based learning, collaboration, and personalized instruction
- Learning that extends beyond the traditional classroom to promote global awareness and real-world exploration
- Technology integrated to encourage deep student learning (Boss, 11).
Breaking the ice is the most important part of the course and sets the foundation for the work you will do over the coming hours, days or weeks to build community online. Effective collaborative learning is best promoted through use of a variety of technologies; reaching many learning styles, use of best practices applied online and complete sharing of each others lives; building trust and forming strong group connections. Establishment of the virtual group if done well will lead to synchronous presence and enhance each student’s learning.
Personal ExperienceWhen I first started my Online Teacher Learning (OTL) courses at California State University East Bay (CSUEB), I was confronted with the challenge to learn a new technology and from there, create an introduction of myself, as an icebreaker. If learning a new technology wasn’t challenging enough, add to that a self-bio and working collaboratively with a group; which was our responsibility to create. I was extremely intimidated by this feat. My hands were sweaty and my insides were flip-flopping at the mere idea of the whole thing. It took me a day or two, but I took the bull by the horns, joined a group, and we all worked together to create our own blog with our individual introductions. This class was the one in which I had the best connections with my classmates, as we struggled together and learned more through the experience than if we merely interviewed each other. I equate the situation to facing ones’ worst fear with someone with the same fear; the bond built is undeniably unbreakable. I know some experiences will be void excitement, but it should be challenging and new.
How do you provide this? What are your ideas?
Below is a list of the various types of icebreakers one could opt to use.
- Simple games
2. Solving a puzzle or conundrum
3. Responding to questions. Questions can be silly, fun, serious, reflective, and experiential.
4. Sharing experiences
5. Creating visuals (collage of one’s life) and posting
6. Posting blogs
7. Personal Introductions (Getting to Know You – Video – Audio)
The best icebreakers are those that create the social atmosphere experienced in face-to-face courses; allowing students to gain images of their colleagues and perhaps listen to their voice. My personal favorites are technologies not used by most for day-to-day for activities; video and audio clips.
Consider your technologies -
Icebreakers can be introduced through a variety of methods. You can create your game or quiz via several online sites like surveymonkey.com. You can share the results or other experiences via a blog or discussion board through, or perform a search according to your subject area. Posting photos or an online audio introduction is another example of using technologies. Odeo, Jing or Eyejot are good examples of sites or technologies to record an introduction. Providing a photo as well as voice recording helps to bring familiarity to your new relationship. Successful technologies include
- Discussion board
- Social Networking sites; like Facebook
- Chat room
- Personal webpage
- Microsoft Word
- Graphics/audio files/video clips
- Digital camera
Facebook is new to the elearning community, and as (Bogg, 2007) one student reports, "Facebook is the most convenient and respectable way to feel connected to students, get updated on new trends, and build group relationships and express identities."