One of the biggest challenges that online learning presents versus face-to-face or blended learning is building a connection between teacher and learner, as well as between learners themselves.
Adding a few ‘ice breaker’ activities at the beginning of your courses can help you build this relationship and help you and your students become familiar with each other as you start the learning journey together.
Here are five of our favourites which you might like to try:
“Star participant!” badge
Getting a notification that you’ve been awarded a digital badge can give you a quick boost of motivation. If students are completely new to your organisation, your Moodle admin can award badges when they complete their profile with useful personal information. Alternatively, teachers can award a simple badge with a welcome graphic or message for contributing to a forum or a glossary. And what might that forum or glossary look like?
“New learner” glossary block
Why not get your class to add some personal details to a glossary and then use the Random glossary entry block to showcase a student each day? When participants come to your course, they’ll find out about each other courtesy of this neat little side block.
“View from my window” forum thread
A popular way to use forums is to add a “Tell us about yourself” forum where new members of a group can introduce themselves. Of course, this is fine – but how about thinking of something a little different which will still make for interesting and informative reading? One idea is to ask each student to take a picture of what they see from the nearest window and write a bit about their environment. Of course, this is made even easier if they use their smartphone camera and the Moodle App!
Perhaps not for everyone, if you have some shy students, but Moodle’s standard Atto text editor allows for instant audio or video recording of short messages. You could set up a forum where, optionally, new course participants can record a Hello – teachers included!
“Have your say” poll
Again, this depends on your course: some courses have rigid schedules and content, but if it’s at all possible, a quick poll using Moodle’s Choice activity can make students feel their needs are taken into account. Could you offer them a choice of meeting times? A choice of assignment topic? Acting on the results of these student selections will create a positive atmosphere as you all begin learning together.
The five suggestions above all use Moodle’s standard features, but there is a lot more you can do with Moodle plugins or if you have the benefit of a Moodle Partner. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like more help in kick-starting your new Moodle course.