Assembling the heterogeneous elements for (digital) learning

Looking for a new "icebreaker" for #edc3100

As mentioned previously the simplistic (lazy) introductory forum for #edc3100 didn’t achieve it’s ill-defined goals. I need to find a new one.

Given I hate ice-breaker activities, I doubt this is going to be very creative. Plus time is against me.

The context

#edc3100 is a 3rd year course for pre-service teachers trying to engage them in the task of using ICTs in their teaching. The students are all required to have created their own blog and engage with other social media.

The goals

The primary goal is to encourage students to make connections with others. To find out who might be good to follow.

A secondary goal could be to see some different ICTs in action and be required to actually use them for a purpose. This experience can provide grist for reflection.

The options

This list of 10 icebreakers includes an idea for students creating a trading card of themselves using a tool from Big Huge Labs. It moves beyond the textual, requires the students to engage with a new service. The purpose of the slide is a question. Something about them, something about experiences/perspectives of ICTs?

This from Curtin University provides a bit more in the way of design principles from the literature. Interestingly, I’m not certain that the suggested activities are always a good fit for the design principles. e.g. how does creating a video bio (or a trading card as above) “require the learners to read each others entries” which is one of my problems.

This page has some background on ice-breakers and a few suggestions. One is to require students to find 3 people with whom they have something in commmon and comment on those posts. This could could work in a Moodle discussion forum with activity completion.

@catspyjamasnz suggested

Actually much of the rest of week 1 is focused on students applying Toolbelt theory/TEST framework to their own study habits. This suggestion might be a bit of duplication, but it may also be a good lead in…mmm.

@katemfd suggested
Another case of possible duplication. Later in the semester we do a Flickr/image activity based around the weather borrowed from @courosa.


The activity from last year required students to create the introduction on their blog. The post to the discussion forum only included a link to the student’s blog post. This creates the problem of having to click through to the blog post. You can’t see anything interesting in the discussion forum. This was probably a factor in the use of the forum.

This and the above suggests some principles

  1. Have the forum post contain something interesting (i.e. actual information about the student).
  2. Use the activity completion to require looking and commenting on others.
  3. Rather than limit to just text, have some form of multimedia involved.
  4. Have some link to their blog linked to the activity (perhaps reflecting on the task of using the specific ICT)

This is leaning back towards the activity we used in 2012 – borrowed from ECMP355 and @courosa again – with the addition of asking the students to find someone they have something in common with and someone they are very different from.

I have added in the suggestion to create a trading card (like this one) using this web-based tool and also suggested Popplet or Padlet as options and linked to my 2012 poplet.

I’d actually done much of this prior to seeing the suggestion from @catspyajamasnz, now I’m pondering tweaking it a bit. Have them add in “One thing that annoys me about learning at USQ” — sounds like a plan.


It's making us stupid


Does GPA make any difference to #moodle course usage?


  1. Still a week until semester starts, but the icebreaker seems to be working for at least one student

    Thanks for commenting I got so excited last night when I saw it I was like a little kid again smile It is a photo of my ‘boys’. Back to the real world today and it seems I have a lot of new introductions to read, I’ve never been on a course where the forums are so busy (I like it).

    I’d suggest this is likely one of the keen students – as evidenced by the early start – will be interesting to see how it goes overall.

  2. Hi David, I have 2 blogposts on icebreakers, if you are still checking them out.

    I’m thinking of some for my own summer course! Let me know if you find some creative ones that worked.

  3. G’day Yin, Thanks for the pointers. Liked both of those. My course is just starting up again (1 week to go, but some have already started), so I can’t change it now. Still using largely the one above with the addition of “introduce yourself to one person who is the same, and one who is different”. That combined with each student having their own blog (which is mentioned in the intro) seems to be working. Though I must get around to evaluating it at some stage. David

  4. Sure thing. I’m still waffling over mine since my course starts in June, depending on enrollment. The trading cards activity sounds intriguing. I’ve heard of how folks have used an online software where they could “go back in time” by inserting an image in an old magazine frame or something. If you could share with me links to @courosa’s icebreakers, I’d appreciate it very much. Thanks!

    • Just tried to find a link. Nothing quickly forthcoming. The activity I mentioned above is one we still use, though later in the course. The “weather activity” involves asking people to take a photo of the weather where they are and emailing it to a flickr account. In my course, the students send the photos. They are distributed throughout Australian and broader.

      In other situations, the request is sent out to various social networks. @courosa has used this approach in presentations (e.g. here and here)

      The collection of photos from my course can be seen here. This activity is used for two reasons. First, following Alec’s practice of demonstrating networked possibilities. Second, later in the course we use it to illustrate privacy issues. In this case, the idea that the data wrapped around most of those photos might include the latitude and longitude at which the photo was taken.

  5. Awesome!!! Thank you so much!

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