Online Icebreaker Ideas

Icebreaker ideas for students learning online

Icebreakers are interactive activities that offer a low stakes opportunity for instructors and students to get to know each other better. They can help students get more familiar with the digital course environment and help establish a community of learners. Icebreaker activities signal to students that engagement is important and expected and that the instructor is interested in them and invested in their learning. An icebreaker can also be more effective if instructors and students post their image and bios in their Canvas profile.

Examples of Icebreakers

Examples shared by the University of Wisconsin include:

  • Personal Introductions – students are asked to talk about their professional interests, goals for the course, personal interests, etc. One option is to have students develop video introductions in Canvas.
  • Eight nouns – students use eight nouns that best describe themselves.
  • Five pictures – students create a collage of five pictures that best describe themselves.
  • Two truths and a lie – students must post two truths about themselves and one lie and classmates have to guess which item is untrue.

Examples shared on the blog, Leveraging e-Learning, include:

  • One word – students share one word that best describes them and post it in a discussion forum.
  • Things – students share an image that reflects why they’re taking the course or that represents them.

Examples shared by the Academy of Art University include:

  • Common ground (for Zoom) – groups (4-6 learners) have 5 minutes to write a list of everything they all have in common.
  • Burning questions – students write 1-3 “burning questions” they have about the course.
  • Forced analogies – the instructor posts two seemingly unrelated nouns and students have to post as many similarities or connections between them as possible.

Examples shared by the Poll Everywhere

  • 50 examples that use Poll Everywhere to help people get to know each other