Adding interactive and collaborative elements gives students a wider variety of learning activities and methods. Varying the activity types, allowing for independent and collaborative elements as well as thinking about how your students will interact with learning, can help with engagement, development of skills and provides the opportunity for scaffolding and peer-to-peer as well as independent learning.

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 Icebreaker activities

Icebreakers, especially when starting with a new cohort, are critical in help build relationships, ease in new students and introduce them to the world of online learning. Icebreakers help encourage online socialisation, as outlined in stage two of Gilly Salmon’s Five Stage Model for online learning. Please click here to access this resource (web). Below we have collated some ideas for online ice breaker activities that you can potentially try. The ideas below have been provided by Dr. Chris Headleand and can be used to introduce students to an online learning platform.


Office 365 and interactive/collaborative activities

All staff and students have access to Office 365 through their University account. Office 365 allows students and staff to create, share and collaborate on documents together online. This opens up possibilities to allow staff and student to work in co-creation or empowers students to work under a ‘student as producer’ ethos.

Since office 365 allows 24/7 access to files and folders (as long as the permissions are set correctly) this means that students can access, contribute and add elements at a time. This makes this tool perfect for group work and collaboration. Below are some ideas that you can implement using Office 365.


OneNote and resource creation with students

Below you can find some links to relevant activities with using OneNote to create a shared resource with students. Staff were able to utilise the flexible nature of working and sharing documents to create a revision guide over the course of a few weeks. Students would add content in groups, which could then be used to share with the rest of the team. This was done asynchronously and synchronously depending on the need of the lecturer and students. It also enabled students to independently create resources (using the ‘student as producer’ ethos) by working with their peers and the lecture was able to scaffold the learning to develop the direction of the learning.

This same method can be utilised with other office 365 software to support development of learning materials/group presentations.


Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere, a live audience online response tool, is available for staff and students at the University of Lincoln. This tool can be used to gather synchronous or asynchronous feedback with your students and can be used on multiple internet connected devices.

This can be a really useful tool to gather opinions, thoughts and information from the students to feed directly into your teaching. It can also be used as a sense-checking activity to discover the understanding of the class on themes or topics. Because feedback is live and instantaneous it can be a great tool to gain insight in real-time and can also help students feel connected to the session by being able to contribute quickly and easily.


Talis Elevate

Talis elevate enables students to interact with text, pictures, audio or video clips. When you add a resource to Talis you will be able to then share a link with your students. Students can then highlight elements, comment and respond to questions that are posed around the resource. This works well in real-time as well as a pre/post work activity.

This provides real-time interactivity and collaboration on traditionally non-interactive resources, making sessions or pre-work more engaging and allowing students to develop key independent study skills that can be used effectively to enhance their main teaching sessions.