Virtually (Im)possible: Creative Ideas for Online Socialisation Activities for Induction
Hello everybody, Thank you for joining us for this #creativeHE jam activity which will run across Monday 15th June – from 09.00 until 17.00 BST.
Today’s event is a ‘stretchy conversation’ – where we want you to contribute your ideas for creative online induction activities across the day.
We know how important it is to find ways to bring people together. It is equally important for learning and teaching, when starting a new programme and module. The pandemic will not be over when the next academic year begins and most, if not all, academic programmes, will be offered online with some face-to-face elements where possible. So, the usual induction needs a rethink. Right? How do we do induction effectively online, virtually? How can we bring our students together, to get to know each other and us? How can we lay the foundations of a learning community? This is an opportunity to share what has worked and what hasn’t in the past and come up with new ideas to help us get ready for the new academic year. Please share your thoughts and ideas. Feel free to use text, images or doodle.
What’s Induction for anyway?
When it comes to induction, the key issues that we think are worth addressing, beyond the practicalities, are: bonding, belonging and cohort identity; getting students ‘study ready’, that is, having a place to study and ‘seeing’ themselves as students (NOT attempting to develop all their study and digital ‘skills’ in one fell swoop!); shaking up notions of what ‘education’, teaching and learning are (assuming a universal transactional/passive pre-tertiary educational experience); developing a sense of voice and ownership; and introducing students to the extra- and co-curricular activities on offer (from the Students’ Union to the Librarians; from Learning Development to Office Hours).
Some ideas that we are juggling include:
Getting to know the University and L&T space – and starting to know each other
- Have a Social Media Space – hosted and kept alive by students. Invite students into the social media spaces when they receive their offers. Make sure student volunteers keep this space alive in the run up to induction – and throughout. Make sure the spaces are open and inclusive.
- Mix it up: As well as the Social Media space – have real students send real postcards and letters to students who have been offered a place at the University – with a welcome message and a study tip – phrased as an ‘How to enjoy yourself’ tip.
- Virtual tours of the university and the faculty/school – made by students.
- Meet the… Have a series of live and recorded messages by course/module tutors – the Librarians, Learning Developers, Students Union – welcoming the students into the university – sharing a top tip for a successful year (definitely do not lecture on plagiarism and academic misconduct – let’s not start with a message of distrust).
Activities for the students to do at a distance:
- Make a Top Trumps card or a Dark Matters Daemon of yourself and post it to the class social media space. Ask students to LIKE and say Hello to other students in the class. This provokes them to create their own introductory representations (which are creative and fun).
- Think of a song that represents your chosen subject to you – post it to the class social media space – giving a reason for your choice. Ask students to respond by posting their own songs – encouraging an exchange with peers – which can continue amongst themselves.
- Construct a study space in your home – take a picture and post it to the class social media space – with a brief commentary. Read and respond to posts from others. This is a more positive way of helping students to feel like students than, say, a Digital or Study Skills checklist, whilst helping them realise that they will have to take control of their learning.
At the end of the week – have a virtual Party – hosted by students and with a sense of festivity. If students have been set a creative digital challenge as part of the induction process – share their outputs. You could also host something like a ‘super’ Tweet chat or social media exchange where new students get to ask questions of current students. This gets everybody involved in discussing hopes and fears in a positive, digital learning environment.
BUT studying and learning are also embodied activities. It is hard enough to make the time and curricular space to build embodied activities into F2F teaching – still harder to think about how to get students ready to bring their whole embodied selves into their learning experience when they are working from home and online. So, we are also interested in possible EMBODIED activities that people could do – at a distance.
One suggestion that we have is a ‘jeans to apron’ activity: Transform an old pair of jeans or similar into a ‘study’ apron – share the process in the social media space. Reflect on the process of making the apron. How do you feel about your new apron? Did you find it fruitful to make and think? What is the best part of your apron? Do you feel like a proper student yet? Example video: https://youtu.be/ty_ztNPoEp4
Is there anything you have done or know of that would make sense as a meaningful introductory activity, online? Your creative idea can be for a virtual or an embodied activity. Would you share, doodle or write some of your ideas in our social media space as part of our Stretchy Conversation? For longer responses, may be including some visuals, we are using this room: https://yoteachapp.com/creativehejam – and the code (not a password) for this is: creativehejam (if needed). For shorter contributions we invite you to share via Twitter, using the hashtag #creativeHE.