Thoughts, writing & snippets

Marguerite Koole, PhD

Identity Accelerator #9, #10, and #11: Ways to Engage in the First Five Minutes

mkoole, · Categories: Educational technology, Identity, Teaching


These three ideas arrived in my email in-box this morning: Three Focusing Activities to Engage Students in the First Five Minutes of Class (Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching Strategies from Magna Publications).

As learners arrive for your synchronous discussion, they often need to check their technology by running audio and video wizards. Time can flit away. For those who are ready, you can offer some activities that will help to focus and set the tone for the session. You might even offer some content review activities.

The article by Faculty Focus is focused on the flipped classroom. But, the three activities can apply equally to online classrooms.

  1. The looping Slide Deck – Trivia questions, pictures, quick facts.
  2. Ordering exercise – List of steps or items to be put into order.
  3. Draw something together – Suggest drawings related to the lesson/course.




Preparation and instructor responsibilities

  1. The Looping Slide Deck
    • In Blackboard Collaborate, Adobe Connect, and similar synchronous tools, it might be challenging to get the pictures to loop automatically. However, you could place one picture on each page of the whiteboard along with instructions for the learners to manually advance through the pictures.
    • A question or comment could accompany each picture.
    • Tell the learners that they can start anywhere so as to avoid creating stress for those who join later.
    • Ask the learners to place their answers and/or thoughts into the text space OR draw and write on the whiteboard pages.
    • Debrief
  2. Ordering Exercise
    • Can be placed on a single whiteboard page.
    • Ask the participants to text their suggestions for the “best” order and why.
    • Allow the learners to use the chat tool or write on the whiteboard page.
    • Debrief: Explore the learners preferences for the ordering of the items in the list.
  1. Draw Something Together
    • Type what you want the students to draw. (Choose something
    • Tell them they must draw a single thing rather than multiple small drawings.
    • Debrief: Ask what they intended to draw; ask what emerged.



These are easy activities to set up. If the prompts are chosen carefully, the initial five minutes can be made more useful and meaningful rather than the usual set-up chaos we sometimes experience.


4/5 stars

Note: for an introduction to identity accelerators for online teaching and learning visit this entry

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