This chapter discusses the importance of taking in-class breaks and the steps for how you might do this in your online classroom. Based on our combined experiences in the role of student, instructor, and classroom support, we offer our knowledge of essential considerations when planning in-class breaks. In addition, we provide suggestions for optional activities to complete during the break.
Teaching and Learning Goal
Our goals for using these Adobe Connect tools to build community are to:
- Provide an opportunity to get to know and connect with our remote community
- Develop a sense of community and trust among members
- Boost community morale and engagement
Activity and Results
In online courses, it’s important to intentionally develop a sense of community and belonging with the students. The Adobe Connect platform and its features offer many options for community-building. In this chapter, we share activities that can foster teamwork and collaboration.
For a first class session, instructors may want to include an activity focused on introductions. We did this at a meeting for remote team members by setting up the Adobe Connect room and the layouts so that attendees could share via webcam, mic, and chat, and also comment on or respond to each other’s introductions (Image 1). Folks were excited to see that some of their team members lived nearby or in their home state, that there were shared hobbies, and that they had interests in common. Starting with an introductory icebreaker helped us to build a connection. In an online classroom, instructors can create a slide with prompts for the introduction that are connected to the class topic. It is important for instructors to be transparent with students about the goals of doing an introductory icebreaker, and let them know that you will use any feedback to improve future classes.
Instructors can adapt fun activities in order to teach or review key concepts, or you can use fun activities during class breaks (Verdooner & Clem, 2022). For example, for our meetings with remote team members, we researched team-based activities and found online versions of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” (Millionaire quiz, 2022) and an escape room (Enchambered Escape Room Sacramento: Best puzzle games in CA, 2021), and we created our own virtual picture charades game. In the next section, we’ll detail exactly what steps we took to prepare the Adobe Connect room for these activities and how we facilitated them during the session.
In our meetings, we were able to accomplish our goals of strengthening the remote team’s sense of community, building trust, and boosting morale through these activities, and we suggest that activities like these can also benefit online classes. We measured this by gathering verbal feedback and using polls at the end of each session. Attendees often provided feedback that they enjoyed the meetings and the opportunity to connect with their colleagues.
Technical Details and Steps
Step 1: Consider how you want to integrate the community-building activity into your class session.
- If the goal is to engage the community for content review before an exam or clarify nuances of different theories, you might consider activities based on Jeopardy (Image 4) or Who Wants to be a Millionaire that are question based.
- If the goal is community-building, you might consider charades or an escape room where students have to work together for an outcome. You could set aside time before class for students who arrive early or play a quick round during a 5-10 minute break.
Step 2: Find a game, icebreaker, and/or activity that you'd like to use for community-building.
- We spent some time researching virtual and remote team-building activities online. There are so many free resources out there now about remote work and teams! We did a Google search for online team building activities and came across a very helpful article (Alexis, 2022) that listed a ton of activity ideas.
Step 3: Prepare the Adobe Connect room for the community-building exercise.
- For example, for Who Wants to be a Millionaire, we included the link in our slide deck. When links are included in the slide deck, they are active and clickable in Adobe Connect, which makes it really convenient to access resources. We clicked the link and then used the “screen share” option in the share pod so we could all play together. One of the session facilitators managed the online game and selected the answers for the team.
- As another example, for picture charades with a small group, we used two layouts. First, we introduced the game in a layout that showed the instructions on a slide (Image 2). Then, to play the game, we used a layout that included four empty share pods, a large chat, and the stage lights countdown clock (Image 3). We gave everyone 3 minutes to pick their subject and gather their clues, and then their pictures were uploaded to the share pods. Once everyone had their clues together, we went in random order looking at the uploaded pictures and we all took turns guessing their clue in the chat or on microphone. A small group game like this could be relevant for instructors who have a small number of students who arrive early to class.
Step 4: Run the activity and have fun!
- During our activities, everyone had a great time and there was a lot of laughter!
What this looked like in Adobe Connect
Image 1: This image is of an example Adobe Connect layout for an introduction activity. Adobe product screenshot(s) reprinted with permission from Adobe.
Image 1 Alt-Text: This is a screengrab of an Adobe Connect classroom, in a layout focused on displaying slides. The top left corner of the screen has a small Video pod. The Attendees pod is directly below it and extends to the bottom of the screen. To the right of the Video pod and Attendees pod is a Share pod that takes up the majority of the layout and shows a slide image titled “Introduce Yourself”. The text in the body of the slide is a bulleted list and reads: “Name, CSSW Graduation Year, Were you a Residential or Online Student? Where are you currently located? Where else have you lived? Do you have other types of employment? What are your side hobbies or interests? What is one thing others should know about you?” In the top left corner of the slide is a yellow text-box that says “Please join us on webcam/microphone!” In the bottom third of the screen is a horizontal Chat pod with a happy face with sunglasses emoji in the header that stretches from the Attendees pod to the right edge of the screen. The right side of the screen includes a thin column that displays different layout options for the Adobe Connect room.
Image 2: This image is of an example Adobe Connect layout to introduce the charades activity. Adobe product screenshot(s) reprinted with permission from Adobe. Images used in the slide are public domain.
Image 2 Alt-Text: This is a screengrab of an Adobe Connect classroom. The format of the layout is the same as Image 1 except the Share pod now shows a slide image titled “Group Activity: Picture Charades.” The text in the body of the slide reads: “Like Charades but with a remote twist where you can only use images to explain whatever famous movie, book, song, etc. they pick. Similar rules, no talking, and the images cannot be directly from the movie or book.” Below the text are three pictures: an adult tiger head with orange, white, and black stripes, with a slight shadow on the left of its face and a black background; a majority black-and-white photo with a black background that selectively highlights the bright red color of a pair of boxing gloves; and a close-up of a stock image of a white woman’s blue-green eye, brown eyebrow, and natural pink eyeshadow.
Image 3: This image is of an example Adobe Connect layout for the picture charades activity. Adobe product screenshot(s) reprinted with permission from Adobe.
Image 3 Alt-Text: This is a screengrab of an Adobe Connect classroom. The format of the layout is similar to the previous slides layout in Image 1 and Image 2 except the Video pod in the top left corner has been replaced with a Stage Lights timer with text that reads “Time’s Up” and a big green button with “start” and “settings” buttons below it. Also, instead of one large Share pod to show slides, there are four smaller Share pods that are empty and have no media uploaded yet, and the Chat pod is taller so that players can participate via chat and see more comments at a time.
Image 4: This image is of an example Adobe Connect layout for a Jeopardy style activity. Adobe product screenshot(s) reprinted with permission from Adobe. Screengrab produced by Vitina Monacello with permission to publish for the purposes of this chapter.
Image 4 Alt-Text: This is a screengrab of an Adobe Connect classroom. The top left corner of the screen is a small Video pod with an image of a Live Support Specialist, Vitina Monacello. Similar to the prior images, the Attendees pod is directly below the Video pod. To the right of the Video pod and Attendees pod is a Share pod with the drawing tool activated, displaying a Jeopardy-style board that includes the following categories across the top from left to right: “DSM-V Diagnosis, Treatment Options, In the News, From our Readings, and From our Classes.” Below each category there are four boxes that each display the following point options: “50-point question, 100-point question, 200-point question, 500-point question.” Pink stars and pink A’s have been drawn on some of the boxes to indicate which team won the points for those questions. Below the game board is the Chat pod.
Alexis, M. (2022, April 14). 31 online team building games for Remote Employees in 2022. teambuilding.com. Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://edtechbooks.org/-MQHt
Enchambered: Sacramento Escape Room. (2021). Enchambered Escape Room Sacramento: Best puzzle games in CA. Enchambered: Live Escape Room Adventure . Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://edtechbooks.org/-ANvK
Millionaire quiz. Play Millionaire Quiz on CrazyGames. Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://edtechbooks.org/-aAAV
Verdooner, E. & Clem, S. (2022). In-class breaks: The importance of taking a break during online classes and considerations for break activities. In M. Marquart, L.W. Marshall, R. Chung, & K. Garay (Eds.), Designing Engaging and Interactive Synchronous Online Class Sessions: Using Adobe Connect to Maximize its Pedagogical Value. EdTech Books. https://edtechbooks.org/-etHR
We’d like to thank Josh Levine for his endless enthusiasm and collaboration on our LSS mentorship projects! We’d also like to thank Vitina Monacello for sharing the Jeopardy screengrab and allowing us to include her in this chapter!