Using icebreaker activities and re-energizers in the classroom effectively help to “break the ice” in various ways: Adult learners get acquainted, start conversations, build trust, and relieve tensions. They encourage participation and help creating a sense of connection and shared common understanding. They help to clear the mind, vitalize, and create enthusiasm (Chlup & Collins, 2010).
What is this technique about
Pictionary or Scribble is a group activity based on a quiz where two or more teams compete against each other by guessing what one member of the group is drawing. Everybody in the drawing member’s own group can make as many guesses as possible in a predetermined amount of time. In the meantime, the one to draw the chosen word is not allowed to speak or make hints that can help the group. If the group fails guessing the word, the members of the other group are allowed to make one guess. The group that guesses right first will get a point. This process can be repeated as many times as wanted but there must be an uneven number of rounds to find a winner.
Where does it come from
One could think that Pictionary was developed by a large toy company, but the reality is different. Back in the early 80’s, Robert Angel graduated from Western Washington University College of Business and Economic and decided to move in with some of his high school friends. One evening, one of the buddies asked the others to play a game called “charades on paper” and the game quickly developed to be a game-night tradition where it became louder and crazier. Angel then thought about making the concept into a cool board game that other could enjoy as well. Because of the combination of drawing a word, Angel used “Pictures” and “Dictionary” to create the familiar game name “Pictionary”. Pictionary quickly became a bestselling game and is still very popular today (Scipioni, 2016).
For which purposes it is used (why in your engineering teaching)
When facilitating a workshop where students are deeply concentrated in solving a problem or develop a future scenario, it is good to have an ice breaker midway or after a long phase of concentration on one specific task. The purpose of the ice breaker is to get the students to stop thinking for a moment and do a completely different activity so the brain can process all the information obtained so far. Here, Pictionary can be used as an ice breaker because it is a fun game that include everyone and take the students mind of the topic for a moment. Ice breakers is often an underrated session but can affect the outcome of the workshop positively.
How to use it
When playing Pictionary online on Scribbl.io, every student will have to create a virtual player with a name they choose by themselves. When entering the game forum, it will provide a random word to a random player who then must draw on the virtual whiteboard that everyone can see. Now the other players can write in the chat box which word they think it is. If a player guesses the right word, the game will mark this with a green color, give the winner a point and provide a new random word to a new random player. This process is now repeated as many times as predetermined by the teacher before.
How to implement this techniques online
Preparation, what do before the session
- Prepare the link that the students must use for the session.
- Define on the website Scribbl.io how many rounds there should be.
- Define on the website Scribbl.io how long the students can guess the right word. This will be the timer.
- Prepare approx. 10-15 additional rounds to the game to make sure to have enough words for the session.
During application, i.e., while giving the session
- Introduce the purpose and the rules of the game. Tell the students that
- the first one to guess the right word wins.
- first the group with the member who draws will guess, then the others.
- they are allowed to write as many words in the chat as they want.
- to follow the remaining guidelines on the website before starting the session.
- Based on the configuration in the preparation, the Scribble -webpage will control the game during the session.
- Keep an eye on the time, so the session will not be too long or too short.
Follow-up, about what to do after the session
- Go to the overview of the score and tell the students who won.
- Tell the students to take a break.
Examples and/or testimonials
The below is an example of how the method was prepared and facilitated in February 2021 by a student group during the course “Megatrends and Technological Innovation” held at the University of Southern Denmark by Prof. Dr. Patricia Wolf.
In the example below, the part orange middle part of the workshop (turning point) would be where the ice breaker is implemented.
Facilitator’s instruction guide
Scribble.io (15 min): Turning Point
- Create two links for the groups!
- Provide a direct link in the meeting chat
XX:XX – XX:XX: Explaining the game to the participants and how they can join (1 Minute)
- Explaining the rules
- One is choosing 1 out 3 words and drawing the chosen word, and the other participants are guessing the word in the chat on the right side
- You can see the ranking on the left side beside your name
XX:XX – XX:XX: Participants have two minutes to join the game (2 Minutes)
- Type your name for the game and click ‘Join’
XX:XX – XX:XX: Playing the Game (12 Minutes)
- Inform the participants about next steps (XX Minutes Coffee Break and Lotos Blossum afterwards)
Example of Scribble – “HYDAC Challenge” Group 5, 2021
- Internet access
- Access to online learning platform (e.g., Teams, Zoom Skype)
- A webpage where Pictionary can be executed (e.g., Scribbl.io)
Becreate.ch (n.d.), online at https://www.becreate.ch/en/knowledge
Skribbl.io, online at https://skribbl.io/
Skribblio | Online Pictionary | Skribbl.io | Game for Zoom | Online Teaching Games| Scribblio. (2020, April 23). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA9TUH_Gm8E
Chlup, D. T., & Collins, T. E. (2010). Breaking the ice: using ice-breakers and re-energizers with adult learners. Adult Learning, 21(3-4), 34-39.
Scipioni, J. (2021, May 28). How a 20-something waiter made millions creating Pictionary: “I had no idea what I was doing.” CNBC. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/26/how-a-young-waiter-created-pictionary-in-the-1980s.html