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Instructional Activities For Your Course

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Active and Engaged Learning Activities For the Socially-Distanced Classroom and Zoom Classes

Below are 12 activities, approaches, and some digital applications that can help create a sense of community and interactivity in a classroom, even when students cannot sit close together for the traditional versions of small group work and collaboration.

Instructors who would like to brainstorm or who seek a one-on-one teaching consultation should reach out to the staff at the Markwood Center for Learning, Innovation, and Collaboration (CLIC).

Collaborative Whiteboard Use

Zoom and Collaborate Ultra have a whiteboard feature that allows for a collaborative use. As a class, students can all contribute to a concept map, or brainstorm activity. The end product can be shared as a file in the end of the session, so everyone has that document to refer back to when studying. Tags: Zoom, Collaborate Ultra

Empathy Mapping

Assign four students to a literary character or historical figure pertinent to the topic at hand. Each student represents one verb: Thinks, Does, Feels, and Says. Each of those students will brainstorm what the person would Think, Do, Feel, or Say by way of extending their comprehension of a reading or the person’s political or historical actions. Students can then bring their “verb” to create a complete analytical “map” of the character or figure, or complicate each other’s points of view. Tags: Dial-in Friendly, Collaborative Document

Factile/Jeopardy Review Game

Create a “buzz in” quizzing activity in the style of a game show using the app Factile or, as a desktop alternative, a Jeopardy PowerPoint template.

Create clues relevant to the subject at hand or ask students to create the clues after studying the material themselves. You can share the game on screen in-person or on a video call. Students ‘buzz in’ by “raising a hand” or by entering a character into the chat to simulate buzzing to answer the clue with the appropriate question. Tags: Android/iPhone/Desktop App


Ask students to buy a pack of index cards or a small, inexpensive whiteboard for your class. As a way to see “real time” understanding or even lingering questions, students can raise a notecard or whiteboard with their answers to a specific prompt, allowing for only the instructor to see it. This function can be replicated online through the use of the polling features in Zoom or Collaborate Ultra. Results are tabulated as a percent of the class but remain anonymous when shared with the class. Tags: Zoom, Collaborate Ultra

Idea Speed Dating

Students can quickly share thoughts about a topic or project with fellow students, moving from one student to another in a simulation of speed dating. This can be done in the classroom space (6 feet apart), as well as on a video call through breakout rooms or chats. Instructors can purposely assign groups of students for this activity or have them automatically (randomly) placed in breakout rooms. Tags: Dial-in Friendly, Zoom, Collaborate Ultra, Breakout Rooms

Kahoot Trivia

Kahoot is an interactive app that allows for anonymous responses. It can be used as a pre-formative assessment, to judge students’ knowledge of a specific topic, as well as a review activity. Instead of providing the students with a study guide or a review lecture, you may cover the same content in a game-like format.

Students may use their phones or computer to access the Kahoot room with a code generated by the instructor. The host may share their screen allowing students to see the results. Tags: Android/iPhone/Desktop App


Nearpod allows students to deliver and control an interactive presentation from their own device while the presentation is streamed to individual student devices. Presenters can add quizzes, polls, drawings, and so forth. Spectators can reply or ask questions anonymously throughout the presentation. Students can create a presentation in PowerPoint and upload it, or just create it right in Nearpod. The app generates a code that spectators can enter to access the presentation on the Nearpod website. The base account is free and no account is required for students to view the presentations. Tags: Android/iPhone/Desktop App


Students are asked a question from the instructor. One of the students will volunteer to answer, and that student "becomes the teacher,” asking another question about the same topic to be answered by another student in the class, who keeps the pattern going. If a student does not know the answer they can “popcorn” it to a peer. Tags: Dial-in Friendly


Students are given an idea or prompt to generate ideas, reactions, questions, etc. At the end of one minute, students are asked to pair off to share and discuss what they have come up with and to list at least three things that they can agree on. Once the first round is complete, groups will combine and discuss the topic into larger and larger groups. This continues until the whole class comes together to discuss their ideas. If the classroom is not large enough to keep spaced while discussing, ask students to use a digital technology to brainstorm together, either by texting each other if they are amenable or using a shared Google Docs page (which you can set up and share ahead of class), giving each round a labeled section. Tags: Dial-in Friendly


The Socrative teacher app allows for quick, gamified assessment or review of student understanding and course materials. Instructors can launch a quiz or “space race” for students to play against each other. Instructors can also ask multiple choice, true/false, and short answer questions on the fly and see the responses in real time. A free student version of the app must be downloaded on students’ devices in order to access the “room” created by the instructor. Tags: Android/iPhone/Desktop App

Strip Sequence

The instructor provides an ordered list of events, procedure steps, or facts in the wrong order as a PowerPoint presentation. Students, in break-out rooms or individually, will then reorganize the list in an attempt to find the correct order. The students’ answers can be posted inside the chat area. The next PowerPoint slide would present the students with the correct order. Tags: Zoom, Collaborate Ultra

Think, Pair, Share

Pair students up to answer a critical thinking prompt or discussion question. Ask them to use a digital technology to brainstorm together, either through texting each other if they are amenable or using a shared Google doc (which you can set up and share a link to ahead of class), giving each pair a labeled space on the doc. After a designated period, have the pairs report out, either by showing the Google doc on the screen and reading their work or by traditional sharing out loud. Tags: Dial-in Friendly, Shared Document

More Educational Technology Help at LinkedIn Learning

Use UW-Superior’s LinkedIn Learning site license to access hundreds of video tutorials on various educational technologies, such as creating break-out rooms in Zoom, or how to set up and share a Google Docs document.

You can login to LinkedIn Learning from our Campus Logins page.