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BOREDOM has been the death of many small groups.  Variety and passion are the small group leader’s best tools for combating boredom.  Here is a very short list of creative instructional strategies for us in E-groups that may save you, and your e-group participants, from a slow and agonizing death by boredom.

Get to Know You Strategies

  • Video Biographies– Participants create a short video clip in which they introduce themselves to fellow participants. In order to enhance the sense of community in your e-group encourage participants to share information about their families, occupations, and hobbies.
  • Two Truths and a Google Forum– Participants will google their own names and find one random fact about a person that shares their name. In a post on the group forum, participants will post two facts about their life along with the fact about the person who shares their name.  After posting, participants will guess which facts are true and which is from Google.

Direct Instruction Strategies

  • Interactive Presentations– Participants engage in an interactive presentation that introduces the E-group’s “topic of the week” through music, visual art, video, links to web pages, etc.  To learn more visit, Prezi.com, Emaze.com, and (my personal favorite) Zaption.com.
  • Video Lecture– Participants will watch and respond to an online video of the small group leader giving a short lecture.  Don’t let the word “lecture” scare you; they don’t have to be boring!  Lectures have been a staple of education for many centuries; used responsibly they can be a great addition to your learning activity line-up.
  • Written Lecture– Students will read and respond to a lecture prepared by the small group leader.
  • Reading Activity– Participants will read and respond to a selection chosen by the small group leader.

Indirect Instruction Strategies

  • Discussion Forums- Discussion Forums are the “bread and butter” of leading e-learning small groups.  Discussion forums are the best way to engage group participants, help them to get to know each other, and to gauge their level of understanding of the small group material.  Almost every learning activity should be followed by a discussion forum that allows participants the opportunity to draw conclusions from the learning activity and compare their conclusions to those of their group mates.
  • WebQuests– WebQuests are inquiry-oriented activities in which most or all of the information that participants work with come from online sources. For more information about creating a WebQuest for your E-group visit WebQuest.org.
  • Microteaching- Participants will divide into groups of four. Each group prepares a brief presentation that is presented to the entire group.
  • Service Project– Participants are encouraged to complete a service project in the community and describe the experience in a discussion forum. Pictures may be posted to the discussion forum and participants may join each other in completing projects.
  • Story Starters Blog– Participants are given a writing prompt and asked to complete the story.  After writing, participants will share their blog entry on the small-group web page and responded to other’s blog entries.
  • Assumption Smashing Activity– Participants are asked to imagine that an important fact, which is normally taken for granted, was never true (e.g. Jesus never existed, etc.) Participants write about how they imagine the world would look after smashing that particular assumption.  Participants will respond to each other’s posts.

Community Building Strategies

  • Chapel– The “chapel” is a space provided on the course web page to allow participants to request prayer from and/or write prayers for their group-mates.  Participants may also take turns writing a weekly devotional. Group leaders who make use of this space encourage participants to do the same.
  • Paul’s Front Porch– The “Front Porch” is a space provided on the course web page to allow participants a chance to socialize with one another. This space is open for general conversation, questions, and comments. Group leaders who make use of this space encourage participants to do the same.