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Team building activities are important for all groups, but devising team building activities appropriate for virtual teams can be difficult. Fortunately, you can adapt some in-person team building activities for the online world in a way that keeps them fun and interesting and that helps to build the sense of community among team members. These activities are perfect for business teams, online classes, or other virtual groups.
In order to help teammates become more familiar with each other, try a team building icebreaker. Ask each teammate to choose an emoticon that best describes her. (See the Resources section for a free emoticon page.) Then each teammate should write a short paragraph about why she chose that particular emoticon, and teammates can ask questions based on the paragraphs.
Two Truths and a Lie
This classic icebreaker activity is the perfect way to help online teammates feel more comfortable with each other. Teammates take turns saying two true statements and one false statement about themselves, with the other people on the team guessing which is the false statement. This activity is surprisingly more difficult online than it would be in person, since players have no facial expressions or external clues to base their guesses on.
Pass Around a Story
You can write a whole set of group stories in a short amount of time with this activity. Have each teammate start a story about any topic and write about it for a set amount of time (e.g., three minutes). Each teammate can then pass the story on to the next teammate on a list and add on to the received story for another stretch of time.
To facilitate this activity online, the first teammate can either build a wiki page for each story, or can simply email a word processing file to the next teammate. Each person should label the part that he wrote to give the game more of a personal feel. At the end, you can compile all of the stories and email them to everyone. If you'd like, you can use a different genre (instead of a fictional story) that more closely relates to your team's purpose, such as an essay on "The Number One Way Our Company Needs to Change."
Keren (Carrie) Perles is a freelance writer with professional experience in publishing since 2004. Perles has written, edited and developed curriculum for educational publishers. She writes online articles about various topics, mostly about education or parenting, and has been a mother, teacher and tutor for various ages. Perles holds a Bachelor of Arts in English communications from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.