Become an Innovative Online Nurse Educator

Ice-Breaker Tuesday: Virtual Café Chats: Sip, Share, and Connect!

Oct 10, 2023

Today's ice-breaker is all about creating a supportive online community through meaningful conversations. Connections are made, similarities discovered, and impactful conversations shared - all of this can be experienced in the virtual café chats. 

These chats provide an open and inviting space for participants to join, engage in stimulating discussions, and build a sense of belonging with each other. So hop on over to the virtual café, grab your favorite drink, and let the conversations flow! 

For several years I included a "Student Cafe" area in my online course Discussion Forum area. This was meant to be a place where students talked about non-course related things. However, this forum was almost never used by students. Today's blog post explores how virtual café chats could help create a vibrant online community and foster meaningful connections among students, if used intentionally.

The primary benefit of a virtual café chat is that it encourages meaningful conversations, rather than simply relying on course-related topics alone. Additionally, the informal nature of these chats can provide an open and inviting atmosphere for people to connect and share their stories in a more relaxed

This interactive ice-breaker activity aims to engage participants in an asynchronous online course by creating a virtual café-like atmosphere where they can connect, share stories, and engage in meaningful conversations around interesting prompts.

1. Announce the activity: Send a course-wide announcement or post in your intro Module explaining the ice-breaker activity. Provide clear instructions and a suggested timeline for participation.

2. Set the rules: Share the following guidelines with participants:
- Participants will engage in virtual café chats by responding to interesting prompts.
- Each prompt will be posted as a separate discussion thread or as a set of questions within a shared document.
- Participants should choose at least one prompt and reply to it, sharing their thoughts, experiences, or opinions.
- Encourage participants to engage with each other's responses by replying, asking follow-up questions, or sharing their own related stories.

3. Create the prompts: Prepare a set of interesting prompts or questions that encourage personal reflection, creativity, and connection. The prompts can be related to the course content, current events, or broader topics of interest. Aim for a mix of light-hearted and thought-provoking prompts.

4. Designate a discussion thread or shared document: Create a dedicated discussion thread or shared document specifically for the virtual café chats. Participants can select a prompt of their choice and reply within the designated platform.

5. Engage and connect: Participants can explore the prompts and engage with each other's responses. Encourage them to have conversations, share personal stories, offer insights, and support one another through comments and replies.

6. Your involvement: As the facilitator, actively participate in the discussion thread or shared document by responding to participants' posts, asking follow-up questions, and fostering a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. Prompt participants to elaborate on their responses and facilitate conversations among participants.

7. Reflection and discussion: In a follow-up discussion or reflection forum, invite participants to share their thoughts on the activity. They can discuss their favorite prompts, memorable conversations, or insights gained from engaging in the virtual café chats. Encourage participants to reflect on the connections made, similarities discovered, or the impact of open and meaningful conversations in building a supportive online community.

Through "Virtual Café Chats," participants will have the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations, share personal experiences, and foster connections within the online course community. This ice-breaker activity provides a warm and inviting space for participants to sip their virtual beverages, engage in stimulating discussions, and build a sense of belonging. So, grab your favorite virtual drink, join the conversation, and let the café chats unfold!

I'd love to hear your ideas on this ice-breaker. Share them in The Online Educator Facebook Group!

Would you like me to spotlight one of your ice-breakers? Share your assignment HERE for an opportunity to be spotlighted in The Online Educator Blog.

Happy Ice-Breaking!

I am a nurse and a college educator. I help other motivated educators leverage the tools needed to teach online successfully so that they can create lively, engaging, quality courses from the comfort of their homes!
© 2023~Natasha Nurse-Clarke~ All rights reserved. Originally published at This content can not be used for commercial purposes, including selling or licensing printed or digital versions of this content. For non-commercial purposes, please credit Natasha Nurse-Clarke~


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