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Communication Activities Using Mobile Devices

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Mobile devices are major sources of communication for almost everybody these days.  As such, these devices lend themselves for exploring effective and ineffective communication.  The goals of this unit of study are to:

  • gain a greater understanding of the keys to effective communication.
  • build team and cooperative learning skills.

Ice Breaker:  Texting Messages

  • Prior to the activity, choose a phrase (with fewer than 300 characters) that has meaning to your group and translate it for text messaging (for help, visit Make sure that all participants have one another’s cell phone numbers stored in their own phone’s memory.
  • After arranging the group in a circle, text your message to the first person (it helps to have the message already loaded into your phone). The person who receives the text then whispers the message to the next person in the circle. That person must then text the message to the next person, who whispers it to the next person, who then, in turn, whispers it. Continue in this fashion (i.e., alternating texts and whispers) until the last person receives the message. The last person then verbally shares the message with the entire group.
  • Messages can also be sent from the computer via
  • Discuss problems with messages that texted.


As you can see by this example, the original post was wen ppl talk, listN completely. Most ppl nevr lisN. (When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.) The final person received the message, When people talk, most people listen unless there is nobody to hear you.

Ice Breaker: Text a Story

One person starts a story – either a word, phrase, or sentence (can be negotiated with the group or predetermined by the leader), and texts this to the next group member who adds a word, phrase, or sentence.  When it gets to the last person, s/he reads the story aloud.

Same But Different

  • Distribute via email or securely face-to-face the Same but Different pictures to  students/members.
  • Three pairs of similar pictures will be distribute to each group of six students/members.
  • Via telephone or texting communications, members must find the one and only partner who has the exact same picture.

Source:  Abrams, Michael; Scannell, Mary; Mulvihill, Mike (2011-11-22). Big Book of Virtual Teambuilding Games: Quick, Effective Activities to Build Communication, Trust and Collaboration from Anywhere! (Kindle Locations 1840-1841). McGraw-Hill. Kindle Edition.

Building Communications

  • Split group into two to four subgroups and give each group the same exact building supplies.  Tinker Toys work well for this.  Take the groups to separate locations so they have no visual or direct verbal access to one another.
  • Ask the group to assign a communicator, someone who communicates with the other groups using his or her mobile device.
  • Give them the instruction that they are to create three structures that look exactly alike and to do so, they need to communicate to the other groups via their mobile devices.  This can be done either through voice or texting but no images can be sent.  The communicator can only convey instructions received from the other teams, but cannot be involved in the actual hands-on building of the structure
  • Once the groups believe that they have completed the task, tell them that they can send pictures of their structure to the other groups for a final confirmation.
  • Bring the groups back together to have them compare their structures.


Student Reflection

We broke up into groups, with each group having one telephone communicator and three builders. Each group had a bag with the same tinker toy parts. We then had to build a symmetrical structure identical to the other two groups. We had to ask questions and give directions to each other until we were able to come up with identical structures. It took awhile, but we were able to communicate effectively enough to create identical structures. Yeah for us!

I thought this activity was really difficult and confusing because everybody was talking at once and kind of difficult to hear. That is why communication is very important. Communication has a big role in our everyday life non-verbally or verbally.

We received the bag of tinker toys we then had to go to different rooms. Somebody from each group then had to decide who was going to be the communicators. The communicators had to then had to call the other communicators and the rest were the listeners, and the listeners were the only ones who could touch the tinker toys. The Communicators had then had to tell us what to construct. I thought this activity was really difficult and confusing because everybody was talking at once and kind of difficult to hear. That is why communication is very important, Communication is also a big role in our everyday life nonverbally or verbally.

Reflections Via Voicethread

  • Create an Account on Voicethread.
  • Start a Voicethread with photos from the communications activities.
  • Show students/members how to register.
  • Ask students to verbally record their reactions to the activities via a webcam or by calling in via their cell phones.
  • Have students/members listen to all of the responses and then discuss ways these messages were effective and ineffective.

Post Class Student Reflections

After class, as part of their out-of-class assignments, students post their reflections about the class activities via a Facebook Page set up for this purpoose.

What a great way to learn communication techniques! Thank you Jackie for all your creative ways to make this class fun and exciting as well as informational.

These as well as other mobile-driven team building activities can be found at

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

February 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm

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