“Once Upon a Time”: Ice-breaker for Online Courses

February 2, 2021 by Tamara Simić

With social distancing prevailing worldwide, our team is working hard to make sure that the events that we organize and facilitate offer engaging and interactive experience for our audience. When we moderate events, we ensure that our participants stay engaged and interact with each other. However, we understand that doing a course remotely has its challenges. Human beings are made to socialize.

Sitting in front of the PC creates a barrier. So, what we do is, in the first place, we create a relaxed, inviting environment, in which our participants feel comfortable and welcome. We make sure that the tools we use in our online courses are user-friendly. We introduce interactive elements during the course and we offer assistance at any moment.

We would like to share with you an example of such a successful tool that we have recently used in our online course Fostering Domestic Revenue Mobilization through Cooperation, which took place between Sep 28 and Oct 9, 2020.

On our Online Learning Platform we created a page with the following ice-breaker: we invited everyone involved to co-create an adventurous story about a Businessman - the main character. The title of the story to-be-written was Once Upon a Time. So, the task for the audience was to post a sentence. The next one to contribute, would have to read all previous sentences and keep the flow of the story by adding his/her contribution. The crucial part of this ice-breaker was that the participants could use humoristic approach. In other words – they had a full freedom. By the end of the course, this is the story that we have come up with. Read it and you will picture what fun these co-authors must have had and how this tool must have contributed to the relaxed online atmosphere.


Once upon a time there was a businessman going up.

He was about to join an online course on DRM from his home office.

The elevator was out of order and he had to take the stairs.

But little did he know, that one of his children had placed a cup of milk on the stairs... He was rushing, not paying attention to the surroundings.

He stumbled on the cup, spilling the insides of it on the floor and on his shoes. He felt surprised and disappointed at the same time, as he stared down the white liquid trickling down the stairs. Oh ... kids... he mumbled to himself. But, little did he know that the cup of milk was meant for a little kitten named FISCAL that children had adopted not that long ago.

So, ignoring all the chaos and rushing to his desk, our businessman sat down in front of his PC and rushed to log in. However... he couldn't connect to the internet.

After a little struggle, he had to rush down to check the router, only to find out that FISCAL and POLICY (a little puppy that had been adopted just before kitten FISCAL) were fighting for food right at the cables...

"Not my lucky day” - thought the businessman, as he tried to reassemble cables of the router in a rush. It was almost 10 o`clock, the DRM meeting had already started and he did not want to miss the warm-up part of the meeting, where he could chat with other participants and have online cup of coffee together (FIKA). Finally! He got his computer running, he pressed “join the meeting” button… And he saw familiar faces on the screen. He unmuted himself and said in a relatively shy voice - Hello guys…

- Oh... Hello Mr. Smith - the hostess of the courses greeted him.

- Please call me just Adam - he said with a smile…




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