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Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.

HUMAN KINETICS

Excerpts

Using social networking sites as a team building tool

By Brent D. Wolfe and Colbey Penton Sparkman


The Internet has revolutionized the ways in which many people communicate—what, when, and with whom. People share their life events through pictures; posts on blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and so on; and updates sent to friends they haven’t seen in person in 20 years and even complete strangers around the globe. While driving the information highway, one can learn how to fix a leaky faucet or find the inspiration behind a popular song. Given these vast possibilities, the Internet also serves as the setting for countless instances in which users face communication challenges such as miscommunication, misinterpretation, and misinformation. The activities presented in this chapter encourage users to see the Internet as a tool that they can use for growing in relationship with fellow team members and others by thinking about how pictures, posts, and other information can be interpreted in various ways.

 

Identity Theft

 

Overview

This is another activity that uses social networking sites to help participants explore issues related to relationships. In this case, participants bring information from their social networking pages and take on the role of someone else in the group based on the information provided from that person’s page. One’s identity is ever-changing: Who am I? Who do I want to be? Such questions can have a multitude of answers for young adults, and this activity helps you start a conversation about this rich topic with your group.

Directions

Prior to the session, print each participant’s profile from his or her social networking page; then, as participants arrive for the session, give each person his or her printed profile page and a name tag to wear in a highly visible fashion. If any members of the group do not have a social networking profile, ask them to write the following information on a sheet of paper: favorite music groups, favorite books, favorite TV shows, favorite movies, hometown, and one additional miscellaneous piece of information about themselves.

Once all participants have their profile pages and name tags, have them pair up and exchange profile pages with a person they do not know very well. Each person should select three interesting descriptors about his or her partner from the profile page; for clarification, the partners should briefly discuss these bits of information. Once the pairs have finished their discussions, each person should assume the identity of his or her partner and swap name tags with him or her. Do not swap printed profile pages—discard them at this time. Now, for example, Joe who likes pizza, plays soccer, and hails from Hawaii becomes Jane who plays trombone, scuba dives, and has five brothers—and vice versa.

Next, everyone pairs up with a different person (each participant will pair up with a total of three people during the game). So Joe, whose new identity is Jane, now meets a second person and tells her that his name is Jane and that he plays trombone, scuba dives, and has five brothers. His partner shares similarly about his or her own new identity. The partners should share the information with each other only once, which encourages participants to listen carefully the first time. Then these two partners swap identities with each other and move on to meet one more person with whom they will swap identities. Once the participants have each met three people, they keep the name tag they have ended up with.

At this point, ask everyone to stand in a large circle and have each person take a turn introducing himself or herself in his or her present identity; that is, each participant should share the name and three descriptors of the person whose name tag he or she currently possesses. Once this introduction is complete, the real owner of the name tag should come forward and confirm or correct the information just provided about him or her. The person who just shared then returns the name tag to its owner, and that person shares his or her current assumed identity. Continue this process until all participants have shared their identities.

Focus

Listening and identity: In a world filled with technology, the ability to listen is becoming rarer. In fact, we often just don’t listen very well. We nod our heads and say “uh huh,” but oftentimes we don’t really hear. Technology has also changed the concepts of relationship and identity. People now have Facebook friends—people they have never met in person or, in some cases, even spoken with. This activity highlights the importance of listening and encourages participants to go beyond surface-level conversations. It also encourages participants to address questions related to their own identity. All of us who use social networking pages choose to share pieces of who we are through this medium, but do these descriptions give an accurate picture of who we are? Are we sharing ourselves or creating alter egos on our social networking pages?

Equipment

For each participant: printed social networking profile, name tag, marker pen

Users

10 to 20

Processing

  • Who was most accurate in his or her identity theft? Least accurate?
  • What did you learn about someone else?
  • Why is it important to learn about those around you?
  • How well do you really know the people around you? (Consider friends from social networking sites.)
  • Did the facts shared about you correspond closely with the way you would like to be viewed? How so or how not?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • Describe a time when you have wanted to be someone else.
  • How can we each embrace our own identity?

Go Wireless!

Instead of using social networking profiles, simply ask each participant to think of three distinctive facts about himself or herself. For example, a student might think of these three: I play the trombone, I like to scuba dive, and I have five brothers. To aid in the selection of facts, you could provide fill-in-the-blank statements for each person to complete, and participants’ responses could then become the facts that they share. For example: I’m afraid of . I collect . I always . I never . My favorite place is . My favorite book is .

I have siblings. My favorite movie is . My favorite TV show is . My favorite song is .

Once all participants have determined the three characteristics they will share, ask participants to find someone they do not know well and proceed with the activity according to the original instructions.

Upgrade

You can easily increase the difficulty of this activity by increasing the number of facts that must be remembered or the number of people that each participant must meet. Additionally, once the activity is complete, rather than ask each person to identify herself or himself upon being described by his or her imposter, ask the group to guess who is being described based on the information provided. The rest of the rules remain the same.

This is an excerpt from Team-Building Activities for the Digital Age.



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