For the first Portfolio Preparation class I wanted to help the eighteen students and myself get acquainted—and have fun doing it.
Lots of ideas sounded promising in Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers. I combined "Trading Cards" and "Low-Tech Social Network" to end up with what you see on our whiteboard.
Each student got a paper form to create their own personal "trading card". I emphasized that they shouldn't take this too seriously (especially the self-portrait), to have fun.
The idea, of course, was to learn a little about each other, so after about 10 minutes of creating the "cards" we passed them around the room. I told people to keep one that was interesting and that they had a question to ask of its creator.
Since I haven't asked permission to show what the students did, here's what mine looked like.
After a few rounds of Q&A about what was written on the cards, we put them up on two big whiteboards to create a low-tech social network (another suggestion from Game-Storming). We used markers to draw lines connecting our interests.
This is what happens online with Facebook. The software automatically groups you with others based on where you live, went to school, work, etc. You get frequent suggestions that you might want to be "friends" with people based on these common interests. Similarly, anytime you click a button to "Like" an individual or company Facebook page you become part of that group.
Facebook is both mimicking and super-charging the way we form social groups in the real world. Our classroom network was intended to make these connections—and the process itself—visible. I think it did the job. And to complete the circle we set up an actual Facebook group for the class.
Try it yourself
If you'd like to try this game you can download a PDF version of the trading card form I made for class.
You'll notice that instead of a copyright notice there's a Creative Commons license. This means that you are free to reuse my work as long as you adhere to certain restrictions: no commercial use (without permission) as long as you leave the credit notice intact at the bottom.
Please let me know if you try this game in your class or meeting. Click the "Comments" link below to share your experience.