Educators as Collaborators: 25+ Resources

Part of the Cool Sites series

Collaboration is the real step to education transformation. When we gather to produce, our ideas, talents, and skills embody our final outcome. Each person who participates has the ability to add full attention to the designated task versus one person spread thin over several tasks. Collaboration is also important for students who will have to work with others in some capacity to be able to problem solve or brainstorm.

Why Teaching Online Collaboration is Important

While completing my Masters online, I discovered that many people lacked collaboration skills. I observed 20+ global teams in which members fought or offended each other by their lack of communication and team building skills. These skills include having the ability to compromise, lead, meet deadlines, deal with disagreement, and communicate in an effective manner. When we collaborate online many forget that online communication is very different than person to person communication. Sometimes an online message can be misread or come across quite differently than the message we originally tried to communicate.

Why is Online Collaboration Different than Face to Face Collaboration?

Online collaboration is very different than in person collaboration mainly because we don’t have nonverbal cues to support our messages. Many researchers believe that nonverbal communication is as high as 60% to 93% of all communication. This means that a majority of our online messages could be misinterpreted, yet many of us do not communicate with this in mind. When we accidentally offend others we shut down the lines of communication, which jeopardizes the final outcome or our efforts. In our digital world, online collaboration will become increasingly important, yet schools rarely teach students to collaborate online. We can change that by ensuring our students participate in at least one online collaborative project this year. I would love to see the day when schools teach all learners to collaborate effectively with their peers worldwide. We would be able to solve issues like the environment, the economy, and possibly prevent wars. Wow! That’s pretty powerful potential!

Top Collaboration Sites

These are my favorites free tools to get your students and you collaborating! Included is a brief description and helpful links to facilitate using these tools more effectively.

  • Wiggio- Developed by college students this free site has everything from meeting planning, your own whiteboard, updates, group mailing, a calendar, video conferencing room, group text messages, and much more! I love this website. Read more about it in the ILearnTechnology blog.
  • Enter the Group- create project pages and online classrooms for free. Includes features like to-do lists, tasks widget, chat, message boards, group email, file sharing, an online calendar, checklists, blogs, polls, and more!
  • Juntos- communicate in real time through audio, video, and chat. Supports a multivideo chat and scheduling option.
  • iBrainstorm App for iPad and iPhone- Allows up to 4 to collaborate on a brainstorming diagram or group thinking process that can be emailed. Has drawing and writing tools.
  • Scribblar-Real-time multi-user whiteboard, image upload/ download, text chat with userlist, live audio
  • Google Tools for Educators- One of my favorite ways to collaborate! Collaborate in real time to create slideshows, drawings, documents, and more that are on the web and can easily be embedded and organized in folders.
  • Zoho- Collaborate on PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets, word documents, and more. Similar to Google Apps, but shows a condensed view of all recent project activity and includes group chat rooms, forums, wikis, and a tabbed interface.
  • CrocDocs- Collaboratively highlight and comment on PDFs, Word documents, images, and more!
  • Prezi-the alternative to PowerPoint. Create non-linear presentations with images, text, video, and cool transitions. Now with the ability for students to collaborate on one Prezi together in real-time.

Collaborative Document & Whiteboard Tools

  • Twiddla- real time collaboration on documents, websites, and images. Includes writing and drawing tools and audio to talk in real time. No registration needed.
  • Skrbl- Multi user whiteboard that can be embedded. Sketch, text, share files, upload pictures all in one common shared space. No registration required.
  • Groupboard- Free online whiteboard and chat that can be easily embedded into your website. Also is an iPhone, iPad and Android app.
  • Titan Pad- real time collaboration on document that assigns everyone their own color. Includes formatting options like MS Word. No registration needed.
  • Meeting Words- nearly the exact same service as Titan Pad.
  • Type With Me- Like Titan pad with the ability to save as a PDF, website, bookmark, pdf, and more.
  • Writeboard- real time collaboration on document that tracks changes from each person, no registration needed.

Online Sticky Boards

Most of these services allow you more options if you sign-up for free. You can also make your walls of post-its private in all these services.

  • Wallwisher- Put messages up to 160 characters on an online board. Looks like post-its but these can include videos, links, images, and audio. This online board is embeddable which is its best feature. Additionally, you can choose from a variety of backgrounds and pictures from Wallwisher’s library! You don’t have to be registered to post. I love Wallwisher and am registered since I have around 30 walls. The problem is that this service is unreliable and often down so here are other options below.
  • Pindax- Post text, images, and files, also the ability to embed and search your posts! Not as nice looking as Wallwisher but a good alternative.
  • Linoit- Include links, images, video, and audio as well as change the size and color of your fonts. Has various background options and other attractive options. It’s embeddable as well.
  • Stixy- Add tasks, appointments, files, photos, notes, and bookmarks to boards. More options than Wallwisher but doesn’t have an embedding option.
  • Listhings- It’s a corkboard template, but has the ability to change the color of notes and create several note pages! I haven’t found the embed option. Read more about Listhings here.
  • Spaaze- Described as a virtual corkboard, add images, video, and more. No embedding option but does allow you to search content.
  • EditStorm- Brainstorming board that allows collaborators to post ideas on different colored notes. Has an idea bot idea bots that look up related concepts, synonyms and even words that rhyme with any term that has been used. You can also poll ideas but you can’t add video, audio, or images. Some html is supported. There’s also templates to choose from and an iPad/iPhone app. Not embeddable.

More Resources

Challenge:

Use one of these tools to get your students collaborating online this year!

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What collaboration tools do you love?

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, instructional designer, adjunct professor, and the author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching and Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones and BYOT. She has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times, the Ministry of Education in Spain, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as an innovator in the movement of teacher-driven professional development and education technology. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year 2014 by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women and awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, the Twitter chat that spurred over 400 teacher chats. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 25 countries and has consulted with organizations worldwide such as UNESCO Bangkok, The European Union aPLaNet Project, Cultura Iglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, and VenTESOL. She shares regularly via TeacherRebootCamp.com, Twitter (@ShellTerrell), and Facebook.com/shellyterrell. Her greatest joy is being the mother of Rosco the pug.

28 thoughts on “Educators as Collaborators: 25+ Resources

  1. I am currently learning all of the caveats of online teaching and collaboration. It has been a fun learning experience and I am finding that the connection I am making with my students is stronger than what I experienced in face to face classes.

  2. Even though I am not a teacher yet, I agree with the fact that students need different learning experiences and online would be great for them. As a student I can say that new experiences make learning more exciting. I have not heard many of these tools, but it’s great to know about these ‘cool sites’

    1. Nancy,

      It’s so wonderful you are preparing for being a teacher by reading blogs. These tools are all very useful and easy to use. I have tested each one and depending on the task or project they each serve a great purpose! Have fun using them!

  3. This is a great list Shelly. Especially at the pre-k level, the need for communication between teachers and parents is very high. We are bringing on more and more preschools and private schools (much to my excitement as I have a 3 year old and 10 month old at this point) and communication/collaboration tools can give schools a huge edge with staying ahead of the curve. Parents love it!

      1. Glad to contribute Shelly and please do consider MemberHub.com for any future lists. We’re currently serving preschools and private schools. Like I said, the the online collaboration between parents and teachers is really beneficial!

  4. I also had difficulties with Wallwisher over the last few days and finally decided to move my class over to linoit.com.
    I was just wondering why EDU20.org did not make your list? I would also mention Dropbox.com and Box.net which we use at our school.
    I have to agree that Wiggio is a great site and I just can not work out why something that good was not developed earlier.
    Great post Shelly!

    1. Thanks William for sharing those experiences and those sites. I didn’t do Dropbox because it isn’t really real time as much as file sharing. Although, it is one of my favorite tools so thanks for calling attention to it!

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