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5 Great Web Tools to Enhance Collaboration in Class

April 22, 2015
If anything, web technologies have redesigned the notion of collaboration and  rendered it an open construct independent of any conceivable spatio-temporal constraints. For instance, in our educational context,  possibilities for collaborative learning are bigger than ever before. Teachers and students have at their hands a variety of powerful softwares and web-based tools to help them engage in collaborative learning anytime, anywhere. From popular learning management  systems (LMS) such as Blackboard, Collaborate, and Moodle to social networking websites like Twitter and Google Plus, collaboration opportunities are limitless.

When we talk about collaborative tools we are basically referring to web tools that allow teachers and students to do the following: communicate either synchronously or asynchronously, collaborate in creative ways, engage in interactive discussions, easily share  and access learning resources (i.e documents, PDFs, files, calendars) and many more.To this end, we have curated this list to share with you what we think are some of the best web-based tools to enhance teachers-students collaboration and ultimately, boost students learning.

The first challenge we encountered when we started working on this post is the huge number of platforms that can be placed under category of collaboration. Blogging platforms such as Blogger and Wordpress, social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus, cloud storage tools such as Google Drive and Dropbox are all great tools to use for collaboration but since we have covered several of these titles in previous posts we are only concerned here with the ones that are probably less known among teachers.

1- Collaborize Classroom

Collaborize Classroom is a free online collaborative education platform for students and teachers. Collaborize Classroom is designed to complement classroom instruction and engage students in online activities, assignments and discussions that allow for deeper participation inside and outside the classroom.

2- Padlet

Padlet is a great platform for bookmarking and sharing digital content. Since in its launch a few years ago, Padlet (formerly Wallwisher) has undergone several great updates that make it an ideal tool to use with students in class. Here are some ways you can use Padlet in class:
  • Use it as a backchannel tool where students can post comments and feedback on what they are learning
  • Use is as a brainstorming tool. Create a Padlet wall for the whole class where they can collect and share ideas about a given topic.
  • Students can use it as portfolio where they display their best work.
  • You can use the classroom Padlet wall to post assignments and homework reminders to students.
  • Engage parents in the learning that is taking place in class by inviting them to visit the classroom Padlet wall
  • Aggregate links and other multimedia resources relevant for students learning and post them on the classroom wall for everybody to check
  • Use it as a book review page where students post reviews of the books they read
  • Create walls for major cultural events and holidays of the year and invite students to search for information relevant to each of these events and share them with the class.
  • Classroom Padlet wall can be used as an open space where students engage in group discussions and interactive exchange of ideas.
  • Students can use Padlet for sharing their reflections on what they have learned and what they need help with.
3- Edmodo

Edmodo is a web-based platform that provides a safe and easy way for your class to connect and collaborate, share content, and access homework, grades and school notices. It is like Facebook but in a safe and controlled environment appropriate for school.

4- TodaysMeet
TodaysMeet is a great web tool for creating backchannels with your students. It is very easy and simple to use. You can use it in your class to engage students in sideline discussions and chats around a given topic. The process to set up a backchannel via TodaysMeet is very easy: first, create a room and given it a name and a duration then share the URL of that room with your students and start the chat.

4- Socrative

Engage, assess and personalize your class with Socrative! Educators can initiate formative assessments through quizzes, quick question polls, exit tickets and space races all with their Socrative Student app. Socrative will instantly grade, aggregate and provide visuals of results to help you identify opportunities for further instruction. Save time and visualize student understanding

5- MindMeister

This is a very good that students can use to create, share and collaboratively edit their mind maps. MindMeister is deeply integrated into Google Drive, allowing users to open and edit many mind map formats.