• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Finally, you can manage your Google Docs, uploads, and email attachments (plus Dropbox and Slack files) in one convenient place. Claim a free account, and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) can automatically organize your content for you.


Collaboration Tools

Page history last edited by Roxann Nys 9 years, 1 month ago

 Teacher/Student and Student/Student Collaboration Tools

Looking for tools for classroom to classroom collaboration? Check out my wiki page:  Videoconferencing-Connecting, Communicating, Collaborating


General guidelines for using collaborative tools in the classroom

(adapted from "Boston Public Schools: 21st Century Learning Tools for the Classroom")

  1. Receive permission from your principal before implementing any online collaborative project with your students.
  2. Make sure all students and parents have signed your district's Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and that the document is on file at the school.
  3. Send a letter home to parents explaining what the project is and the expected learning goals of the students. Give parents the option to opt their students out of the project if they do not feel comfortable with it.
  4. Before you begin the project, take the opportunity to educate students about appropriate use of online tools and discussions. For more information about cybersafety, check out Netsmartz.org or StaySafeOnline.org's many free lessons and teaching materials and related resources. For even more info, check out my Delicious bookmarks related to Internet safety.
  5. Keep in mind your responsibility regarding student confidentiality. At no time should confidential student information be made available on an any collaborative online site (No matter how private you think it is!) Limit students' pages to first name, last initial at most.
  6. If you are allowing people to comment on your wiki or blog, please set it up so that you moderate those comments before they are published as this will help to eliminate any inappropriate or spam comments being added.
  7. Student work and pictures of students should not be posted unless you have explicit parental consent pertaining to this project. All last names should be omitted from pictures posted online.


Google Sites

From building a website to just collaborating on individual documents, Google has an amazing array of resources ready-made for collaboration.

Blogger and 30 year educator, Jeff Thomas, shares some great 3-10 minute video tutorials on how to build a Google website (and incorporate other Google tools within it) for teacher/student (or student/student) for collaboration, using a template he created. Easy peasy, the way Jeff explains it!


For yet more info on how to use Google Apps, check out my wiki page for Google Apps for Education



An amazing tool for collaboration, VoiceThread just keeps getting better! Plain text commenting just doesn't cut it---what did they really mean? ;-) :-D :-> :-)

"M5 commenting" is VoiceThread's answer to building collaboration around any resource you and your students want to share:

"With VoiceThread, group conversations are collected and shared in one place from anywhere in the world. All with no software to install.

A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways - using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too.

Users can doodle while commenting, use multiple identities, and pick which comments are shown through moderation. VoiceThreads can even be embedded to show and receive comments on other websites and exported to MP3 players or DVDs to play as archival movies."


Yes, there is a cost, but for just $15 a month (or $60 for the full year) you and up to 50 of your students can find new ways to share ideas! For about $1/student and teacher, your school can purchase a School Subscription.


Need research to support your request for funding? VoiceThread has compiled a useful list for you.


Collaborize Classroom

Free to sign up!  Students don't need any email addresses to access your classroom site.

Here are the Collaborize Classroom site features

Here are lots of good resources (including short videos) to get you started using the site you create.



There is a lot of discussion (and controversy!) going on about using FaceBook for educational purposes. If your district says NO! then your decision is already made. If not, and MANY districts are saying "Yes" to Facebook use, here are some resources that can help you get started.  Here's a FaceBook FAQ--"As an educator, how can I maintain a professional presence on the site separate from my personal profile (timeline)?"  Facebook offers several options that will allow you to do this. You can:

  • Create a list specifically for your students. This will allow you to control which parts of your profile (timeline) are visible to your students, keep track of the list’s activity separately, and send bulk messages — like homework assignments and invites — to the group all at once.

  • Create a pageMs. Smith’s 9th Grade Science Class, for example. Pages are great for broadcasting information to people on Facebook. Pages are free, you can control them with your personal profile (timeline), and they keep your profile (timeline) separate from your students. Anyone who "likes" your page will automatically receive updates.

  • Create a group where you and your students can connect, share, and collaborate — American Literature 101 Discussions, for example — or a group where educators in your department can collaborate on lesson plans and share ideas." Here's a good explanation from FaceBook about the differences between a group page and a regular page.


Personally, I recommend creating a group as the most effective way to get students collaborating with you and each other. More great resources about using FB in education are compiled by blogger/educator Jeff Thomas and can be found on his blogpost The Complete Facebook Guide for Educators!

 Note to Spanish teachers: a FB page just for you! http://www.facebook.com/www.donquijote.org?ref=ts%2F 



In many ways, wikis are similar to websites, but much easier to edit. Teachers can easily create a wiki for free using a variety of wiki creation tools. Student pages can be created within a classroom wiki so collaborating is easy for all. If your district doesn't allow Google apps or Facebook, maybe a wiki could be an option.


Wikispaces, one wiki provider, has created a good list of examples of educational wikis--a great place to get some ideas.


SmartPhones in the Classroom

Click on the link to go to my wiki page with lots of ideas and resources. (Poll Everywhere is a great way to start small!)

Twitter is another way to use smartphones (or other mobile devices) for student input/feedback.




"The 21st century calls for knowledge workers who can effectively utilize the vast array of information that resides on the internet and who are capable of processing the information collaboratively with others.  Bob Wolf, of The Boston Consulting Group, and a researcher on the use of internet in public education recently commented: "We believe that Web2.0 technologies will define and be defined by the skill requirements of the 21st century workforce. It is time to understand whether models have emerged for using these tools that are superior to traditional classroom teaching alone and what are the best approaches for the practitioner to implement them."


In the education setting, we all know that project-based learning is an effective way to teach students and cultivate their skills of finding, organizing, synthesizing, and presenting information, as well as the social skills of working in groups, all of which are necessary in the knowledge-based economy. Among the web 2.0 technologies, Diigo is a great tool for this kind of exploratory and collaborative learning.


Diigo is an effective tool for teaching as well. Diigo's features allow teachers to highlight critical features within text and images and write comments directly on the web pages, to collect and organize series of web pages and web sites into coherent and thematic sets, and to facilitate online conversations within the context of the materials themselves.  Diigo also allows teachers to collaborate and share resources among themselves.

Diigo is much more than a simple web annotation or social bookmarking service -- it is a new kind of online research and collaborative research tool that integrates tags and folders, highlighting and clipping, sticky notes, and group-based collaboration, enabling a whole new process of online knowledge management, learning, and teaching in the information age.


Delicious.com--very similar to the basic tools in Diigo. You can bookmark and share bookmarks with anyone, but that's about it. The site recently changed owners and I have had on and off difficulty accessing my account, so not sure about recommending its use...


Grading Collaborative Projects

A difficult subject, to be sure! I do suggest that you include 3 aspects for each grade--a self evaluation, peer evaluation and your own evaluation based on the final project or presentation. Sometimes when peer evaluations are anonymously submitted (consider an online option, possibly?) students may be more frank, but that is not always the case. No matter how you decide to evaluate, group projects are difficult to "grade" in the traditional sense. That doesn't mean that we should shy away from them, however, as more and more employers are looking for workers who are skilled "team players." So, our students need to learn collaborative work skills. If we don't teach them, who will?


Other Cool Ideas!




Assessing Collaborative Learning

Here are some resources you may want to consider as you develop your own methods of evaluating collaborative student work:






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