14 Group Work & Collaboration Tools

Decorative: 4 humanoid figures putting together a jigsaw

 

A. "Types of Tools: Group Work & Collaboration" (web page) links to the following options/tools to assist "a powerful instructional strategy that encourages deep engagement with content through active and social learning." 

  • The brief introductions in this post include answers to "What Is It?" and "What Can It Be Used for?"  for each option/tool.

1. For each tool listed, the links provide the following:

  • An overview
  • Instructions for getting started
  • Suggestions for applications to courses
  • Additional resources
  • An accessibility statement.

2. The tools presented:

B. The Tools/Options: Brief Introductions (fuller descriptions at each link)

1. Collaborative/Peer Editing

a. What Is It?

  • "[A] group of students who edit a document together ... simultaneously in a face-to-face environment or in a[n] [online] environment by using collaborative tools such as IM, and Whiteboards"
  • "[C]an also be accomplished asynchronously by using tools such as Discussion Boards and e-mail" 

b. What Can It Be Used for?

  • "[P]rojects, papers, presentations, and wikis"
  • "[C]o-author[ing] papers and projects"
  • "[T]ak[ing] 'community notes' thus improving quality and consistency of note-taking"
  • "Streamlin[ing] the authoring and revision process"
  • "[P]romot[ing] coherence, structure, and stability in the document; increas[ing] the quality of the content"
  • "Increas[ing] communication abilities of students by requiring students to negotiate and collaborate"
  • "Allow[ing] for users to keep and learn from prior versions of the content"
  • "Establish[ing] a sense of community among learners participating at a distance"

2. Discussion Boards

a. What Is It?

  • "[A] virtual forum for holding discussions and posting content"
  • "[A]synchronous forums that resemble bulletin boards and blogs ... [on which] [i]nstructors and/or students can create topics called 'threads' and can then post comments, media, and information under the thread and in response to other users"

b. What Can It Be Used for?

  • "Allow[ing] instructors to assess class participation ... [and] understanding of a concept or topic"
  • "[C]reat[ing] a learning community"
  • "[T]ak[ing] the place of lectures ... creat[ing] a situation in which the instructor is viewed as a 'guide on the side' rather than a 'sage on the stage'"
  • Having "[g]uest 'speakers' ... can participate in question and answer sessions ... in asynchronous time"
  • "Giv[ing] students who might not otherwise participate a safe environment to voice opinions"
  • Allowing students to "participate in groups to present on a topic ... [or] collaborate to present and defend an argument"

3. ePortfolios

a. What Are They?

  • "[A]n electronic collection of evidence that shows the learners' journey over time using [a] digital platform"
  • "A portfolio can be used by an instructor for assessment purposes and can also be used for earning accreditation and certifications, job searches, and professional development."

b. What Can They Be Used for?

  • Students:
    • "Display[ing] their best work"
    • "Gather[ing] an overview of their educational experience"
    • "Shar[ing] their work with friends, future employers, parents, and other instructors"
    • "Foster[ing] a sense of coherence across multiple courses, illustrating how the coursework fits together as a whole"
  • Assessment: 
    • "[F]ormative and summative assessment for instructors to assess student growth over a period of time
    • "[S]ummative assessment for instructors and academic advisors to assess the overall quality of a student’s work"
    • "[R]aw material from which to demonstrate with real-world artifacts how the academic experiences maps onto professional competencies"

4. Group Critiques

a. What Is It?

  • "[A] method of analysis in which a group of people critique a work, project, or assignment and give feedback to the creator"
  • "[G]roups can be given a rubric to aid them in the critique process or the critique can be based solely on opinion, as is traditional with writing workshop critiques."

b. What Can It Be Used for?

  • "Allow[ing] the instructor to see what learning has already occurred on the part of the student(s) ... [and] view the growth of the student over a period of time"
  • "Encourag[ing] positive communication skills among students"
  • "Giv[ing] formative feedback that allows the student to revise a project or assignment"
  • "Giv[ing] the creator alternative opinions, viewpoints, or ideas"
  • "Allow[ing] the student to try out ideas on an audience prior to finishing a project or assignment"
  • "Encourag[ing] students to critically view their own and others’ works".

5. Mapping Mashups

a. What Is It?

  • "[A] website or application that combines information from multiple sources into a single cohesive use"
  • "[T]he use of mapping tools such as Google Maps Engine, Google Earth, or Mapquest MapBuilder to compile data onto a map with markers, text, pictures, audio, video, or online resources"
  • "Some mapping sites, such as Google Maps, can function as social software, thus allowing multiple people to edit or contribute to the map."
  • "Additionally, many mapping sites will allow information to automatically populate using RSS feeds in order to create dynamic changing maps."

b. What Can It Be Used for?

  • "Provid[ing] a physical context for data by integrating technology, geographic reference, and text or media-based information"
  • "Allow[ing] multiple media such as text, audio, video and hyperlinks to be assigned to each map marker"
  • "Interactive presentation provid[ing] visual, kinesthetic, and possibly aural roles in learning"
  • "Encourag[ing] active participation [and] [p]romot[ing] student collaboration as part of a group project or presentation"
  • "Interactive presentations in the place of [a] recorded lecture"
  • "Multimedia projects that require compiling data in geographical locations"
  • "Research projects that provide a geographical context for information"

6. Mind Maps

a. What Is It?

  • "[V]isual representations of a central topic and its relationship(s) to other themes and concepts"
  • "A non-linear approach to learning and problem-solving ... prompt[ing] learners to think critically and to create illustrations of relationships in a visual-spatial representation"

b. What Can It Be Used for?

  • "[D]iscussions, brainstorming sessions, problem-solving, concept development, analysis, and note-taking"
  • "Organiz[ing] and prepar[ing] lecture notes ... [and] [m]ap[ping] course content"
  • "Elicit[ing] and organiz[ing] student responses ... [and] [i]dentify[ing] gaps in student learning"
  • "Summariz[ing] and organiz[ing] notes ... [and] [s]tudy[ing] for exams and quizzes"
  • "Prepar[ing] for and participat[ing] in group work"
  • "Work[ing] through complex problems"
  • "Outlin[ing] content to prepare for papers and presentations ... [and] [i]llustrat[ing] content"
  • "[I]llustrat[ing] knowledge ... that requires recall, identification, definition, and/or description of key terms and concepts in any course"
  • Showing "understanding ... that requires descriptions and explanations of characters and themes ... associating evidence, data, and experiments with laws of physics; or contrasting the characteristics of major ... movements"
  • "[E]xplain[ing] evaluations ... that orde[r], apprais[e], and judg[e] arguments and evidence ... that discriminat[e] between options and summarizes significant data ...that articulat[e] an argument, with support"
  • "[D]emonstrat[ing] creation ... that adapts, modifies, and rearranges previously recorded data according to new concepts ... that generalizes extensive datasets to a few overarching categories or concepts ... that illustrates a complex hypothesis, along with variables and constants"

7. Photo Sharing Websites

a. What Are They?

  • Sites that "allow users to upload, store, edit, organize, and share photos ..., connect individuals with others through comments, tags, keywords, or descriptions, ... [and] create photo blogs or slideshows of images ... [with] the option to title the photo, edit the photo, or add a caption"
  • Users "embed the image in a website, link to the image, email the image, or instant message the image."

b. What Can They Be Used for?

  • "[S]lide shows" that can be "downloaded, printed out and e-mailed"
  • "[S]tor[ing], search[ing], sort[ing], and shar[ing] photos ... activities, resources, and research"
  • "[E]mbed[ding] hotspot areas with pop-up messages and links into an image"
  • Using "[p]hoto tags ... for greater organization and [to] streamlines searches"
  • Providing "[c]omments ... [for] insightful and personal feedback"

8. Social Bookmarking (Closely related but not identical in use to Social Citations [9] and Social Libraries [10])

a. What Is It?

  • The "storing, sorting, classifying, sharing, and searching through a collection of bookmarked links of web pages, images, videos, and audio files that are stored on the Internet"
  • This "occurs through an application or website where the user is able to bookmark a piece of information and store it on the internet for personal use, to share with a friend or group, or for public viewing."

b. What Can It Be Used for? (several of these uses are applicable to the next two social tools as well)

  • "Provid[ing] a constantly evolving list of internet-based resources"
  • Compiling "[b]ookmarked and tagged resources ... allowing users to see which resources are tagged by the most people"
  • "Stor[ing] resources for access by individuals, groups, or the public"
  • "[R]ecommend[ing] resources to others"
  • "Bookmark[ing] and tag[ging] resources for students to access during the semester .. [which] can then be made available to subsequent sections of the class and continuously modified"
  • "Requir[ing] students to bookmark and tag resources for bibliographies, works cited, and literature reviews"
  • "Require students ... to tag important works to create a library"
  • "[P]roject[s] which students must find reliable internet sources related to a course topic and tag them in a social bookmarking site"
  • "Evaluat[ing] the resources as a class activity: hav[ing] students work in groups and evaluat[ing] the resources of other groups, or hav[ing] students evaluate the resources of other students individually.

9. Social Citations (Closely related but not identical in use to Social Bookmarking [8] and Social Libraries [10])

a. What Is It?

  • The "storing, sorting, classifying, sharing and searching through a collection of internet-based bookmarked links of citable sources such as e-journals, news articles, academic studies and interviews"
  • "[S]imila[r] to social bookmarking sites but are intended to be used for the collection of academic and citable resources"
  • "The tags of all users are compiled together in order to create a searchable folksonomy of information within the social citation site ... allow[ing] academics researching or interested in similar areas to connect and share resources."

b. What Can It Be Used for? (See Social Bookmarking [8] for related uses)

  • "[S]earch[ing] within a keyword phrase or tag to find citations posted by other users or can add information under a tag to increase and strengthen the folksonomy"
  • "[S]har[ing] their library with others and find[ing] out who is reading the same papers"
  • "[D]iscover[ing] literature which is relevant to their field but may have been unknown to them"
  • "Stor[ing] resources for access by individuals, groups, or the public"
  • "[A]utomatically extract[ing] citation details in MLA or APA formats"
  • "[E]xport[ing] their library to either BibTeX or Endnote to aid in building a bibliography"
  • "Cit[ing] and tag[ging] resources for students to access during the semester as part of required readings, extra credit readings, or class resources ... [then] mak[ing] [these] available to subsequent sections of the class and continuously modified"
  • "Requir[ing] students to bookmark and tag resources for bibliographies, works cited, and literature reviews"

10. Social Libraries (Closely related but not identical in use to Social Bookmarking [8] and Social Citations [9]; see these for related uses)

a. What Is It?

  • "[A] website that allows users to keep track of and catalog media collections ... share their collections, keep lists and wish lists, and network with users that have similar interests"

b. What Can It Be Used for? (see two entries above [or this post] for related uses in "Application to All Courses")

  • "[H]elp[ing] users discover resources that are relevant to their interests or field of study but may have been unknown to them"
  • "[S]earch[ing] within a keyword phrase or tag to find media posted by other users or can add media under a tag to increase and strengthen the folksonomy"
  • "[B]ookmark[ing] and tag[ging] books for use in bibliographies, works cited, and literature reviews"
  • "[T]ag[ging] important media works to create an individual student or whole course library ... for] critiquing works"

11. VoiceThread

a. What Is It?

  • "[A] cloud-based web application that allows users to post media such as a document, slide show, video, or photo collection that can be commented on by a community and then converted into a flash-based animation"
  • "Comments can be made by microphone, webcam, text, audio file or telephone."
  • "Users can write (or doodle) on the media while commenting, can utilize multiple identities, and can choose which comments are shown in the slideshow."

b. What Can It Be Used for?

  • "[A]synchronou[s] [discussion] around images, websites, videos, and more"
  • "Gaug[ing] areas in which students are succeeding or in areas in which they may need remediation"
  • "Hear[ing] the student’s tone and enthusiasm level as well as intonations" 
  • "Formatively evaluat[ing] student speech and comments"
  • "Replac[ing] static lecture[s] with interactive lecture[s] that both the instructor and student can participate in in an asynchronous time frame"
  • "Gain[ing] the attention and motivat[ing] learners who learn by auditory, visual, and kinesthetic means"
  • "Encourag[ing] collaboration among students and instructors"
  • "[L]anguage practice, asynchronous conversations, presentations or speeches, storytelling, reflection, ... asynchronous discussions on a topic or creat[ing] a presentation ... in the foreign language"
  • "[I]nteractive assignments in which the students can collaborate on a presentation, timeline, report, or more"
  • "[D]ebat[ing] asynchronously and illustrat[ing] points using various media"
  • "Hav[ing] students respond by posing questions, providing additional information or resources, discussing interesting points, and so on".

12. Web Conferencing

a. What Is It?

  • "[M]eetings or live presentations over the Internet ... [in which]  each participant is connected to the other participants in real-time via the Internet."
  • "Most webinars also include audio communication through audio conferencing or voice over IP and can sometimes include text chat ... [and] can include slide presentations, file sharing, video, and surveys."

b. What Can It Be Used for?

  • "[R]eplac[ing] lectures in [online] classes or augment[ing] activities in face-to-face classes.
  • "[P]articipat[ing] in synchronous discussions and web presentations"
  • "[D]ynamic distance presentations that allow audio, video, and student participation"
  • "[G]reater information sharing ... [and] greater context to information in a rich environment"

13. Whiteboards

a. What Is It?

  • "'[C]omputer software applications that function like dry-erase boards ... allow[ing] one or more people to write or draw on the whiteboard simultaneously ... a common collaboration tool in [online] education."

b. What Can It Be Used for?

  • "Participation"
    • "Virtual brainstorming exercises"
    • "Allow[ing] students to write on the whiteboard for examples and presentations"
  • "Visual Presentations"
    • "[R]eplac[ing] the traditional whiteboard or chalkboard" online or in the classroom"
    • (Recorded) lectures, examples, illustrations, online notes, tutoring sessions, etc.
    • "[Ta]k[ing] [and annotating] screen captures, group objects ... pre-made presentations"
    • "[M]anipulat[ing] objects on the screen"
  • See uses for VoiceThread (12) and Web Conferencing above (13): many of those applications are relevant here as well.

14. Wikis

a. What Are They?

  • "[A] type of website that permits users to edit available content. ... making it easy to correct mistakes and, through collaboration, difficult to make mistakes."
  • "The theory is that a large audience will overall provide more accurate information than a single expert or source." 

b. What Can They Be Used for?

"Some ways in which a wiki could be utilized in regular, large enrollment, or online & hybrid courses include":

  • "[A] repository of information such as definitions, descriptions of theories, encyclopedia entries, research data and more" - "including links, images, music, and videos" as well as documents
  • "[A] platform for group projects thus allowing for revision history, tracking who is contributing to a project, and the provision of a collaborative interface" - also collaboration, peer-edting, peer-evaluation of documents, social annotation and collective close reading
  • "[A] repository of information across courses or semesters."
  • "[A] training manual with instructions such as how to perform tasks. Allow students to edit the manual to improve it for future students"
  • A substitute for "presentation software such as PowerPoint"

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