11 ways to collaborate in real time
This week’s topic in the BlendKit Course is “Blended Content and Assignments.” In that vein I was thinking about ways student groups can work online, and it occurred to me that readers might not be aware of the wide variety of collaboration tools that are available. We’ll start with the basics and save the coolest stuff for last.
Sharing files: You probably already know a tool that lets groups share files. Google Drive, Box, and DropBox are three options. Group members can repeatedly exchange files during a synchronous work session, but that is not always efficient.
Sharing conversation: When groups of learners at different locations get together online, they talk. Phones are fine when there are two collaborators, but tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts let three or more users conference via voice or video.
Sharing a screen: Conferencing software and other tools like Join.me let users share their screens, so group members can see edits as they are made. One student to can “drive” at a time, and they may be able to hand over control of the mouse.
Real-time collaborative editing
Several web-based applications allow multiple learners to work on the same document at one time. Changes are immediately visible to all collaborators. This is the cool stuff; these tools can be very powerful for synchronous group work in many modes of learning. Below is a list of different types of software, with examples of free tools (not necessarily “best of breed”).
- Word processing – Google Docs
- Simple text – Etherpad
- Spreadsheet – Google Sheets
- Presentation – Google Slides, Prezi
- Drawing – Google Drawings
- Bibliography – Zotero (slight delay in syncing)
- Concept mapping – Coggle, Bubbl.us
- Time line – TimeLine.js
- HTML coding – Kobra
- Whiteboard – SketchTogether
- Sticky notes – Realtime Board
The above list is probably not exhaustive. If you know another kind of real-time collaborative online editing tool, please share it in the comments.