Tech Tools for Student Collaboration

With these tools, your students can do much better than this

By Scott Sterling

Collaboration and interpersonal skills are central to the idea of the 21st century student; some of the skills that students will need in order to compete in the global economy. And although we’ve talked a lot about collaboration amongst teachers, including a tech tools article, we’ve barely discussed it in terms of actual pedagogy.

By now, you probably have your file cabinet (or Pinterest board) filled with everything from collaborative assessment strategies like Think-Pair-Share to project-based learning experiences. But let’s see how technology can help students when they are embarking on your rich and fruitful lessons.

Google Drive and apps

Yes, Google Drive is also in the article for teacher collaboration, but it is included here because it solves teachers’ problems when it comes to group work.

The first is making sure everyone has the materials they need to do their part of the project. Share a folder for each group and then one for background materials. Suddenly “I didn’t know what I was supposed to do” and “I lost the template form” are no longer applicable.

The other problem is knowing who did the group’s work. We all know that in every group, someone is not pulling their weight. With Google Drive’s change tracking options, you can see who logged into which documents as well as who contributed what.

Task management

Teachers often don’t think about task management when it comes to the students, but there are so many ways to distribute tasks to the students, schedule their time, and keep the group on the same page.

There is no shortage of task management tools out there, particularly in the app stores. What you’re looking for is one available for as many platforms as possible, including the web, and ease of use so the kids aren’t intimidated by it. Remember the Milk ticks those boxes and is one of the most popular task management systems out there.

LiveBinders

Almost every in-depth project requires research of some sort. The problem with students is that they are only together for one hour in the day and might forget to share what they find outside of class. That’s where LiveBinders come in.

LiveBinders are the electronic equivalent of a folder or 3-ring binder. Students in a group simply fill the binder with photos, videos, and links to information that they might need later. They can also share those pieces to other parties who might need them. Now everyone can truly work together using the same information.

SpiderScribe

Students are taught from an early age that brainstorming is an important part of the production process. The facts are that, again, groups are only together for a short period of time during the day and there are only so many white boards in your room. Your typical brainstorm software options, Microsoft’s Project and Visio, are complicated.

Enter SpiderScribe. It makes flow chart production easy and collaborative online. Students simply place text boxes, pictures, and arrows where they need them to visualize the flow of the project. This is especially perfect for students to envisage any sort of presentation or linear production.

Want to go into depth with standards-based lesson planning and cognitively complex tasks? Check out the Learning Sciences International bookstore for resources that help educators make the critical instructional shift required by rigorous standards.

We believe that the most important thing a teacher or leader can do is to fuel each student’s passion for learning. When this is achieved, a lifetime of accomplishment becomes possible for that learner. Through partnerships with schools and districts throughout the country, we help educators and leadership transform each classroom into a powerful learning environment that prepares students for lasting success in school, the global workplace, and beyond. Our vision for the future is big and bright, and we love helping schools get there. Learn more about Learning Sciences International.

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