Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Collaboration, that good old friend

One key word of the web 2.0 era is collaboration. The term relates to a new way of using the web, with applications that facilitate the sharing of information and building of common spaces by people who work together, are fellow students or haven’t met at all! The social component of web 2.0 is so important that we often refer to it as Internet’s social revolution.

As I was browsing through a couple of blogs and webpages, trying to learn some more about collaboration tools and how to use them in the classroom, I realized that we teachers intuitively know the meaning and acknowledge the value of collaboration in our everyday practice, when we:

  • Encourage participation
  • Create favourable conditions for knowledge and content sharing
  • Propose activities in which interaction is crucial
  • Ask our students to work in pairs or in groups
  • Emphasize the importance of listening and accepting the opinion of others
  • Step back and watch how our students learn from peers in a non-hierarchical structure
  • Offer them tools to negotiate and come to an agreement with their mates
  • Organize projects for them to work together with a common aim

Sooo, good to know this is not new! As with many other things, it’s a matter of applying new tools to our pedagogy (I always favour a pedagogy-first, tool-second approach) and having our eyes and minds open because we might come across some refreshing, challenging  ideas as well!

There’s loads of collaboration tools on the web! I selected a few, which I found interesting and potentially useful to work with in the EFL class (I’ve included others in my Resources section).

Writing, editing, revising

Different people can work on one document simultaneously. Everyone gets their own colour so changes and comments are easy to track.

Several people can work on one document at the same time and the text is synchronized as they type so that everyone sees the same text. You can save revisions and share the document at any stage of the process.

It works as an online multi-user whiteboard that allows audio, chat and file sharing.

It’s a free, open canvas where you can collaborately create presentations and scrapbooks by using videos and other web content. It also allows interactive chat.

Online application centered around the whiteboard. You can draw as you would on a real whiteboard to visualize and share ideas and text.


Create short, beautifully illustrated stories, share and/or print them. 

Intended for children to create, illustrate and publish their own books.

Create stories on a collaborately timeline. You can also add photos and videos.

Web-based tool to easily create and share timelines with pictures and videos.

Use styled templeates to create stories with photos and text.

A digital wall where you can stick and rearrange notes, photos and videos.

Social networking in the classroom

Safe microblogging platform that imitates the way social networking is carried out outside the classroom.

Create and name a chatting room of your own, use live stream to make comments, ask questions and get or provide feedback.

Create a chatting room for you and your students only. Very easy to use.

Class projects

Create a free class website. You can manage different accounts, work on homework and provide feedback online.

Working with words

Your students submit a word and Lexipedia identifies their part of speech, provides definitions and word families.

Web-based tool to create beautifully coloured graphs and Venn diagrams. Once you finish you can save your graph and you are sent a link to see it whenever you like on the site.

Nice tools! Any ideas of specific activities to put them to use?


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