Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Cloud for Collaboration

One of the most relevant tools for increasing engagement in online courses has been proved to be the interpersonal connection, which is strongly supported with the use of collaboration as format for formative assessments and practices.
Based on the feedback I have received from my online students over the years, they always loved the opportunity to feel being part of a class and sharing ideas and experiences with their peers.
Usually LMSs offer opportunity for fostering collaboration among students. For Moodle users some build-in tools for collaborations are the forums, great for class discussions, the glossaries, good tools Poodles offer the opportunity for collaboration using voice or video recordings - however, based on my experience, they can be giving some technical challenges sometimes.
for collaborative activities on specific topics;
With Canvas the build-in collaborative tool is the discussion. A very nice feature of this tool is the option of assigning peers review of the post either manually or randomly, which means that each student is given the name(s) of the person(s) they need to interact with. This helps in pushing students toward reading and commenting on posts of people they do not know and that they might not have chosen on their own.

My favorite collaborative tool that I have been using for several years is VoiceThread. The best way  I can explain what this tool does, is defining it as PowerPoint on steroids! You can use still images or videos individually or in a slide show, and students can comment on each frame typing or recording their voice or video. Everyone can listen to other people's posts and they can build in or comment. I have used this tool in various ways: mostly I used for recreating the classroom interaction with my students in the target language. What I like so much about this tool is that is so versatile and I can use it for my interactions with students as class while each of them can listen to what other students are saying. For foreign languages online courses this is a great asset!

Other tools that I have been using include Google Doc/Google Drive for , Blackboard Collaborate, and Microsoft Lync.

Researching on the Internet for resources I have found several websites providing a lot of good resources. Those that I would like to recommend are Kathy Schrocks - Guide to Everything
and EmergingTechEd. These sites present a very good variety of tools for promoting collaboration.
One tool that I have found on these sites that I have not yet yet but that I find intriguing to try is

I am not quite sure how to implement this tool to my courses, but I think that it would be a good tool for reviewing language structures in peer groups. I will play with it and I will add more ideas for using in another post.


  1. Thanks for the ideas, Emanuela! The voicethread site looks pretty neat. Does your school have an account or do you have any cost savings tips for a frugal fella such as myself?

    1. Brian - My district provide me with a teacher and students accounts because I use this tool extensively. However I believe that you can create content with a free account, and your students can create their free accounts for commenting. I am pretty sure that you content would be public to anybody to see, but with some guidance to students for protecting their privacy, it should work. :)