Saturday, June 19, 2010

Collaboration with Online Tools

Collaboration is a key word in the 21st Century Skills framework and serves as a skill that is necessary in the classroom, the workforce and life in general.  There are many tools available to help students, employees and families work together on projects or assignments.  You are not limited to the tools outlined below, but they are ones I have used extensively and would recommend anyone to take a look.

Google Documents
The sharing feature in Google documents makes it a fantastic tool for all walks of life.  Not only is it great for a family to collaborate on a budget, but it is also wonderful for a student to collaborate with a partner on a presentation.  I have worked to plan baby showers, technology conferences, presentations and more using Google Documents.  It's a great way to stay organized and share your thoughts easily with others.

Shared Drawing Tools
There are multiple tools for shared drawing available right now.  I prefer Flockdraw, webspiration or Google Draw (in Documents).  These tools are great for collaborative bubble maps or vision sharing.  Not only can you give a rough drawing of something in your mind, but the person you are working with can manipulate it with their own ideas in real time.

Video/Voice/Text Chat
We've been using chat programs for years but with an increase in distance collaboration, these methods have become an important piece to the puzzle.  I'd rank them from worst to best as text, voice then video.  I've used all three methods while working on various projects.  I know many don't like to do video chats for whatever reason but the simple fact that you can see the non verbal communication of your work partner(s) is worth it.  Many times meaning gets lost in voice and text chat.  Video conferencing takes a lot of the guesswork out of it.  My preferred chatting method is Google with Skype coming in 2nd.

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