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Collaboration Tools For Classrooms…

Web 2.0 has revolutionized the education world and brought the world closer. Web 2.0 site allows its users to interact with other users or to change website content, in contrast to non-interactive websites where users are limited to the passive viewing of information that is provided to them

Today, teachers are using the Web 2.0 tools to introduce lessons in their classroom. Students are collaborating with other students around the world, creating online content and displaying their work to a global world. Web 2.0 facilitates professional collaboration, networking, critical thinking, collaboration, innovation, creativity, global understanding and multicultural learning. Various tools for collaborative writing and editing, private communication, online conferencing, file sharing, and desktop sharing enable teachers to effectively collaborate with the students beyond school hours thus making optimum use of the technology available.

Google Drive: Google Drive is a free service provided by Google to its users. It serves as an excellent application for collaboration where teachers and students can use it to share documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Professionals can too collaborate with their teams and clients in real-time. Another idea is to use Google Drive as a note-taking tool while in class and lectures.

Classroom from Google: Now available in 42 languages, Classroom gives teachers access to a content management system that allows them to post updates and homework assignments, add and remove students from their classes, and provide them with feedback (including grades). 

Skype: Skype is an application that allows making voice calls over the Internet (the technology is called Voice over Internet Protocol – or VoIP) that is completely free of cost. Apart from VoIP, Skype also offers in-built features for instant messaging (IM), video conferencing, and file sharing. Skype also launched Skype in the Classroom, a dedicated teacher network. Using the platform, teachers can create profiles that describe their classes and teaching interests. They can also search a directory of teachers from all over the world by student age range, language and subject.

Mind Mapping Tool: A mind map is a visual tool that helps build up around a central idea by creating branches like a tree whereby each branch symbolizes a thought process of an individual using different words. A mind map provides a pictorial image of your thoughts and hence helps to assimilate them. This is especially very useful for teachers and students whereby teachers can use mind maps to evaluate students’ logical bent of mind, creativity and their thought process. For students it serves as a tool to graphically put their thoughts together. Bubbl.us, for example is a simple free online application that allows brainstorming easily by creating a mind map for any topic.

Wridea: Wridea is a brainstorming tool that enables one to collaborate and share ideas with colleagues, students, and fellow learners and organize and categorize ideas onto different pages, providing unlimited storage, and also allowing users to comment on topics and ideas. Features of Wridea are:

Diigo: Diigo is a social bookmarking site that can be used by researchers to mark and highlight pages on the World Wide Web. The can even add footnote remarks, make notes or add comments to these pages and access them later from any computer . “Diigo” is an abbreviation for “Digest of Internet Information, Groups and Other stuff”.

Audio Pal: This is a free site to create audio files where voice can be recorded by phone or microphone and uploaded as an audio file. It can also create audio from text to speech.

Gliffy: Gliffy is an online diagram software for creating professional-quality flowcharts, diagrams, floor plans, technical drawings, and more. The online diagram editor makes it easier than ever to create great looking drawings. The power of graphics organizers has been verified by research in promoting strong thinking skills and comprehension for all ages. It is a free online tool for creating graphic organizers without purchasing any software. Teachers and students can create the organizers or the class can create them together, such as in a brainstorming session on any topic.

Blogs: The core tool that often gets overlooked because it’s not as glitzy and tends to be viewed as a little older.

Social Networks: Social networks do blogs one better by making the conversation between users instantaneous. That on-the-spot feedback makes social networking more suited for educators to connect and share resources with contacts outside their classroom or institution.

Synchronous live platforms: Tools like WebEx and Adobe Connect, can be referred to as live meetings, web meetings, or webinars. Whatever you choose to call them, they provide a virtual venue for online collaborative experiences that play out in real time–similar to a virtual classroom or meeting room.

SlideRocket: SlideRocket has all of the capabilities of presentation software such as PowerPoint or Keynote, but exists on the web, which gives it a great advantage in the education setting. Teachers can create multimedia presentations that supplement their lessons, share the presentation with their students via a hyperlink, and then track which students viewed the presentation as well as how long they spent looking at each slide.

SchoolFusion: A website development and hosting solution, SchoolFusion is designed for K-12 schools to use templates to build “fusion pages,” or websites, for individual classrooms, student clubs, academic and administrative departments, or other community, alumni, and faculty functions that may call for one. Web 2.0 tools are woven into SchoolFusion’s web pages, giving teachers instant access to collaborative instruments such as wikis, blogs, messaging, podcasts, and streaming video.

Smilebox: The Smilebox Teacher’s Toolbox program is a teacher’s digital companion for creative classroom communication. Teacher’s Toolbox gives teachers at all grade levels an easy and creative way to safely share photos, videos, and classroom updates to students and parents.

Edu 2.0. EDU 2.0 is a lot like online course management systems Blackboard and Moodle, but with a couple of distinct advantages. First, teachers can share their lesson plans, quizzes, videos, experiments and other resources in a shared library that currently hosts more than 15,000 pieces of content. Second, a community section allows teachers and students to network and collaborate with other members who share the same educational interests. And third, everything is hosted in the cloud for free.

SymbalooEDUhe new EDU version comes with academic subject-specific resource pages or “webmixes” and top tools like TeacherTube, Slideshare, Google Docs, Flickr and more are fully embeddable. Teachers with a “Free Plus” account can add their school logo and customize the links. The site also allows students to easily share their Symbaloo pages and projects with classmates.

Edublogs. This WordPress-like blogging platform only supports educational content. Since 2005, it has hosted more than a million blogs from students and teachers. Common uses for blogs in classrooms include group projects, reflection journals, school newspapers, class web pages and parent newsletters.

Kidblog. Kidblog is a bit more specific than Edublogs. There are fewer options to adjust the appearance of the main page, and it’s hard to use the platform for anything other than as a system for managing individual class blogs. The homepage serves as a catalog of student blogs on the right with a recent post feed on the left. Having said that, if you want to introduce individual class blogs to your K-8 classroom, this is the perfect tool for it.

EdmodoEdmodo looks and functions much like Facebook. But unlike Facebook, it’s a controlled environment that teachers can effectively leverage to encourage class engagement. The platform allows teachers and students to share ideas, files and assignments on a communal wall. Teachers can organize different groups of students and monitor them from the same dashboard. Once they’ve organized classes, they can post assignments to the wall and grade them online. They can then archive the class groups and begin new ones.

By using the above tools, the teaching learning process can be made interesting enabling both the teachers and students to collaborate, work and share together. Indeed Web 2.0 has revolutionized the education world and brought the world closer.

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