Online Collaboration

Collaboration in the Online Community

Online collaborative tools are becoming more and more common, and offer clear benefits for students working at a distance. Students are able to work on their own time while still working as a member of a team, providing feedback and edits that benefit the group as a whole. Online collaborative tools offer several advantages to email and even face-to-face communications.

Online collaborative tools typically allow groups to:

  1. Keep track of all revisions, by user, by date and time
    • Never lose earlier drafts
    • Know who contributed what, and when
  2. Create a knowledge base
    • Information can by added in any order
    • Information can be added asynchronously
  3. Keep a running record of communications
    • All members see all notes

Collaboration Tools to Use in the Classroom

More and more with the increase of student devices, BYOD policies and widespread availablility of wifi throughout schools, the use of collaborative tools has increased dramatically. There is a collaboration tool available for almost all lesson types. Below are a few of the current resources available (mostly free) to educators worldwide.

Google G Suite for Education

A suite of free productivity tools for classroom collaboration including docs, draw, spreadsheet, forms, sites, hangouts, calendar, email and more. G Suite is completely free for schools with 24/7 support, no ads and your data is yours. Enjoy a consistent experience form any computer, tablet, or phone. Work anywhere and anytime you want. Research indicates that by 2020 it is anticipated that Google Education users will reach over 110 million.

Microsoft 365

Students and teachers are eligible for Office 365 for Education, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and now Microsoft Teams, plus additional classroom tools. All you need to get started is a valid school email address.

Common Sense Media's Top Picks for Student Online Collaboration

The link above will take you to Common Sense Media's teacher-tried and vetted top collaboration tools.

Other Favorite Classroom Collaboration Tools

Padlet, Gliffy, Piktochart, Glogster,, Schoology, Edmodo, PowerSchool Learning, Skype, FlipGrid, VoiceThread... and many more!

"Collaboration with Google Docs in the classroom - YouTube." 14 Jan. 2013, Accessed 11 May. 2017.

This video shows how elementary students use Google Docs to write, collaborate, received feedback and share.

Bonk, Curt. Building Community. Retrieved from

Misanchuk & Anderson. (2001). Building community in an online learning environment: communication, cooperation and collaboration. Retrieved from

Ragan, L. (2007, August 24). Best Practices in Online Teaching - Getting Started - Create a Warm and Inviting Atmosphere to Build a Learning Community. Retrieved from the Connexions Web site: