“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking”. – R Buckminster Fuller, author, inventor, architect, futurist.
The education industry was taking baby steps to embrace digital learning during the last couple of years. However, the spread of the global pandemic of COVID-19 has now made both students and teachers resort to e-learning in an attempt to continue the learning process.
As millions of schools, colleges, and universities in various countries are shut down as a precautionary measure, remote learning has become a new trend. And this doesn’t seem to be a temporary, occasional hiccup in the way of the traditional education process. In fact, it might emerge as a future trend.
The one thing that has helped teachers and students make this switch has been – collaboration tools, which are being used by the teachers as well as the students to make sure either of them doesn’t face problems during online teaching sessions.
Problems? What problems could there be in the days of fast internet connectivity and the latest gadgets, most of you must be thinking right now. But digital learning is more than having an internet connection and the latest smartphones.
Some common problems faced by learners as well as educators during online learning are:
- Transitional Struggle (from a traditional classroom to computer-based training)
- Technical Problems (slow internet connection, poor bandwidth)
- Time Management (Poor scheduling)
- Loss of Motivation
- Setting and Forgetting Online Learning Activities
I have found out that in the lack of good collaboration, there will be problems (and plenty of them). Whether it’s remote working or remote learning, seamless coordination is the key to eventual success.
In this article, I have conducted extensive research and picked the best 5 free online collaboration tools that deliver a wide range of functionality to help learners and educators stay on the same page during digital teaching sessions.
I am only listing free tools because that’s what both teachers and students would love to use in these times when everyone is looking for ways to save some bucks! There’s something in these tools for everyone! Read on to know more about it.
NEO LMS is a powerful digital learning management system (LMS) that incorporates all the learning tools that are essential to support effective and efficient e-Learning. Appreciated for its user-friendly interface and wide array of features, this tool can help educators enable effective interaction with learners and streamline the facilitation of online courses.
- Classroom management
- Fully responsive design works well on all devices
- Communication tools: GoToMeeting, Zoom, WebEx, CometChat
- Synchronous learning
- Learner portal
- Skills tracking
- Drag and drop washboard widgets
- Saves time on teaching activities
- Enjoyable learning experience
- Reduces LMS costs
- Improves student engagement
- Easy to navigate
- Mobile app could be better
- Free trial is available
- Premium plan is available on quote
ProofHub is one of the best collaboration tools for teachers and students. Whether you are struggling as a teacher with scheduling of classes and coordinating with students effectively, or you are students struggling with poor time management, lack of instant communication, and disorganized files and folders, ProofHub can help you get rid of the aforementioned woes in no time.
Featuring a set of powerful collaboration tools in one centralized location, ProofHub allows both students and teachers to share a common platform to collaborate efficiently. This tool can be used by teachers and students to bring all files and communication at one central place.
- To-do lists
- Real-time notifications
- Group chat
- Affordable pricing
- Easy to navigate
- Simplifies task assignment
- Eliminates the need to use multiple tools
- Saves time, saves money
- Improves coordination and communication
- Has limited integrations as they are under development
- Free 14-day trial is available
- Essential plan is for $45 per month
- Ultimate control plan is for $89 per month (limited time offer)
Skype is one of the most popular tools used for virtual learning by a large number of educational professionals and learners across the globe. It is an outstanding free of cost resource for teachers and students to collaborate through different modes – video conferencing, calling, texting, document, and image sharing.
- Group video calls
- GroupScreen sharing
- Voice messaging
- Send files
- Video messaging
- Send texts
- Instant messaging
- Operates on all devices
- Offers a plethora of communication channels
- Easy to install and use
- Improves engagement in students
- Little to no learning curve
- Limited set of features
- If you’re not connected, it’s unusable
Podio is a popular collaboration software that helps students and teachers organize and communicate things to facilitate the completion of tasks and projects. This collaboration tool tracks and organizes communication in one place to enable easy monitoring by teachers.
With content, conversations, and processes structured and together on one tool, Podio creates the focus and clarity teachers and students need to get their best work done.
- Automated workflows
- Data visualization
- Unlimited storage
- Task management
- Web and mobile compatible
- Personal dashboards
- Ability to customize databases and workflows
- Easy organization of important projects and assignment topics
- Simple user interface
- Simple yet powerful
- Saves time
- Easy to learn and use
- Can be tedious to set up initially
- Can be confusing for some users
- Free trial is available
- Basic plan is for $9
- Plus plan is for $14
5. Google Drive
Google Drive is perhaps the most commonly used online collaboration tool that is primarily used for organizing and storing photos, videos, documents, etc. all in one place. You can easily access anything from your computer or mobile device and comes with tools and features that promote effective collaboration between students and teachers.
- Cloud-based application
- 15 GB storage space
- Third-party apps
- File viewing
- Quick access
- Accessibility to the visually impaired
- You can access files from any location
- Easy editing of files
- Compatible with a wide range of devices
- Easy sharing and collaboration of files
- Ease of navigation
- Easy file storage and organization
- Limited to Gmail
- Transferring files from one user account to another could be made easier
In The End
Whether it’s a virtual office or digital classroom, without good collaboration there’s no room for effective coordination. In these times when e-Learning is the new norm, both students and teachers need to use the best collaboration tools to make sure there’s clarity, focus, and purpose in learning. I sincerely hope that using one of these tools would improve the quality of your learning process and both the learner and the educator would be satisfied with the results. Good luck!