Collaborative Software: Editing student work and group projects just got easier.

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Good news! The following collaborative tools can not only make giving students’ genuine feedback a cinch, but also better facilitate group work among your students. One struggle good instructors face, is creating time for meaningful student feedback. After grading 50 papers, it is easy to give in to a cross-eyed, writers cramp induced stupor and simply write C+ without any useful comments to help your student improve. At the same time, group work might no longer send such a shudder up your students’ spines, as the same useful resources might mean students effectively collaborate from anywhere regardless of the time of day. Check out the following learning technologies to make your and your students’ lives a whole lot easier.

Google Drive
Google Drive allows you to store, share and edit media in real-time for free! Google Drive allows you to access your files from anywhere you can get the internet which eliminates carting a flashdrive around and gives you a safe place to backup your files in case one or more of your mobile devices has a issue. Additionally, Drive can share specific content with others, making it a great way to get information to students, for students to collaborate on group work, or have students turn in their assignments for easier feedback. Google Drive edits in real-time, so changes being made in shared documents are seen by all parties as they are made. When a student’s work is edited, you can simply email the student with a link to the edited document, giving them feedback instantly and making revisions easier for both of parties.

Voicethread is designed to create conversations around media including documents, images or videos. Voicethread users can participate in a conversation via telephone, webcam, microphone, text or file upload. Users can draw while speaking for emphasis or illustration as they interact with the group. Much more provocative than regular class forums, Voicethread’s visual interface is a great way to illicit student input about a controversial topic, work of art or other course material. This platform can be a powerful tool to help teach your students how to have civil digital interactions, track classroom discussion participation and allow the classroom to benefit from fellow students’ ideas.

Mixable is a classroom centered, mobile social learning environment designed to engage students, collaborate and share course material. It sports web-based, mobile device and facebook connectivity. Students can engage in a digital learning community for their courses in which they can share videos, conversation and questions with fellow students. Learners can use Mixable to listen to lecture podcasts, access course material, and turn in assignments. Employed by Purdue University, Mixable is very similar to a learning management system such as Moodle or Blackboard. To learn more about Mixable, check out this Educause article.

Popplet is a free, visually appealing venue for creating concept maps, sharing images and collaborating around ideas. Popplet is an easy and intuitive digital way to brainstorm for design charrettes, create flow charts, presentations or even outline a paper in a visual format. Content can be private or shared with other users. Some ideas for Popplet in the classroom include, posting a central idea or theme and then letting students add their related thoughts, vetting paper topic ideas to see if students can map enough related ideas to support an entire paper, or problem solving around real-life issues facing society. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Popplet is communicating at lightspeed.

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About Ashley

Ashley has a B.A. in Environmental Studies and M.E.M. with an emphasis in Environmental Health from Yale. Currently, she blogs on delicious recipes and holistic nutrition at

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