October 18, 2017

5 Tech Tools for Classroom Collaboration

GoGuardian Team
An image of a teacher pointing to a whiteboard at th front of a classroom with a student raising his hande

"Collaboration is essential in our classrooms because it is inherent in the nature of how work is accomplished in our civic and workforce lives. Fifty years ago, much work was accomplished by individuals working alone, but not today. Much of all significant work is accomplished in teams, and in many cases, global teams."
The National Education Association, An Educator's Guide to the "Four C's "

Collaboration is one of the most essential ingredients to fostering 21st century skills and deeper learning in the classroom. The Harvard education specialist Tony Wagner has argued that, because knowledge is now available on every internet-connected device, the ability to collaborate has become far more important for students than academic knowledge. Did you know that it was a collaborative school computer club that brought together two minds that would change the future of technology forever? Those two minds were Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the founders of Microsoft. Collaboration doesn’t just fuel social and emotional skills fuels innovation.

Here are some of our favorite tech tools for facilitating collaboration and fueling innovation in the classroom:

1. Google Apps for Education
The Google Drive apps enable students and teachers to collaborate more effectively on papers, spreadsheets, and presentations. The beauty of the Google Suite for Education is: several people can contribute simultaneously, so it’s truly designed for collaboration. There is a limit of 50 simultaneous collaborators for Google Docs and Sheets, so there’s space for an entire class. There is a limit of 200 total viewers and editors in Google Docs and Sheets.

Another great feature of Google Apps is that they automatically save your work, so students’ work will never be lost. There’s also never a need to keep several iterations of a document because the revision history feature allows you to revert to previous versions of the document (to find revision history: go to the File menu and select “See revision history”).

2. Kahoot:
Kahoot is a game-based classroom response system that gives educators an engaging way to test the knowledge of their students. Teachers and educators LOVE Kahoot...and we even use it at our GoGuardian team meetings and Harry Potter trivia contests (yes we are that nerdy). Kahoot can be used to boost collaboration through encouraging students to be the leaders and “quiz-makers”: to research, create, and present their own quizzes to the class.

3. FlipGrid:
FlipGrid is a video discussion community for your classroom that uses student voices to promote collaboration, discussion, and engagement. With FlipGrid, you can type a question and create a link for a “grid”. Students respond to the question in video format (kids get to be the “talking heads”) and are added to the “grid” of all the responses. FlipGrid is a great way to build the communicational skills of your students, while facilitating collaboration.

4. MindMeister:
MindMeister is a collaborative web-based tool that enables groups to brainstorm on one “mind map” document during the early phases of group work. Students can continue to use the document for collaborating during the course of a project. MindMeister teaches students to work as a team to manage and plan projects effectively, and to break complex tasks down into smaller, more manageable parts.

5. Google Hangouts:
Google Hangouts is a great way to bring remote groups of students together to communicate and collaborate. With Google Hangouts, inviting a guest speaker into the classroom has never been easier ….Google Hangouts enables anyone from around the world to “visit” a school. You can also use Hangouts on Air to record video, so you can record the day’s class and post a link to it on your class’ website for students that were absent. Google Hangouts is also a great vehicle for connecting and collaborating with other classrooms...within your own school or across the globe!

Let’s face it, GoGuardian isn’t the only cool tool you can use in your classroom to enhance learning and teach digital citizenship.These are some of our favorites, but in the spirit of collaboration...what are some of your favorite tech tools to use in the classroom and how do you use them? Comment below or post them to our Twitter handle @goguardian! We’re looking forward to hearing how you are using technology creatively to engage students.