Last month I posted The Best Online Tools For Real-Time Collaboration. I was exploring those tools more for my own professional development and professional relationships since, because of time zone issues with our International Sister Classes Project, it seemed unlikely any real-time collaborative work was going to work with my students.
At some point, however, I can see how our classes might consider doing joint projects not in real time (I believe that type of relationship is also called asynchronous. However, if I can’t spell it or pronounce it without a dictionary I’m not going to use it!).
I using the word “Best” hesitantly. I suspect there are quite a few other online tools out there, and I haven’t experimented extensively with any of them. If you have some suggestions, I’d be happy to hear it and put out a revised version in the near future. That’s one reason I’m not going to be listing sites in any kind of ranked order.
In order to make it on this list, the web application had to meet a number of criteria. They had to…
1. …be free.
2. …be accessible to English Language Learners.
3. …have specific collaboration tools. Most Web 2.0 tools, of course, have collaboration potential if you just email your password to somebody else. In order to make this list, however, the online application had to have a specific “value-added” and simple process to invite and work with others to develop shared projects.
4. … not require any downloads.
A number of sites on the “real time collaboration” list are also useful for working together not in real time. Rather than share them again here, I’m going to suggest you just explore that list on your own.
Also, wikis are online tools that should probably be included on this list. However, I still have not gotten around to using them, and still don’t really know how. I’ve posted in the past, though, about some good resources sharing how to use them in the classroom. You can check them out if you’d like.
While you’re at it you might want to review all of my other “The Best…” lists.
Here is my very tentative and unfinished list of The Best Online Tools For Collaboration — NOT in Real Time:
Mixbook allows you create a slideshow with collaborators. It seems fairly similar to Fliptrack — without the music — but I might be missing some differences.
Zee Maps is another simple tool for collaborative map creation.
Shutterfly seems to have a special collaborative feature that allows you to make joint photobooks.
There are a number of online word processors that invite easy collaboration, and not the least of these is Google Docs. You can find others by looking at the list of sites I’ve made for real-time collaboration.
Etherpad is the latest very, very easy way to collaborate in real time and not in real time. You just paste a bunch of text in a window and, without even having to register for the service, send others the url and everybody can edit it in real time. It also has a chat option. You can go back to the url address at any time to make further, adjustments, too, which is why I’m also adding it to this “The Best…” list. (Etherpad was bought by Google and is shutting down in March, 2010. They’ve open-sourced their code, though, and you can use Sync.in, PiratePad or Primary Pad instead now))
Here are a couple of site that I haven’t really tried yet, but appear to have some potential:
Protagonize is going to be a wonderful site for student collaboration, but not until they create a feature that allows private groups to be created. The site’s owner says that’s going to be coming soon. The site allows you to write basically collaborate in writing “choose your own adventure” stories that take you on different paths. ESL teachers also call them Action Mazes.
Kaltura is another site that seems to have some possibilities, though appears a little complicated to me. It’s a collaborative video-creation site, and you can either modify videos that are already on the web, or ones that you upload.
(Note: I’m adding The Broth to this list)
Yack All is a new application that lets you create a private chatroom. In one way Yack All is less convenient than most of the ones I’ve mentioned because it requires registration and sign-in (though it’s extremely easy to do so). One nice feature, though, that Yack All has but many of the others do not is that it saves the chat indefinitely.
Zoho Discussions is a super simple way to create “chatboards” that would work well for “sister classes.” There are a lot of alternatives, including ones that have the ability for users to participate in a chatboard by leaving audio messages. But I’m including it here just because it’s so easy.
Threaddie lets you create private chatrooms that you need passwords to enter. It could be useful for teachers who want to have some privacy protection. It’s very easy to set-up and to use.
Stroome is a nice online editing tool that’s on Not The “Best,” But A List… Of Online Video Editors list. They’ve added a feature called “groups” that lets you work with a….group of people to collaboratively edit a video. Because of that additional feature, I’m adding Stroome to this list. Thanks to 10,000 Words for the tip. Their post also explains other new Stroome features.
Folder Boy is a new site that lets you make notes and collaborate with others if you want. One of the nice things about it is that it allows you to copy and paste photos directly from the Web.
Penflip seems like a fairly easy collaborative writing too. There may be better ones on this list but, with District filters, you can never have too many options.
Richard Byrne has written a good post about a new tool called Poetica. Read his post about it before you go to the site. It’s a word processing tool that seems to have the ability to more clearly give written feedback on a document than Word does.
Please share reactions and other suggestions!