Collaboration involves any interactive engagement with another person. In the classroom, collaboration takes place in pairs between students, in small groups, as an entire class and with the instructor. Collaboration also can take place outside of the classroom, especially through the use of technology.

Reasons to Collaborate

  • engages students
  • is an important skill for learning and the work force
  • connections are made through the use of technology, global connections for work are common
  • offers models for writing
  • offers opportunities to develop ideas and revise with feedback from others
  • creates a community of writers

Ways to Collaborate with Writing

  • discussions
  • creation of compositions together
  • community of writers offer support and feedback
  • through interaction in the classroom or online

Technology Tools

Course management or discussion tools
Nicenet is a free system similar to other course management systems that allows for discussion boards, posting materials and links online.

Networks are opportunities to have open or closed discussions via the web. They are social networks like Facebook. With careful set up and guidelines established for your classroom use of a network, they may be used with students for a class community and opportunity to respond to peers. A few free networks are listed below.

Blogs are online journals, but can be used for various purposes. Blogs may be a place to post material for class and/or students can become users and post on the blog too. Discussions that lead to collaboration can be held through use of a blog. It is possible to set up permissions so that material is not posted without your review. A few educational blogs are listed below.
Edublogs this educational blog is for teachers and students
Kidblogs this educational blog was designed by teachers and is excellent for elementary and middle school students
More information about blogs

Wikis are open source websites, in which you can change and modify pages. Wikis have multiple purposes. While, they could serve as a website that you maintain, they are also excellent for student work and collaboration. Some free wikis are listed below.

Google Docs offer an opportunity for collaboration in text documents, spreadsheets or presentations. Materials are shared between those that are invited to look at the same document. Upon completion, files can be downloaded into other programs.
Google Docs to use Google Docs a free account is needed

Free websites, wikis, or blogs can be helpful for collaboration through teacher use or class use. Some places to find free websites, wikis or blogs are noted below.
Google Sites to use Google Sites a free account is needed

Collaborative Research can be done through sharing online research. It is helpful to share information, tag, post sticky notes, or comment on the reading material with members of a group. This can be done through social bookmarking of websites that also allow notes. Check out the following site for an opportunity to research collaboratively.

Edit and share documents collaborating on documents can take place in many ways. While attachments to emails are one way to collaborate, some websites assist in sharing documents for review without the need for an attachment. Google Docs (to use Google Docs a free account is needed) works for this purpose, so do these other websites:

Digital storytelling in groups is a great way to offer collaborative opportunities. Check out the storytelling link for more information.

Discussion in small groups can be helpful for students. Structure is helpful for this type of lesson. Additional ideas to add to the discussion include recording conversations through digital voice recorders or in the same way as podcasting. Returning to the recording later can add to a metacognitive conversation with students.

Group presentations are a good way to collaborate. Challenge your students to try some new presentation tools and to share their presentations materials through tools such as the following:

Web-based Presentation Tools
Creating Presentations in Google Docs/ to use Google Docs a free account is needed
Prezi: The Zooming Presentation Editor
280 Slides
Zoho Show

Shareware/Freeware Presentation Tools
Open Office Impress

Presentation sharing spaces
Slide Serve

Or have students present through movie or storytelling tools
Photo Story 3
Other digital storytelling tools