Collaborative project management tools are geared toward the logistical aspects of planning, scheduling and workflow around educational projects. Using collaborative technology tools gives every group member the ability to participate in the project and develop strategies for managing time, collaborating with team members, assessing their progress, and maximizing learning experiences.
Schools in the K12 arena don’t need to purchase special project management software. There are plenty of collaborative document editors that can be used for assignments and many have built in project templates, schedules or calendars. Project Management tools focus on:
- Task management
- Time tracking
- Workflow routing
Google Apps for Education is an online productivity suite that schools can use to bring communication and collaboration tools to their community for free. Students have access to email, contact management, chat, calendars, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and websites. Schools administer the accounts and can turn on/off the features they need. Everything is automatically saved in the cloud which means that emails, documents, calendar and sites can be accessed – and edited – on almost any mobile device, computer or tablet.
For a group project to be successful each team member needs to understand the learning target, know the overall project plan, what’s their responsibility, due dates, resources etc. Students or teacher can build schedules and project planners using Google Docs. Group members can create a simple sortablespreadsheet (from Google Doc Template Gallery) that can be used to track member’s progress, schedules, resources, assets, and contacts. Team members can refer to the document to know the next steps, click on links to shared documents, or add their own contribution. Teachers can easily check progress or leave comments to the whole team. Users can build surveys with the form editor and collect data from fellow students or the public. All the responses would then recorded in a spreadsheet for analysis by all team members. Forms could also be used for self or peer evaluation during or after the project. To stay organized all of the project documentation, forms, resources and calendar can be embedded in a Google Site and every group member can contribute their part.
Microsoft Office 365 is a similar online office productivity suite. Office 365 offers free email, instant messaging, group video and voice chat, and online document viewing and editing.
- Organize group work with Projects – Assigning group projects for your students is easy, but managing those assignments can be hard. It takes a lot of scheduling, and it can be tricky to make sure that everyone is doing their fair share of the work.Projects let you cordon off little sections of your wiki and hand them over to groups of students. And as a teacher, you can manage the permissions on those teams and check in regularly on content as it progresses, which is pretty neat.
- Encourage discussion – Every page on your wiki can have its own dedicated discussion board. Depending on the type of assignment the group is working on, you can use it in any number of ways: Teachers can pose open-ended topics for discussion. Students can ask the teacher for help or clarification. You can even hold lively debates — and, however you use your discussions, every query and post stays with the work on the wiki.
- Give feedback and comments – Our comments feature lets you scribble notes in the margins of a wiki page (figuratively speaking). This means different things to different people. For teachers, it’s a way to ask pointed questions about specific passages, to guide students in the right direction as they work, and to give more meaningful feedback during assessment. For students working together, it’s a way to communicate more efficiently throughout the project and to engage in peer review.
- Schedule Project-related Events – If you have Projects on your wiki (and all education wikis will have Projects), you also have the ability to schedule Events. These let you schedule certain activities ahead of time, so you can lock or unlock projects for editing, send student reminders about dues dates, archive Projects, and more.
Evernote is a great tool for students and teachers to capture notes, save research, collaborate on projects, snap photos of whiteboards, record audio and more. Everything you add to your account is automatically synced and made available on all the computers, phones and tablets you use. Notebooks can then be shared with group members and accessed from anywhere. Evernote has also been used effectively for portfolios. Individual students or small groups can use Evernote to document their learning. Evernote for Schools
It doesn’t matter what platform you use. Each of these productivity suites give students the ability to collaborate together to plan projects, stay on task, and work together. Staying accountable to the group by being organized and doing their part will give students a sense of satisfaction that they helped their group succeed.