Keeping track of resources when doing projects can be time-consuming and challenging in a collaborative environment. A simple sortable spreadsheet can be used to track member’s progress, schedules, resources, assets, and contacts. Each member can refer to the document to know the next steps, click on links to shared documents or document their own contribution. Teachers can easily refer to the document to check progress or leave comments to the whole team. Google Sheets or Zoho Creator are two great options – each with their own strengths and purpose. Younger students might find using a wiki easier for managing groups projects or even Edmodo because they can have conversations and include links at the same time. Another great option for organizing online resources is using an online bookmarking tool.
Social Bookmarking is a method for users to store, organize, search, and manage bookmarks of web pages on the Internet with the help of metadata or tags and then share ideas with others. These tools work great for collaborative projects because each member of the project can locate online resources and easily share them with group members through tagging. When you sort your bookmarks by tags you can also see other popular bookmarks made by others who used the same tag. These curated links can help you discover new resources such as websites, pdfs, videos and images. Member of group projects can invent a special tag for their project or send their bookmarks directly to team members or by setting up a group. The two main social bookmarking websites that are used in education today are: Diigo and Delicious.
Diigo is social bookmarking plus has features like adding sticky notes and highlighting on the web. Special premium accounts are available for K-12 and higher education at Education Diigo with these features:
- You can create student accounts for an entire class with just a few clicks (and student email addresses are optional for account creation)
- Students of the same class are automatically set up as a Diigo group so they can start using all the benefits that a Diigo group provides, such as group bookmarks and annotations, and group forums.
- Privacy settings of student accounts are pre-set so that only teachers and classmates can communicate with them.
- Ads presented to student account users are limited to education-related sponsors.
Pinterest is a popular tool to use for organizing online resources but students may not consider using it in an educational setting. Since you can create new boards, move pins from one board to another, and even subscribe to boards made by others, students might find it to be a fun and creative way to gather resources – especially visuals – for a collaborative project. Example of a Pinterest board: New in Young Adult Fiction. Other related resource gathering tools worth checking out are: Scoop-it, LiveBinders, and Symbaloo
Photographs online – Flickr and Picasa Web Albums (which has been incorporated into Google+ Photos) are two photosharing web services. Both have tagging and sorting functions that encourage collaboration and community building. This is a great place to share images for collaborative projects and determine whether you want to make the albums public or private. Don’t forget to review your school’s Acceptable Use Policy before you start allowing students to use online photo sharing.
Here are some ideas for using online images in the classroom:
- Web albums can be embedded into other Web 2.0 tools like wikis and Google Docs and that streamlines the process of adding images to projects since the images are already online and don’t need to be re-uploaded (saves time and bandwidth). Plus any group member can contribute to the album.
- Another feature of online images is that they can be geo-tagged so that the location of the image can be tracked or be combined with a map.
- Online image albums are a great way to document each step of a collaborative project. Put one student in charge of taking photos along the way so the images be used when students are reflecting on their own learning during the evaluation process.
- Images in web albums can be used for story starters, collaborative books, scrapbooks, photo journals, maps, screenshots, or capturing the notes on a whiteboard.
Other options for storing images online: Upload directly into Google Drive for storage, embed them into project notes created with Evernote, or add them as attachments by email, on a Google Site or wiki.
Other Media: Often students will want to use a variety of media during collaborative projects. While it would be challenging for students to edit videos and audio files in the same program at the same time, many options are available for broadcasting or embedding media to intended audiences. Media files can simply be stored online for sharing with group members using Google Drive or DropBox.
Here are few media resources worth reviewing:
- YouTube is blocked in many schools but educators are now finding so many useful resources there that many schools are reconsidering their policies or considering YouTube for Schools. Here you can access or upload educational videos on YouTube in a controlled environment. Note: YouTube EDU is a sub-section of YouTube that contains high-quality educational content. YouTube for Schools is a network setting that, when implemented, allows your school to access the educational content on YouTube EDU while limiting access to non-educational content on YouTube.com. YouTube.com/Teachers is a how-to site that shows you how to use YouTube in the classroom.
- Podcasts are audio files that are uploaded online and shared through programs like iTunes or Juice. An excellent Podcasting resource is from Wes Fryer at: http://www.speedofcreativity.org/resources/podcast-resources/.
- VoiceThread is a multimedia platform that encourages discussions about images, video and documents.