Co-Creation & Ideation Tools

Co-creation and ideation tools facilitate the most direct interaction between team members on the goals or desired outcomes of the project. Using these tools, participants can often work in groups directly editing or building the project artifact.  Several of these tools are the same ones used for project management – which is great – because the students will already be familiar with the interface.

Google Apps for Education A group of students can work together on an in Google Docs and Spreadsheets, seeing changes in real time and even discuss the process or comment right within the tool.  Everything is automatically saved in the cloud which means that documents, presentations and sites can be accessed – and edited – on almost any mobile device, computer or tablet.

Group members can edit documents, presentations or websites with images, videos, tables, drawings, or links and teachers or other students can give feedback by adding comments. The discussion feature (now available in Spreadsheet and Presentations as well as Docs) allows team members to talk about the project, what to do, how its going, etc right within the project.  You can even use the Research tool right within Documents to search for content on the web. Google Sites can be used as a portfolio or as a place to embed and showcase student projects. As a teacher you can create a template of a Site that contains directions, examples, links to resources and helpful tips and then have your students make a copy of the site.   This productivity suite was made for collaboration!  Other collaboration suites are:  Zoho Docs  and Microsoft 365.

Google Apps Examples:

  • Spanish students worked collaboratively to create a newspaper with a variety of articles: “LA PRENSA DE LAS PANTERAS”
  • Students use a Google form to collect data about the relationship between your height and wingspan to prove or disprove Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man”
  • Students researched Biomes and various projects were embedded into a Google Site

WikispacesWikispaces: A wiki is a website which allows its users to add, modify, or delete its content via a web browser.  On a wiki students can share work and ideas, pictures and links, videos and media.  A wiki can be made public so anyone can edit the space or limited to just a class or a few participants.  Many different types of projects can be embedded in a wiki so they work well for showcasing projects made with other tools like:  videos, documents, polls, calendars, maps and specific Web 2.0 tools where you can get the HTML embed code (example:  Google Presentations, VoiceThread). Wikispaces provides free wikis for teachers and they do not contain ads. Don’t forget the tips for collaborative projects using Wikispaces. Another wiki option is PBWorks.

Wiki Examples:

  • High School online collaborative writing wiki
  • Elementary students in Auckland, New Zealand are using part of their class wiki as a blog and the other half to showcase student-created projects.
  • wiki to showcase student-made math movies

 

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 Examples:

  • Elementary grade students use Evernote for student portfolios
  • Here is a blog post how a Librarian uses Evernote as a research tool.

 

MeetingWords is a very simple text editor for the web. Your text is saved on the web, and more than one person can edit the same document at the same time. Everybody’s changes are instantly reflected on all screens.  You can work together on notes, brainstorming sessions, homework, etc.

Other content creation options:

VoiceThread:  A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice through a Facebook Fan Page (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too. Users can doodle while commenting, use multiple identities, and pick which comments are shown through moderation. VoiceThreads can even be embedded to show and receive comments on other websites and exported to MP3 players or DVDs to play as archival movies. (https://voicethread.com/about/features/)  Here is a wiki with VoiceThread examples: http://voicethread4education.wikispaces.com/


Prezi:
  Prezi is a virtual whiteboard that transforms presentations where images and words work together to present an idea or lesson.  You can work together on the same prezi in real-time. With Prezi Meeting, teams can collaborate live or simply present prezis with up to 10 people in a prezi at one time. Prezi Meeting is included in all license types.

 


 

Ideation

Ideation is the process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas.  There are several technology tools that support this brainstorming process.

Mindmeister:  You can work with multiple users simultaneously on the same mind map. All collaborators will be shown in the map footer if they are working on the same mind map. You can turn on the History View to see what changes have been done by which users. You can share your mind maps with a single collaborator, group, or public.  You can give presentations directly from MindMeister either online to other collaborators or with a projector.

Popplet:  Popplet is a place to collect ideas.  Its very simple to use easy great for younger kids.  You can collect inspiration, record thoughts, explore ideas, create galleries. Popplets share be shared and collaborated in real time.

Padlet:  (formerly called Wallwisher) is a super easy way to collect ideas, images, and multimedia onto a simple “wall”.  Works great on tablets too.

Other mind-mapping tools: Webspiration Classroom and Creately (paid)


Creative Commons / Copyfriendly Images/Audio/Music

Discuss with students how we can honor intellectual property by searching the web for “copyfriendly” images to use for collaborative projects.  Help students to understand that all of their work – whether digital or not – is copyrighted the minute they create it. You do not need a © symbol to copyright your work.  You created it – you own it!

I like to appeal to the creative musicians, photographers and artists in my classes.  I try to help students understand that they can CHOOSE to share their creations and still maintain ownership.  This leads to a discussion about Creative Commons licensing.  If a student is willing to share their work to be remixed, changed or altered they must decided whether to allow commercial use or not.  Going through the process of choosing a license for their own work reinforces the concept of “honoring” the intentions of the other content-creators.

Inevitably, a student brings up the concept of “fair use” and wonders why they can’t just so a Google image search for their school-related assignments.  Its at this point that we talk about the purpose of citations for school work – that citing an image for a PowerPoint or presentation means that you are not taking credit for having made the image used and are indicating on the Works Cited page who is the original owner.

This discussion helps students to understand that under fair use laws, teachers must still follow certain rules:

  • I will include a notice that the materials are protected by copyright
  • I will use technology that reasonably limits the students’ ability to retain or further distribute the materials
  • I will make the materials available to the students only for a period of time that is relevant to the context of a class session.

Sure, there are always going to be those who think that if its on the Internet then they should be able to use it. But presenting Copyright vs. Creative Commons in a way that explains WHY and focus on HONORING the work of others, gets kids thinking about themselves as content-creators and how they would feel if someone “stole” their work and made money off it.

My all-time favorite resource to share with students is Joyce Valenza’s CopyFriendly Resource Page.

Collaborative Project Management Tools

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:

  1. Task management
  2. Time tracking
  3. Workflow routing
  4. Milestones
  5. Calendaring

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.

 

WikispacesWikispaces: A wiki is a website which allows its users to add, modify, or delete its content via a web browser.  Wikispaces provides these tips for collaborative projects using their wikis:

  • 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.