Thing 8: Collaborating, Connecting, Sharing

Together we are stronger by Aeioux, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  Aeioux 

This topic focuses on tools and services that help us collaborate with others. This includes tools that help students work on projects together, build collaborative presentations, create team-built wikis around research topics, share calendars for scheduling, teleporting visitors into your classroom (well, videoing them in at least) and more.

Of course many of these tools can be used for individual work as well, with the advantage of being able to share work with classmates, instructors and others for review, reaction and input. And collaboration goes hand-in-hand with connecting and sharing, so there are a few extra tools focused on those ideas too.


For this topic, we didn’t gather lots of examples of how schools are using collaborative tools with students and for administrative purposes. There are so many great examples just a quick search away. Instead, let’s take this opportunity to share the projects you’ve been involved with or are using as models for your projects! Let’s walk the walk here and create a collaborative document with YOUR projects to show the world what you’ve been doing. To get you started, here’s a Google Doc for you all to add to: – you shouldn’t need any special permission to edit the file.  Feel free to share it and encourage others to add to it to.


Once again, there’s a long list of tools below and there are many more terrific ones that I haven’t included. And of course, you obviously don’t have time to learn them all!

So for this week’s activity:

  • Pick 2 tools from the list below. (Or pick something else that you’ve been wanting to explore.)
  • Explore how the tools work and check out the help files to see what features are available.
  • For your Thing #8 blog post, share what you picked and how it worked for you.
  • Do you think you’ll continue to use it? How might you use it with your students?


Writing & More

  • Google Docs – Create documents and invite others to collaborate. Multiple users can be editing in realtime. Edits and revisions are tracked, older versions can be restored.  Word documents, spreadsheets, slide presentations and more. You can also create forms to collect feedback. (Forms may be one of the most overlooked features of Google Docs!) You can also upload documents created on your computer for sharing via Google Docs.
  • TitanPad – This is one of the simplest ways to share a document. Based on the EtherPad project (now disappeared into Google), just click on the Create Public Pad button and start writing. Share the URL and others can jump in. Handy for collaborative note-taking in a class, sharing ideas and of course, writing. Here’s an example I started for our group to test.
  • StrawPoll – Very handy and simple tool for creating a simple poll. Add a title, enter choices and publish. Allows for multiple answers or a single answer. Free, no signup required.

Sharing Documents

  • Scribd – Upload Word, PDF files and PowerPoint docs to share with others. Documents can be embedded on your web site. (Example: School newsletter)
  • – Handy service to use for uploading and sharing documents. Multiple contributors can share content on one account.
  • Dropbox – A terrific place to store files that only you will need, but you can also share documents with others through a public folder.  Many people use it to share very large files, especially handy when you don’t have access to your own web server and files are too big to email. Every file in the public folder has a unique URL. People can’t simply browse through that folder, they need the URL to access a file. (full disclosure! The link to Dropbox is my personal link, if you sign up, I get some extra free storage space. Thank you! :-)
  • Slideshare – Upload slide presentations to share with others. Since these can be embedded on your website, you could easily share community meeting presentations, training presentations and so on. (Example: Making Learning Stick from Polly’s website)

Calendars, etc. – Sharing your library’s schedule with teachers, students and admin can help you with scheduling nightmares. And has the added advantage of showing the world all the great things going on in your library.

  • Google Calendar – Keep track of public and private events. Calendars can be shared with others. Add other teachers’ calendars and the main school calendar to your own calendar to keep track of what’s going in the schools. If individual instructors create calendars with important deadline, students can add those to their own calendars. Calendars can be embedded in other web pages to share your public events with everyone. (Example: Piedmont School District)
  • Google Calendar Sync – Still need to use Outlook as your calendar? Use this handy tool to synchronize with Google Calendar
  • Doodle – Simple tool to help you find the best time for an event, meeting, party, etc. Enter dates & times, send invitation to other attendees and everyone can select the dates/times that will work best for them.


  • Skype in the Classroom – With Skype, you can make phone calls all over the world. If you have a video cam on your laptop or mobile device, you can have a video conference. Many classrooms use it to connect with partner classrooms around the world, bring in a special speaker or author and what a great way for students to connect one-on-one with experts in the topics they’re interested in. Skype An Author Network for speaker ideas.
  • Google+ Hangouts – Do you have a Google account? Do your students? Then you all have Google+ accounts too! When you’re on your Google+ homepage, you’ll see a link on the right to start a hangout.  Simply enter the names of friends to invite them to join in. It’s a handy way to have an online meeting with a group of people, or have someone visit your classroom and interact with your students. Try it out with a few friends! Hangouts can also be recorded and saved for future viewing and sharing. And there are ways to connect them to YouTube. We could set one up for our CoolTools group if anyone would like to test it out.
  • Collaborize Classroom – Setup an online forum for your classroom. Pose questions and present content for students to discuss, react to, vote on. (our example classroom)

Collaborative Curation – We’ve included diigo elsewhere, but this time take a look at the collaborative features.

  • diigo – With this popular bookmarking tool it’s a snap to create groups to share resources.  Check out this Teacher-Librarian group started by Joyce Valenza and our own CoolTools group. Students could use this to gather and share resources for a research projects.
  • Pinterest Boards – We’ve already looked at Pinterest, but here we focus on the collaborative aspects. With Pinterest, students can easily create visual presentations. Have them create a board, pin images related to their topic and write reactions to the image in the notes. Could be used a preparation for a slide deck or even be the complete presentation. Syracuse University recently held a contest challenging library school students to create Pinterest boards about the future of libraries. The results were really interesting.

Collaborative Brainstorming

  • Stixy – Create a board and add notes, pictures, documents and more. Collaborators can share ideas and rearrange content. Great way to gather ideas from a group and then sort into groups of related topics.
  • Popplet – Similar idea, but a bit simpler. Create a popplet board, add notes, images, videos and more. Link groups of content and ideas together. Popplets can be embedded in a webpage to share your ideas with others.

Wikis – Wikis can be used for so many things. Create research guides; students can collaborate on research projects; outlining and drafting research projects; collaborative writing projects; gathering and sharing data from around the world by setting a page to be editable by anyone; student portfolios.

  • WikiSpaces – This is probably the most popular wiki in the K12 world since their free educational wikis are advertising free. And you can easily set up accounts for up to 100 students without needing email accounts.
  • PBWorks – PBWorks is also very popular with educators, offering basic accounts for free and the ability to add students without requiring email accounts.

Share your desktop

  • – This handy service lets you show your computer desktop to other people. It’s great for showing someone how to use a library search tool or some other tool. And it’s terrific for helping others troubleshoot a computer problem, just ask them to start a joinme “meeting” and give you control of their desktop. If you don’t want to be the computer troubleshooter for your whole family, don’t tell them about this one!


Lists of tools

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