When you think of the term "Collaborative Learning" your mind probably jumps to the group projects you use in your classroom. But imagine taking that idea and expanding it district-wide. Not only would your students engage with one another, they would also be swapping ideas with students in their district whom they have never even met. Thanks to the World Wide Web and collaborative learning app all of this is possible.
5 apps to unite your district and encourage collaborative learning:
- Popplet. You may already use Popplet to help students create visual maps for their collaborative ideas, but if you’re not familiar with the app, here’s what it does. Basically, Popplet is a community pin board with an infinite amount of space for students to post text, pictures, video and artwork. Once their work has been pinned, students are free to explore and comment on each other’s Popplets. They will be fascinated to watch how the same subject can be thought about, engaged with, and analyzed in so many ways.
- Twitter. We have always been enthusiastic about using Twitter to keep teachers, parents, and students connected, but it can also be used as a collaborative learning tool. Even elementary students will love to Tweet their ideas to others. Consider using a classroom Twitter feed as a platform from which to reach out to other students in various learning communities and share ideas. One idea would be to create Book Club Groups. Each day/week, students can Tweet their observations and ideas about the book. Your "sister classroom" from another school in the district can respond and post their own questions. It's a great way to cast a larger learning net.
- VoiceThread. This app, which is actually a voice/text/video thread is a wonderful way for students to collaborate on presentations and projects, or to comment on each other’s work. Because it all takes place online, it allows students to work with anyone anywhere. Even something as simple as posting a "Mystery Picture" and asking students to comment on it is a way to keep creative juices flowing. Another bonus is that VoiceThread allows hearing and/or speaking-challenged students to contribute via type or video sign language.
- QR Code Scavenger Hunts. Look at storefront windows as you pass by and you’ll probably see them: you know, those weird black and white pixilated boxes they’re calling QR Codes? It’s not just advertisers who are harnessing the power of QR Codes. Teachers, too, are starting to use them to create Internet-based scavenger hunts by bookmarking any number of media/learning tools. Or students can create their own hunts. Then they catalog their QR codes via their phone or tablet. To learn more about putting together your own QR scavenger hunt, check out what the International School of Toulouse is doing.
- Edmodo. For those who teach high school, Edmodo is the secure Facebook of the education world. Both students and teachers can sign on. You can post assignments and ideas through the Edmodo social network and others can get involved. Students have a bit of freedom, so site monitoring is recommended to ensure students stay focused on collaborative learning rather than collaborative socializing!
Collaborative learning apps are literally blowing the educational world wide open. Classroom and school walls are no longer boundaries, which is so exciting for the future of education. Have you been using any eTools or Apps to promote collaborative learning in your district? Or even just school wide? We would love to hear your ideas.