The year 2020 has seen a paradigm shift in the way students and teachers collaborate. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, physical classrooms have been replaced with online video conferences. Classes have gone remote, with collaboration tools for remote communication proving to be the lifesaver.

Uncertainty still prevails over the way classrooms will function in the future, and thus it has become highly important to adopt new ways of learning and collaboration.  An estimated 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom internationally. As a result, e-learning is experiencing a meteoric rise and is expected to only continue to rise over the coming years. 

Education technology was already surging before the onset of COVID-19 with investments in EdTech reaching USD 18.7 billion last year and projected to reach USD 350 billion by 2025. There are mixed opinions on the implementation of e-learning as the future in education. 

Some believe that this sudden shift to online learning without prior training and preparation may lead to a detrimental impact on the user experience over time. Others hold the contrary view and believe that there will emerge a hybrid education model with remarkable benefits. 

On the downside, e-learning doesn’t equip teachers and students with the feel of a classroom environment. Instead, it hinders interpersonal communication, requires new measures to prevent malpractice during assessments, and hampers students’ practical exposure as teachers are bound to focus more on theory rather than hands-on experience. 

But these cons fade away when we look at the pros e-learning has to offer 一 data retention, accessing content anytime and anywhere saving time and money, consistent training methods, and better personalization and collaboration. On the collaboration front, Office 365 can prove to be a handy tool as students can work and collaborate online for free. Students can familiarize themselves with it using Office 365 online training and get started right away. 

Being a teacher or a parent got even tougher during this unprecedented event. If you are one of them, you’ll be anxious to know how children can collaborate and engage better during these trying times. Worry not! In this blog, you can explore the most efficient student collaboration tools for remote group tasks. Read on! 

1. Classcraft

Classcraft is a fun and engaging collaborative tool as well as an educational role-playing game that students and teachers alike can play remotely. Students collaboratively work in association to oversee their classroom experience. The fun part is students can create stylish characters: Guardians, Healers, and Mages. 

Classcraft strives to create a digital community in the remote-learning environment and motivate students to be a part of it. Teachers can set remote behavior expectations to boost student engagement and keep them motivated throughout the coursework. The following are a few behavioral attributes teachers can encourage by using Classcraft. 

  • Being on time for lessons
  • Participating in forums and discussions
  • Submitting the assigned work on time
  • Setting goals and working towards them

Random events help teachers to kickstart the class for the day. These events are specially designed to improve student focus and get them ready for the day. 

Video of Classcraft

Source: https://help.classcraft.com/hc/en-us/articles/217901528-Class-Tools-Random-Events

Students can use Classcraft’s messaging feature to stay connected with their friends and teachers. This allows teachers to send encouragement, answer questions, remind them to join the lessons, and to monitor their progress. 

2. CueThink

CueThink is a newfangled upskilling application with a focal point on critical thinking skills and mathematics collaboration for primary to high school students. Funded by the National Science Foundation, it aspires to nurture a growth mindset and encourage the student fraternity to see challenges as opportunities. 

CueThink’s web platform allows students to create “thinklets” of their solutions which upon publishing, get reviewed by peers and teachers from the domain. 

Photographies of CueThink(Source: cuethink.com)

Peer-to-peer learning and math conversations get easier as math geeks can discuss problems in real-time and engage in conversations using Annotations; thus being more efficient while acquiring knowledge remotely.

3. Drawp for School

Drawp for School is a creative, collaborative, content, and workflow management K-12 platform. Some of its key features include swipe to share collaboration, overflowing design tools, cloud storage, add-on language scaffolding tool, text-to-speech converter, and voice recording. 

The tool is partially funded by the National Science Foundation and has received an honorable mention in EdSurge DILA 2014. Drawp for School is COPPA certified, thus complying with children’s online privacy rules. 

Drawp works for discrete subjects as it provides a common annotating board for teachers to explain concepts analogous to the blackboard in a classroom. This smartboard feature improves student collaboration and stimulates their creativity while allowing them to draw or write on the go. 

Screenshots of Drawp for SchoolSource: https://drawpforschool.com/#tools

The app is available on Chrome web store, App Store, Play Store, and Windows. The tool offers a 30-day free trial for cloud-based storage after which the teachers have to upgrade the account to an unlimited plan without worrying about the number of students, classes, and cloud storage. 

4. Minecraft: Education Edition

Minecraft: Education Edition, as the company says, “is a game-based learning platform that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive digital environment.”  It is used by educators from more than 115 nations across the curriculum. 

The following are the salient features of Minecraft: Education Edition tool. 

  1. Intensive STEM learning - aims to promote 21st-century skills such as collaboration, creative problem solving, and digital citizenship through project-based lessons
  2. Classroom-friendly features - a series of tutorials and game features to bring subjects to life and to empower the educators in classroom management and formative assessment
  3. Creativity and Innovation - opportunities for exploration, storytelling, and digital learning by the means of mixed reality and computer science

The tool is highly effective for teachers as they can find lessons across subjects and ages. Math, Science, History, Language Arts, Visual Art, Tech, Geography, Music, Health, Religion, and Leadership are some of the subjects available in the lessons pool. 

Remote learning with Minecraft offers three collaborative methods for students and teachers. 

Teachers can encourage global collaboration where students add to a world, export it, and share with fellow students who can, later on, add to the original design. 

Screenshots of Minecraft for learningSource: Minecraft: Education Edition

One such example of an in-built student collaboration initiative is the book cover challenge. With this, the students can create their own Minecraft book covers using the book-themed world in 2D or 3D.

The full version of the tool can be simply accessed with an Office 365 account with a limited number of logins in the free trial. Thereafter, you will be required to purchase a subscription bought through AEPs or Microsoft Store for Education. 

5. Popplet

Popplet is a simple yet robust K-12 collaboration tool enabling the KG-goers and high schoolers alike to learn visually. Students from far off places will find this tool helpful as it supports more than 100 languages. Another great feature of Popplet is the easy real-time collaboration for students ー students can work together on projects and share them right away. 

 

Illustration of PoppletThe image simply shows how to use popplet. Source: https://www.popplet.com/

Visual learning, mind map learning, essay planning, timelines, and charts and trees 一 all can be done with Popplet. The signing up process is quite simple requiring only an email address. Once the account is up and running, students can create a new popplet by clicking on my popplets > create new popplet. 

Popplet’s shared with me option lets the students view the popplets created and shared by others. Besides, they can also view public and featured popplets for more ideas and brainstorming, 

The free version allows you to create only one free popplet, but they could have offered more to help better understand the tool. For unlimited mind maps and effortless collaboration, solo monthly or solo yearly plans are available. Last but not least, the groups & schools package extends infinite popplets and group collaboration. 

6. Spiral 

Simply put, Spiral is a collaboration of collaboration tools. It is a unified platform for popular formative assessment apps where students can engage in lessons with everyday learning activities. The application boasts of the fact that it doesn’t require integration with the school LMS and equips students to join live assignments and lessons double-quick. 

 

Screenshot of Spiral 

 

Spiral involves five different activities to keep the students engaged and promote dynamic learning. 

  • Quickfire lite for asking verbal questions and receiving quick responses from students.
  • Quickfire for playing quizzes with multiple format responses
  • Discuss to turn a presentation into a discussion thread including the entire class
  • Team Up enables the students to collaborate, create, and share presentations through linked devices
  • Clip helps convert a public video into a Q&A session and live chat 

Students have flexibility on when to work on the assigned tasks and get personalized feedback from teachers or when the class assembles the next time. The tool doesn’t need any installation but can rather be accessed with a code, link, or an email invitation by teachers for class and assignments. 

Final Word

With so many student collaboration tools at your disposal, it can be a time-consuming task to find the best one that fits your needs. Choose from these state-of-the-art student collaboration tools for remote group tasks. Your students will thank you for making collaboration and creation that much easier.

Written by

Dan Martin

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