Top 10 Online Collaboration Tools for Distance Education
Distance education offers many benefits to students, though there are some unique challenges that accompany online learning. Thanks to the advent of Web 2.0, there are new educational tools being designed all the time. Collaboration programs are perhaps the most useful to both students and educators, as they help to open channels in a more traditional way. Below are 10 collaboration tools that have proven to be effective for improving distance education.
- Whiteboard– Whiteboard is a free online tool that allows users to share Web-based documents. You can compare changes and easily revert back to a previous incarnation of the documents, as well. This is a great way for teachers and students to work together on projects.
- Vyew – This free service provides live conferencing and collaboration, which makes the site invaluable to both students and business professionals. With Vyew, teachers and students can meet online for presentations, Webinars and more.
- Basecamp – Designed by the same company that made Whiteboard, this collaboration tool is actually a high-volume project manager. This program can allow teachers to assign work to students and will serve as a central hub for everyone to upload their finished work.
- FirstClass - This collaboration suite is popular with both K-12 and higher education teachers. Here, teachers can assign work and host class materials in one online place. Likewise, students can upload their work and start their own Web pages.
- Gliffy – Gliffy is a collaboration program that is designed for sharing flow charts, diagrams, technical drawings and more. It is perfect for distance courses related to business, architecture and any other subjects that use such materials.
- SLATE – SLATE, or Strategic Learning and Teaching Environment, is used by both distance educators and traditional teachers who wish to integrate the Internet with classroom instruction. It allows teachers to build Web pages for students to visit and retrieve assignments and worksheets.
- Mindomo – Known as "mind mapping" software, Mindomo allows teachers and students to share their brainstorming. The program aims to increase productivity and aid project management.
- Notecentric – Take notes and organize them online for sharing with Notecentric. This can be helpful for fellow classmates when collaborating on projects. Also, it is now available as a Facebook application.
- NoteMesh – Another note-sharing program, this service allows college students to share their lecture notes with each other in a wiki style. NoteMesh refers to itself as the Wikipedia for classroom notes.
- WebOffice – Similar to FirstClass, this virtual environment hosts live meetings for collaboration between teachers and students in real time.