My Favorite Tech Tools for Communication and Collaboration

My favorite aspect of educational technology is the ability for students to communicate and collaborate with others all over the world. Google Hangouts, Skype and other video communication tools make global learning explode in today's classroom.

Come learn about my FAVORITE technology tools for digital communication and collaboration with elementary students. Use these tools with Chromebooks, laptops, computers and some can even be used with iPads. Global learning is making its way into the classroom and we need to make sure our students are prepared so they can make the most of these authentic learning experiences!

There are other educational technology tools I like to use with students to assist working with others both in and outside of the classroom. When I am working with elementary students and teachers, especially the younger ones in 1st and 2nd grade, I like to use tech tools that:
  • are free
  • are easy
  • have a simple interface
  • do not require a student login (except Google Drive..gotta get Google with it in elementary😋)
Our time together is always so limited that we have to get students into a program and working ASAP.

Here are some of my favorite classroom tested tech tools that I like to use with elementary students who are learning how to communicate and collaborate digitally with others.

Dotstorming allows students to share their work and ideas. Then they can leave comments and place votes. Great tool for digital communication and collaboration!

Dotstorming: One of my all time favorite web tools! Dotstorming allows users to add an idea or upload an image to a board the teacher creates and shares via a single link. It allows you to "vote" on your favorite post by clicking the bottom of the post to add a dot. The teacher who creates the board can restrict how many votes the students are allowed to make when he/she sets up the Dotstorming board.  Students also have the ability to comment on each post:

Click HERE to read about this specific lesson
This is a great tool for brainstorming as a group and/or sharing creations. Click HERE to read more about this amazing tool over on Richard Byrne's blog.

Padlet: I can't write a collaboration post without mentioning Padlet! I believe this was the first web tool I ever used that had the ability for multiple people to hop on and work together by clicking on a single link. Yes, I used this before my world was turned upside down by Google Drive. Padlet is a lot like Dotstorming except it does not have the ability to vote on different posts. However, students can upload images, gifs, videos and use the built in webcam! What is really neat about Padlet is being able to change the background to the wall. You can read THIS blog post about how to customize a Padlet wall and grab some FREE graphic organizers I created for you to use with Padlet.

These FREE graphic organizers can be using with the collaborative digital tool, Padlet.

Since I wrote that post, Padlet added the option to add comments to other's posts:

There are lots of ways the teacher can customize as well as restrict the board his/her students work on. It is also available as an app!

Boardthing is a great collaborative tool that can be used on Chromebooks, laptops, computers and iPads

BoardThing: This is another collaboration board like the two mentioned above. Check out THIS blog post to read all about it. In a nutshell, a BoardThing board can be accessed with a single link set up by the teacher. Students can add notes and attach pictures. I really like the chat feature that comes along with this tool so students can share and plan before creating on the board! It will even work on an iPad browser.

Use the digital tool, Twiddla, to create COLLABORATIVE mind-maps, drawings and documents. You can even mark up webpages together!

Twiddla: I love how this web tool claims to be browser-agnostic😂 With this tool students have the ability to collaboratively mark up websites, graphics and photos, write together on the EtherPad or choose to simply brainstorm on a white canvas. You also have the ability to upload documents. I really like the shape tools which can be used to create mind-maps! Students join the Twiddla board by clicking a single link set up by the teacher.

Here is an example of two students who were researching bats. They were able to mark up a website as well as create a mind-map of the information they were synthesizing:

Use the digital tool, Twiddla, to create COLLABORATIVE mind-maps, drawings and documents. You can even mark up webpages together!

In order to save work you must have a paid account or be working during your free trial window. I usually create the Twiddla boards without signing in and just have students take screenshots of their work!

Stoodle: This tool is a great one to use, especially with the little ones! Students can access the board via a single link and have the ability to draw, type and upload images. One of my favorite ways to use Stoodle is creating ONE board and adding pages at the bottom of the board.

Stoodle is a great collaborative drawing board that can be used on laptops, Chromebooks, and even iPads

Each student (whether they are in your classroom or half way around the world) can hop onto their page either individually or with a partner to create. Once everyone is finished, they can click on the other numbers and check out what everyone created on their page. It is almost like a collaborative digital book! Students can solve math problems, draw & label diagrams, type sentences and so much more. I also like the chat feature for students to share and plan together before working on the board.

CoSketch is a collaboration tool used to make drawings

CoSketch: This online collaboration board allows users to add pictures, draw and communicate through a chat feature. Students access the board from a single link set up by the teacher. In the example above, students worked with a partner to upload a flower image. They were able to add on by drawing grass, roots and the sun. Together they labeled the parts of the plant. Working together allowed students to have an accountability partner for the assignment! Assignments like these require the teacher to create multiple boards for group work. I like to paste the urls to these collaborative tools in a view only Google Doc. This way everything is housed in one location and I just have to share the Google Doc link with the class. Here is an example:

That was what I did for the lesson you can read about HERE.

UPDATE! Unfortunately after 10 wonderful years, Today's Meet has shut down.

Split screen a Today's Meet chatroom and a presentation so they appear side by side when delivering your presentation..makes for a great guessing game!

Today's Meet is a great way for students to communicate with one another. It is a simple backchannel for chatting/talking to one another. I have used this tool not only for sharing ideas but also for guessing games for teaching context clues, making inferences and other reading skills. Ditch That Textbook has a wonderful post about 20 ways to use this tool in your classroom. Check it out HERE. The teacher creates the chatroom and shares the single link with students. 

Google Drive: One of the first questions I ask elementary educators that reach out for lessons ideas is, do your students have access to Google Drive? I honestly don't know how I could teach without it! Drive is a digital powerhouse. There are so many digital activities that promote communication and collaboration within Google Drive. Students can take notes together in Google Docs, create group presentations in Google Slides, construct diagrams together in Google Drawing, collect and analyze data in Google Sheets and the list goes on and on. I especially love using Google Drive for collaborative projects like Design an App Collaborative Class Project or create Collaborative Digital Books.

Check out my blog post 5 Ways to Avoid Disasters When Collaborating in Google Drive and grab some teaching tips from THIS free video:

You also might be interested in my Reminder Posters and Presentation in Google Slides™for digital communication and collaboration that can be found in my TpT Store.
Click HERE for the BUNDLE

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