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10 of the Best Tools for Collaborative Learning

10 of the Best Tools for Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning is a type of learning where a group of people pool their resources and attempt to learn together. Even if the “group” is just two people working together, collaborative strategies can help to stimulate interesting debate and allow learners to discover a new perspective on material. Many educators are now turning to collaborative learning strategies to help their students to learn. Here are 10 of the best collaborative learning tools available on the web today.

1. Cardkiwi

Cardkiwi

    Cardkiwi is an online flashcard app which uses active recall and spaced repetition techniques to help users to revise anything they want. The app lets a user create their own double sided flashcards, and it then gives them the chance to rate how well they know the material on each individual card. The app uses a special algorithm to ensure that users are then shown the cards which they do not understand more often. Users are able to share their set of cards with people on the other side of the world if they want, and flashcards can even be assigned to certain editions of certain books, so that other users know which materials are relevant to them.

    2. TED Talks

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    TED Talks

      One of the best ways to stimulate student engagement is for them to go to conferences where professional speakers discuss major ideas. Whilst this isn’t always feasible, TED Talks offers the next best thing. On the TED Talks website, it is possible to access thousands of academic talks for free, which can be shown to students in class. The website also encourages users to create their own TED-style talks for others. Topics range from social topics to science topics, and everything in between.

      3. Prezi

      Prezi

        Prezi is one of the coolest tools available for giving presentations and a free version is available for people who do not mind all of their presentations being made public. The easy-to-pick up user interface allows users to make fast-paced, fun and stylish presentations which are a little different from those which can be made with run of the mill presentation software. Those who are making presentations can share access to their works-in-progress, allowing them to be edited by a group. There are already thousands of user-created presentations shared online.

        4. Skype in Education

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        Skype in the Classroom

          This is a platform which has been designed by the team at Skype to help educators to capitalize on the possibilities that video conferencing can offer to schools. Teachers can use the platform to connect with experts from across the globe who can lead personal sessions for pupils. It is also possible to connect with different classroom groups from around the world, in order to build international learning relationships.

          5. Think Binder

          ThinkBinder

            Think Binder is a great way of organizing a study group online. With text chat and video chat capabilities, it allows people to interact as they would in a traditional study group, but without them having to be at the same physical location. There is cloud storage space and bookmarking facilities for resources which are relevant to the group, and an interactive whiteboard section for those who want to put their ideas down in a visually appealing way.

            6. Simple surface

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            Simple Surface

              Simple Surface is an interactive whiteboard tool which allows you to create and link your ideas very easily. Whilst the tool is largely text based (as a real whiteboard is) the simplicity can be a huge help for those who are trying to create simple, workable lists. To boost the visual aspects of the tool, users can color-coordinate things in the list. “Surfaces” can then be shared with other users to allow collaborative editing.

              7. Google Docs

              Google Docs

                This Google feature allows users to create, share and co-edit ordinary documents from the comfort of their own homes. As all documents are shared in a cloud space which can be accessed from anywhere, pupils will no longer be able to use tired old technological excuses!

                8. Mind42

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                MInd42

                  Mind42 is a mind mapping tool similar to Simple Surface, but it is better for people who want to flesh out their ideas using more complicated mind maps. Users can put images into their mind maps, along with text notes which offer deeper explanations. Notes can be expanded and collapsed, to help the map to look neater or more complicated as required. Map editors can work together on a map at the same time, and maps can be shared with the public.

                  9. Storybird

                  Storybird

                    Storybird is a wonderful online tool which is designed to make storytelling and understanding literature more fun for younger children. Storybird lets users add descriptive text to existing artwork, in order to create an online storybook for themselves. Teachers can create special logins so that young children do not need their own email address.

                    10. Edmodo

                    Edmodo

                      Edmodo is like Facebook for learners. Whilst it looks like a social media site, the tool is actually a great way for teachers to share links, calendars and assignments with pupils, without having to worry about overstepping any boundaries. Students can also communicate with each other on the site.

                      All of these great learning tools can enhance the collaborative learning experience for the user, so go ahead and try one out and please let us know how it goes.

                      More by this author

                      Ciara Conlon

                      Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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                      Last Updated on September 23, 2020

                      5 Reasons for Your Facebook Addiction (and How to Break It)

                      5 Reasons for Your Facebook Addiction (and How to Break It)

                      Facebook is embedded into lives around the world. We use it to connect with friends, share important milestones, and check in with the news. However, what may seem like harmless scrolling can become harmful if it takes up inordinate amounts of time and turns into a Facebook addiction.

                      The first step to breaking any bad habit is to understand the symptoms and psychological triggers that made you pick up the habit in the first place. Below you’ll find the common causes, and the good news is that, once you’ve identified them, you can implement specific strategies to get over your Facebook addiction.

                      Symptoms of a Facebook Addiction

                      Do you find that the first thing you do when you wake up is grab your phone and scroll through Facebook? Is it the last thing you see before falling asleep? You may have a Facebook addiction. Here are some more of the signs and symptoms[1]:

                      • You end up spending hours on Facebook, even when you don’t mean to.
                      • You use Facebook to escape problems or change your mood.
                      • You go to sleep later because you’re glued to your screen.
                      • Your relationships are suffering because you spend more time on your phone than you do talking with the people you care about.
                      • You automatically pull out your phone when you have free time.

                      You can check out this TED Talk by Tristan Harris to understand how Facebook and other social media gain and hold our attention:

                      Psychological Reasons for a Facebook Addiction

                      A compulsive Facebook addiction doesn’t come out of nowhere. There are often root causes that push you into Facebook, which can ultimately manifest as an addiction once you become dependent on it. Here are some of the common causes.

                      Procrastination

                      Facebook can cause procrastination, but many times, your tendency to procrastinate can lead you to scrolling through your Facebook feed.

                      Facebook capitalizes on your tendency to procrastinate[2] by incorporating a news feed with an infinite scroll. No matter how far down you go, there will always be more memes and status updates to keep you distracted from whatever you should be doing.

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                      Thus, it might be helpful to change your perception of Facebook. Instead of looking at it like a place to be social or kill time, frame Facebook as the enemy of your productivity and purpose. Doesn’t sound as tempting now, right?

                      Loneliness or Indecision

                      Facebook resembles a boring reality TV show that is on full display during every hour of the day. Do you really need to tell everybody what you ate for lunch? I doubt it.

                      You don’t share such trivial details to add value to people’s lives. You’re likely doing it because you’re lonely and in need of attention or approval[3].

                      Seeking opinions from your friends could be a sign of indecision or low self-confidence. If you get a bad suggestion, then you can conveniently blame somebody else, thus protecting your ego.

                      Social Comparisons

                      Social comparison is a natural part of being human[4]. We need to know where we stand in order to judge our rank among our peers. And Facebook has made this all too easy.

                      When we get into Facebook, our brains are bombarded by hundreds of people to compare ourselves to. We see our cousin’s amazing vacation to Europe, our friend’s adorable baby, our brother’s new puppy, etc. Everything looks better than what we have because, of course, people are only going to post the best parts.

                      This extreme form of social comparison with a Facebook addiction can, unfortunately, lead to depression. One study pointed out that “people feel depressed after spending a great deal of time on Facebook because they feel badly when comparing themselves to others”[5].

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                      People-Pleasing

                      Facebook takes advantage of your desire for instant gratification[6]. Your brain receives a dopamine hit every time you see that red notification light up. Dopamine is a chemical in your brain that causes you to seek pleasure from things.

                      Pleasure sounds nice in theory, but dopamine is responsible for self-destructive behavior if overproduced. Thus, becoming a slave to your notifications can destroy your self-control in a hurry.

                      If that wasn’t bad enough, the human desire to be liked and accepted is at play, too. Every time you get a “Like,” your brain decides that means somebody likes you. Keep this up and you’ll turn into an addict desperate for another “hit.”

                      Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

                      Facebook wrecks your focus by preying on your fear of missing out. You check your Facebook feed during a date because you don’t want to miss any interesting updates. You check your messages while you drive because a friend might have something exciting to share.

                      One study found that “a high level of fear of missing out and high narcissism are predictors of Facebook intrusion, while a low level of fear of missing out and high narcissism are related to satisfaction with life”[7].

                      Therefore, while you may feel temporarily glad that you didn’t miss something, research shows that FOMO will actually reduce your overall life satisfaction.

                      How to Break a Facebook Addiction

                      Now that you know some of the causes of a Facebook addiction, you may be ready to break it. If so, follow these 5 steps to get over your addiction and improve your mental health.

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                      1. Admit the Addiction

                      You can’t fix a problem if you deny it exists. Don’t beat yourself up, but do try and be honest enough to admit you’re a Facebook addict. If it makes you feel any better, I’m a recovering addict myself. There is no reason to be ashamed.

                      Telling a trusted friend might help you stay accountable, especially if they share your goal.

                      2. Be Mindful of Triggers

                      In order to discover the triggers that lead you to use Facebook, ask yourself the following questions. It may be helpful to write them down at a journal.

                      • What did I do? (scrolling, sharing, notification checking, etc.)
                      • When did I do it? (down-time at work, as soon as you woke up, right before bed, on a date, etc.)
                      • What happened right before? (a stressful event, boredom, etc.)
                      • How did this make me feel? (stressed, anxious, sad, angry, etc.)

                      Once you’re aware of what pushes you to use Facebook, you can work on tackling those specific things to get over your Facebook addiction.

                      3. Learn to Recognize the Urge

                      Every time you feel the urge to update your status or check your feed, recognize that impulse for what it is (a habitual behavior—NOT a conscious decision). This is especially powerful when you complete step 2 because you’ll be able to make a mental note of the specific psychological trigger at play.

                      Have a plan for when you feel the desire to use Facebook. For example, if you know you use it when you’re bored, plan to practice a hobby instead. If you use it when you’re stressed, create a relaxation routine instead of jumping on Facebook.

                      4. Practice Self-Compassion

                      Facebook is an epic time-suck, but that doesn’t mean you should criticize yourself every time you log-on to your feed. Beating yourself up will make you feel bad about yourself, which will ironically cause you to be even more tempted.

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                      Self-loathing can only lead to failure. You might end up deciding it’s hopeless because you are “too lazy.”  If you want to break your addiction for good, then you need to be self-compassionate.

                      5. Replace the Addiction With a Positive Alternative

                      It’s a lot easier to eliminate a bad habit when you decide on a good habit that you would like to replace it with. I applied this idea by choosing to pick up a book every time I was tempted to check my feed.

                      The result blew my mind. I read over a hundred pages in the first day! Trust me when I say those “few minutes of down-time” can add up to an obscene amount of waste.

                      Having a specific metric to track is important. If you want to stay encouraged, you need to have compelling evidence that your time would be better spent elsewhere.

                      For example, download an app to help you determine exactly how much time is spent on Facebook so you know how much of your life you’re losing to it. Then, when you find a healthy alternative, you can feel good about all the time you’re giving to it!

                      Final Thoughts

                      Facebook addictions aren’t uncommon in today’s technologically dependent world. In the pursuit of human connection, we’ve mistakenly taken our interactions online, thinking it would be an easier alternative. Unfortunately, this is no replacement for genuine, face-to-face interaction in real life.

                      If you think you have a problem, there are things you can do to tackle it. Get started today and improve your overall well-being.

                      More on How to Use Social Media Less

                      Featured photo credit: Tim Bennett via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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