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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 March 30, 2020

                      What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

                      What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

                      If you’ve got a big block of free time, the best way to put that to use is to relax, have fun, decompress from a stressful day, or spend time with a loved one. But if you’ve just got a little chunk — say 5 or 10 minutes — there’s no time to do any of the fun stuff.

                      So, what to do in free time?

                      Put those little chunks of time to their most productive use.

                      Everyone works differently, so the best use of your free time really depends on you, your working style, and what’s on your to-do list. But it’s handy to have a list like this in order to quickly find a way to put that little spare time to work instantly, without any thought. Use the following list as a way to spark ideas for what you can do in a short amount of time.

                      1. Reading Files

                      Clip magazine articles or print out good articles or reports for reading later, and keep them in a folder marked “Reading File”. Take this wherever you go, and any time you have a little chunk of time, you can knock off items in your Reading File.

                      Keep a reading file on your computer (or in your bookmarks), for quick reading while at your desk (or on the road if you’ve got a laptop).

                      2. Clear out Inbox

                      Got a meeting in 5 minutes? Use it to get your physical or email inbox to empty.

                      If you’ve got a lot in your inbox, you’ll have to work quickly, and you may not get everything done; but reducing your pile can be a big help. And having an empty inbox is a wonderful feeling.

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                      3. Phone Calls

                      Keep a list of phone calls you need to make, with phone numbers, and carry it everywhere.

                      Whether you’re at your desk or on the road, you can knock a few calls off your list in a short amount of time.

                      4. Make Money

                      This is my favorite productive use of free time. I have a list of articles I need to write, and when I get some spare minutes, I’ll knock off half an article real quick.

                      If you get 5 to 10 chunks of free time a day, you can make a decent side income. Figure out how you can freelance your skills, and have work lined up that you can knock out quickly — break it up into little chunks, so those chunks can be done in short bursts.

                      5. File

                      No one likes to do this. If you’re on top of your game, you’re filing stuff immediately, so it doesn’t pile up.

                      But if you’ve just come off a really busy spurt, you may have a bunch of documents or files laying around.

                      Or maybe you have a big stack of stuff to file. Cut into that stack with every little bit of spare time you get, and soon you’ll be in filing Nirvana.

                      6. Network

                      Only have 2 minutes? Shoot off a quick email to a colleague. Even just a “touching bases” or follow-up email can do wonders for your working relationship. Or shoot off a quick question, and put it on your follow-up list for later.

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                      7. Clear out Feeds

                      If my email inbox is empty, and I have some spare time, I like to go to my Google Reader and clear out my feed inbox.

                      8. Goal Time

                      Take 10 minutes to think about your goals — personal and professional.

                      If you don’t have a list of goals, start on one. If you’ve got a list of goals, review them.

                      Write down a list of action steps you can take over the next couple of weeks to make these goals a reality. What action step can you do today? The more you focus on these goals, and review them, the more likely they will come true.

                      9. Update Finances

                      Many people fall behind with their finances, either in paying bills (they don’t have time), or entering transactions in their financial software, or clearing their checkbook, or reviewing their budget.

                      Take a few minutes to update these things. It just takes 10 to 15 minutes every now and then.

                      10. Brainstorm Ideas

                      Another favorite of mine if I just have 5 minutes — I’ll break out my pocket notebook, and start a brainstorming list for a project or article. Whatever you’ve got coming up in your work or personal life, it can benefit from a brainstorm. And that doesn’t take long.

                      11. Clear off Desk

                      Similar to the filing tip above, but this applies to whatever junk you’ve got cluttering up your desk. Or on the floor around your desk.

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                      Trash stuff, file stuff, put it in its place. A clear desk makes for a more productive you. And it’s oddly satisfying.

                      12. Exercise

                      Never have time to exercise? 10 minutes is enough to get off some pushups and crunches. Do that 2 to 3 times a day, and you’ve got a fit new you.

                      13. Take a Walk

                      This is another form of exercise that doesn’t take long, and you can do it anywhere. Even more important, it’s a good way to stretch your legs from sitting at your desk too long.

                      It also gets your creative juices flowing. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, taking a walk is a good way to get unstuck.

                      14. Follow up

                      Keep a follow-up list for everything you’re waiting on. Return calls, emails, memos — anything that someone owes you, put on the list.

                      When you’ve got a spare 10 minutes, do some follow-up calls or emails.

                      15. Meditate

                      You don’t need a yoga mat to do this. Just do it at your desk. Focus on your breathing. A quick 5 to 10 minutes of meditation (or even a nap) can be tremendously refreshing.

                      Take a look at this 5-Minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

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                      16. Research

                      This is a daunting task for me. So I do it in little spurts.

                      If I’ve only got a few minutes, I’ll do some quick research and take some notes. Do this a few times, and I’m done!

                      17. Outline

                      Similar to brainstorming, but more formal. I like to do an outline of a complicated article, report or project, and it helps speed things along when I get to the actual writing. And it only takes a few minutes.

                      18. Get Prepped

                      Outlining is one way to prep for longer work, but there’s a lot of other ways you can prep for the next task on your list.

                      You may not have time to actually start on the task right now, but when you come back from your meeting or lunch, you’ll be all prepped and ready to go.

                      19. Be Early

                      Got some spare time before a meeting? Show up for the meeting early.

                      Sure, you might feel like a chump sitting there alone, but actually people respect those who show up early. It’s better than being late (unless you’re trying to play a power trip or something, but that’s not appreciated in many circles).

                      20. Log

                      If you keep a log of anything, a few spare minutes is the perfect time to update the log.

                      Actually, the perfect time to update the log is right after you do the activity (exercise, eat, crank a widget), but if you didn’t have time to do it before, your 5-minute break is as good a time as any.

                      More Inspirations on What To Do During Free Time

                      Featured photo credit: Lauren Mancke via unsplash.com

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