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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 June 18, 2019

                      14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have

                      14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have

                      Being a leader of a company or organization is certainly a difficult and often frustrating position – but it can also be tremendously rewarding.

                      Whether you’re just starting out as a leader, or have been leading for a while, you’ll be sure to benefit from knowing the essential traits that all great leaders possess.

                      Effective and successful leaders transcend the title of ‘manager’ or ‘boss’. They’ve found a way to achieve the perfect combination of charisma, enthusiasm and self-assurance (with a healthy dose of luck and timing probably added to the mix).

                      It may seem like some people are gifted with leadership skills, but the truth is most leadership traits can be learned, adopted, and strengthened with time and practice.

                      As we delve into the list of effective leadership traits, you will learn the behaviors and attitudes of a good leader.

                      1. Vision and Mission

                      Having a clear picture of what needs to be achieved is a crucial quality of good leadership.

                      This vision is often communicated in a mission statement, such as this one from Starbucks:

                        How to develop vision? Spend time pinpointing what you need to achieve, and then plan the steps to get there. Here’s a complete guide on creating your own vision.

                        2. Self-Motivated

                        It’s no coincidence that successful leaders have an abundance of self-motivation.

                        Without a decent level of self-motivation, you’ll struggle to become a strong and respected leader. However, if you don’t have a lot of self-motivation right now, don’t despair.

                        One of the secrets is to have definite goals to keep you motivated at all times. Some people also choose to reward themselves every time they achieve a goal, and this is certainly a good way to keep yourself enthused and motivated. Learn how to set an ambitious yet achievable goal here.

                        3. Optimism and Positivity

                        Positive energy is contagious. Great leaders are overflowing with this type of energy.

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                        Not only does a positive mindset make leaders easy to work with, but it also gives them a constant source of inspiration and ideas.

                        Tap into this energy by aligning yourself with positive people and positive goals. Find out more about the habits of positive people here.

                        4. Emotional Stability

                        In leadership positions, frustration and stress are daily occurrences. This is why leaders need to have strong and stable emotions. They can’t allow themselves to be easily knocked off track.

                        If you’re prone to losing your emotional stability when stressed or frustrated, try some of these techniques: breath deeply and slowly for 30 seconds, go for a walk, drink some water (instead of tea or coffee), turn your focus onto something you can resolve. Here’re some effective ways to control your emotions.

                        5. Self-Confidence

                        Watch a presentation by any CEO and you’ll see that even if they’re not natural presenters – they make up for this by having powerful self-confidence.

                        It’s not just CEOs who have self-confidence, any successful leader will have this trait in abundance. One reason for this, is that only a confident person can persuade others and gain their respect.

                        Worried that you have low self-confidence? Try faking it. Psychologists often recommend that if you ‘act’ at being confident, you’ll start to look, sound and feel like you ARE confident. And in time… you will be.

                        If you look for more ways to boost your self-confidence, this confidence coach has got you some nice advice:

                        How to Be Confident: 62 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

                        6. Decisiveness

                        Leaders are frequently called upon to make decisions (some leaders may have to make dozens of decisions every day). In fact, you could say that making decisions is one of the key things a leader must do.

                        Spend some time observing highly-successful leaders and you’ll see that they are quick to make decisions. They also enjoy making decisions, rather than stressing out like many non-leaders do when they’re asked to decide on something.

                        Put yourself in the leadership bracket by developing your decision-making skills. Start with small decisions – and then work your way up to bigger and more difficult decisions. Once other people notice your decision-making prowess, they’ll automatically see you as leadership material.

                        I know it’s really quite difficult to make the right decisions sometimes, but don’t worry, here’s a guide for you:

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                        How To Make Good Decisions All The Time

                        7. Passion and Enthusiasm

                        Expressive. Active. Energetic. These are words best describe a passionate leader.

                        Great leaders are lively, driven and are possessed with zeal and purpose. It’s this passion that helps them achieve big results. If you want to emulate their success, then you need to develop passion and enthusiasm for the work at hand, and the end goals.

                        Take a look at this Passion Pyramid to find out how importance a leader’s passion is to the team:

                          One way to do this is to find what motivates you, and keep your focus firmly on that. For example, i f you’re motivated by helping others, then make sure your role and company are both suited to realizing this. If you’re motivated by money, then put your focus on achieving bonuses and pay rises.

                          Take a look at Leo Babauta’s guide on how to find your passion.

                          8. Accountability and Responsibility

                          Exceptional leaders know that at all times they’ll need to take responsibility for tasks and their results. This includes things likes individual and team performance, as well as being accountable for when things go wrong.

                          When negative things occur (and you can guarantee they will from time-to-time), a great leader will immediately step in and take responsibility. Initially, they’ll try to resolve the problem in as quick and smooth a way as possible. But if this is not feasible, they’ll be sure to say that the buck stops with them – and they take full responsibility for what has happened.

                          To develop your leadership skills, you must never shy away from responsibility or accountability. If you prefer to sweep mistakes under the carpet, then you’re demonstrating non-leadership traits. Try owning up to issues and finding solutions to them. By doing this, you’ll immediately gain people’s respect.

                          Find out some tips on how to be a more responsible person here.

                          9. Focus

                          Distractions are everywhere. And it takes major focus to stay committed to tasks and goals. The best leaders understand this, and therefore, they’re always looking at ways to boost their team’s focus.

                          One way leaders do this, is to keep their team intensely focused on the bigger picture. This might entail allocating specific time for tasks and eliminating any non-essential work.

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                          If you’re easily knocked off track, you’ll need to spend some time boosting your focus. Try planning your day, week, month and year to help ensure that you don’t fall behind with achieving your goals. Check out the 7 strategies of staying super focus recommended by a productivity coach.

                          10. Ever-Learning

                          Leaders know that to be successful they need to continually update their skills and knowledge. They deliberately learn all they can about their profession and industry, so they’ll able to make confident and assured decisions.

                          Why is ever learning so important? I’ll leave it to you to find out the reason here:

                          If I Am Living a Good Life, Why Should I Bother Learning New Stuff?

                          Imagine a CEO of a solar power company. His company may have amazing solar panels, but when it comes to discussing business with potential buyers, if the CEO or his sales team show a lack of understanding about the solar industry and future trends, etc., they’ll be unlikely to win any business.

                          It’s exactly the same for you. If you’re a team leader at an electronics store, you should make sure you fully understand all the products that you offer. But go beyond just that, and read about upcoming products and trends that might change what customers are interesting in buying in the future.

                          11. Empathy

                          The best leaders understand the feeling of their team members, customers and associates. They know when to praise, and when to discuss problems (usually in private).

                          Without empathy, leaders will be seen as cold, harsh and lacking understanding. They’re also likely to be regarded as untrustworthy.

                          One way to ‘put yourself in someone else’s shoes’ is to have regular informal discussions with your colleagues. When you do this, you’ll quickly learn their fears and desires. And when you understand why they have these – you’ll be in a position to express empathy. You can also learn to be more sensitive to others’ needs by taking up these communication skills.

                          12. Persuasive and Influential

                          Communications are at the heart of all transactions. Whether it’s pitching for a sale or resolving a customer complaint, how you communicate will determine the outcome.

                          Charismatic leaders such as Richard Branson (Virgin) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) are confident and persuasive communicators. They know how to win over audiences and leave a lasting impressing in people’s minds.

                          There’re some common barriers that you’ll have to overcome in order to communicate effectively:

                          How to learn effective communication? You could join the world-renowned U.S. nonprofit Toastmasters International. They’ve been training people in the art of public speaking since 1924, and members have included Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, and Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy.

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                          If you don’t have time to join a club, then practice your communications skills at home. You can do this in front of a mirror, or even better, video yourself presenting, and then ask some friends and family members for feedback. You’ll be amazed at what they pick up on.

                          13. Team Building

                          If you put a bunch of random people together, you may have a loose definition of a team. In reality, a real team has purpose, drive – and a leader lighting the way.

                          If you’ve worked in different teams and with different managers, you’ll no doubt have come to this conclusion:

                          Managers who treat their team members like children are unpopular with the team. Conversely, managers who treat their team members like adults, are respected and well-liked by the team.

                          The days of disciplinarian managers are passed. Nowadays, successful team leaders know how to inspire and motivate their team, while keeping a harmonious atmosphere between all team members.

                          14. Fostering Creativity

                          Solutions to problems are rarely black and white. Often it takes a leader who can ‘think outside the box’ to come up with answers. In other words, a leader must be creative, and also help to foster creativity and innovation throughout their team.

                          Creativity is not only associated with pursuits such as arts, literature and music, running a team can be just as creative. There will be times every day when you need to come up with ideas and give guidelines for your team to come up with theirs to solve problems.

                          The Bottom Line

                          Leadership is a journey of continuous learning. It is an amazing experience that will take you on roads you’ve never traveled before.

                          Begin now to build your skills and experience, pick out the traits that you currently lack – and then work on developing those.

                          It will take tons of practice and time before becoming an effective leader but eventually you will join the ranks of great leaders.

                          More About Leadership

                          Featured photo credit: unsplash via unsplash.com

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