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Collaboration Tools

by Peggy Reimers

Not so long ago, I had a colleague tell me, “It’s all about the collaboration and communication when you work at TCEA.” So true! The three tools below, plus a Diana Benner bonus app, are part of my work lifeline. Each receives a number one ranking in my book.

TodaysMeet is a tool to create a personal chat room. You invite people to the room with a URL and they can easily write comments or questions/answers for anyone in the room to see. Each message is limited to 140 characters.

I have used TodaysMeet for approximately five years, and it still ranks as my favorite. I liked it right off the bat because:

  1. You do not have to download anything onto your computer.
  2. You can set up a room in ten seconds. To create a room, all you need to do is name the room and choose the length of time to keep your room open.

As a teacher, you might consider creating a free TodaysMeet account, which gives you some additional options. The teacher can select who joins the room, delete inappropriate messages, and close a room on command.

If you want the Cadillac version, you can purchase TodaysMeet Teacher Tools for $57 a year. This enables the teacher to access the chat transcripts forever, pause the conversation, limit access to students and faculty at their school only, and mute unruly students without their knowledge. The final bonus of this premium access is you can keep the question or topic sentence at the top of the feed, regardless of how many responses are posted.

Google Docs is certainly not the new kid on the block, but Google Docs is the NUMBER ONE tool. In both your personal and professional world, this is a great tool for collaborating and communicating. You can plan a wedding, a picnic, or a family reunion without the confusion about which email is the most up-to-date. Google Docs can also make a great tool to divide and conquer at a convention, take notes at a faculty meeting, or tackle lesson planning with colleagues.

See the history of changes made to a file with Google Docs revision history, or, if you do not wish to give full edit rights to a Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide, use the comment feature. Collaborators and viewers can leave comments directly in the files to ask questions, make notes, or highlight changes.

Padlet is a virtual wall that allows people to attach a “sticky note” with text. You can add images, videos, and documents anywhere on that wall from all sorts of devices. A padlet can be customized with a small image and background.

Padlet has many great features for educational use, and creating an account is recommended. Four different options for visibility include: private, password protected, hidden link, or totally public. Choose how the posts will appear on the wall: freeform (posts can be put anywhere and resized freely), stream (posts are placed one below the other), and grid-like (posts are placed in a grid format). Another great feature is the option to moderate posts. The teacher can approve student posts before they are actually displayed on the wall.

In preparing for a webinar, I needed to setup a Padlet for seven different groups. This was as easy as pie with the Padlet copy feature. You can Copy with Posts (create a copy with the same settings and posts) or Copy without Posts (create a copy with just the same settings like title, background, privacy, etc., and leave the posts alone). This is why Padlet receives a blue ribbon on my collaboration tool list.

Since it is the new year, I reached out to my colleague Diana Benner to see which tool I should try out in 2016. Her top tool is Voxer. Voxer is a free Walkie Talkie app for both Android and iPhone. You can send images, videos, and voice messages to individuals and groups. You will need to download the app and create a free account on Voxer. In order to create a group chat, one person creates the chat and adds everyone to that group. To get oriented with Voxer, check out the #eduvoxer hashtag on Twitter.

Happy communicating and collaborating in 2016!

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