15 Ideas for Online Collaboration Tools for eLearning

Collaboration is one of the most basic and important types of engagement that you can offer to your learner. In this post, I list some platforms and tools that can make teaching and learn more engaging by applying collaborative approach.

In one of my recent posts, I wrote about the importance of collaboration in learning. Collaboration is one of the most basic and important types of engagement that you can offer to your learners both in face-to-face and online environments. In this post, I gathered 15 ideas for online collaboration tools that you can use in your online training. This approach will help to make a cultural, intellectual, social and practical impact on a learning experience (read more bout collaboration in online learning).

And if you wonder about the platforms or tools that can make teaching and learning more engaging and effective, below are some suggestions.


1. WebEx / ZOOM / Microsoft teams / Google Hangouts / Adobe Connect / Skype Web and video conferencing

These tools are for video, multi-featured phone, and web conferencing. They have an integrated chat and recording function. Users can host and join in audio and video meetings, presentations and conferences. These platforms can be used to show the lecture slides on student devices and students can communicate in real-time with each other, their instructor and presenter by chatting.

The main capabilities are:

  • Connect with the user’s chosen device or call in via their tool-installed phone
  • Record discussion audio and video (for later use, the download option is available)
  • Facilitate an on-screen chat among students during a session
  • Start instantly or schedule presentations in advance
  • Share the user’s screen, webcam in real-time

For scaffolded online discussions

Eduflow is also a free learning experience platform to host discussions and other activities. They really focus on scaffolded online discussions. You can ask participants to answer specific questions; you can split them into discussion groups and require that they both post topics and comment before completing the activity. The power of Eduflow is that you can combine the discussion with other learning activities such as videos, peer reviews and submissions.

For adding a video element into discussion and collaboration

This is a video tool that encourages discussion and engagement. Students are asked to create short video-logs to share ideas and opinions. This is fun, practical, and utilises students’ love for video. These days, video submissions are often more enticing to students than writing essays. It is a great approach to long-distance collaboration. The teacher can add time limits to challenge students.

The free version has limited features but if you decide to upgrade, you can use a full set of features including student collaboration and video conversation.

For annotating and commenting on videos

I really like this tool – it allows annotating YouTube videos. As a teacher, you can annotate YouTube videos with points, tasks and questions. Students and teachers can add comments to video ‘Ants’, to critique video, ask questions and comments.

Examples of use:
  • Annotate existing videos – e.g. lectures with your own comments, or tasks for students.
  • Record your lectures, upload to youtube and ask students to critique video style, and ask probing and clarifying questions or point out bias.
  • Use it in video assessment to provide feedback (an excellent review tool when analysing and assessing practice tasks or practical skills)

For creating content

Students and teachers can use Drive to manage worksheets documents, interactive classroom projects and activities collaboratively.

For sharing and discussing ideas and resources

Padlet is a virtual space where students can post their questions, thoughts, and ideas for discussion. It allows for creative collaboration using a range of different mixed media sources.

It is a bit like a wall, or a large sheet of paper and the students will fill in this virtual paper with images, connections, words, questions, quotes. Padlet boards can be developed by individuals or collaboratively by groups of students.

For online discussion with analytics

An online tool that might be interesting in terms of moving and tracking the conversation discussion online. It can be embedded as a part of the assessment. As an educator, you post a discussion prompt. Each student reviews the materials provided and submits a response. Other students can join the discussion, provide constructive peer feedback, and build on each other’s ideas. The discussion can be carried on live.

The app has an analytics function, and you can review engagement data with the class, and reflect on how to improve discussions in the future.

For a bit of entertainment and gamification

Game-based learning and content reinforcement through competition and collaboration.

For adding interactivity to presentations

A tool for Google Slide presentations and templates that allows you to transform ‘presentations into classroom conversations with an array of interactive and formative assessment questions.’

To collaborate using audio recordings

Integration of voice and other types of media for commenting on an original artefact. VoiceThread offers a natural online interaction that lends itself to students presenting and defending their work before experts and peers.

Not strictly to collaborate, but can be used to encourage discussion

An app designed to allow students to demonstrate knowledge visually, via a type of whiteboard presentations. It is a whiteboard and screencasting app that can assist a flipped classroom model, allowing teachers and students to access content asynchronously. As an educator, you can push content and let learners access it.

Online scavenger hunts

An app for online scavenger hunts. Blends together the fun of scavenger hunts with mobile technology to create engaging learning experiences. As an educator, create the game (a brand new game or from a template library) and add the missions your participants will complete to earn points. As part of the mission, participants will submit a photo, a video, a text response or check-in at a particular location. Invite your participants and start the game. They can join on iOS or Android apps. Once in your game, participants will be able to see your missions and complete them for points!

You can track and review the progress via the Leaderboard and activity feed. This is a great tool to keep participants engaged and connected. It is often used for team-building and content reinforcement.

For providing peer feedback

A free online platform to facilitate peer feedback sessions with students. Students can learn by providing feedback.

Plagiarism tool with a built-in discussion platform

In addition to the most known function, which is an efficient online plagiarism detector, Turnitin has other lesser-known features such as an integrated discussion platform.

15. Facebook /Slack/Whatsapp/

For instant communication online

If you open a group or a page dedicated to your class, you’ll get an online discussion board of your own to collaborate freely. Students often choose the communicate via these external channels over the LMS forums, as they are more intuitive and easier to use.


Featured photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

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