Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning is essentially a brilliant concept. I am moving towards using it ever more to extend learning and open more channels for independent learning. However, you need to know your pupils well in order to use this type of tool.

If a site allows for an admin role to be set up, use that to monitor posting and interactions.



The world’s gone teacher/pupil site crazy at the mo – here’s the latest one, and it looks to be pretty useful. Piazzza is all about realtime questioning by pupils outside of the classroom and their ability to get answers from staff as and when they need it. Now, this doesn’t need to be quite as high maintenance as it might sound, as you can choose to be alerted to their questions in a daily digest email (limiting the attacks on your time!). All in all, I’m signing up!



The latest platform for collaborative learning – and it boasts a fresh, customisable interface and the ability to upload many types of file with your posts. It allows you to create a number of different group spaces, allowing for different classes to work together. Pupils can maintain their own blog on the site, you can set them projects, there’s a questions page – it’s all there – the one issue that stops me jumping in with both feet is the fact that rooms are publicly viewable. They’re one privacy setting away from a brilliant resource, in my book!


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This new site is going to be very helpful. Ideapi is in essence a site that allows collaborative work on documents, showing each revision distinctly, which could be useful for project work. However, the feature that I particularly like is that it gives you the ability to create templates for documents and save these. Really handy to use as writing frames and easy to mark and for pupils to re-draft their work. Great.




A good one this for communication with a number of different groups/classes. Once you’ve signed up, you can create lots of different private groups, changing your identity and profile to suit each. Uploading files and photos is straightforward, as is creating events – a nice-looking usable tool.


For creating simple, private groups for collaborative work, this new app is a winner. Clean, fuss-free interface, easy to navigate, minimal sign-up requirements and lots of features. You can create a number of room and invite members to each, so one per class, perhaps? You can chat, upload images and files, create quick polls and calendar events. Great. Just deciding which class to try it with first!




Wiggio is a site built to help groups work collaboratively – and it does that very well. I have been running a scheme of work with Year 9s that has involved them organising a full school concert – a bit of event management.

Wiggio has allowed them to communicate and organise their ideas outside of curriculum time. It has a message board, email, text messaging features. Polling, To do list creator, interactive meeting room, sticky notes – you name it, it’s there – FOR FREE!!! I can’t tell you how brilliant it is! As the group admin, I can set access levels as I see fit (no conference calls!) and it will give me post-by-post updates of site traffic so that I have full control and can stop anything untoward being posted!

Pupils need an email address to sign up and then they’re off. Teams, productions, projects, the applications for this are endless – with Smartboards, two classes could have an online discussion of a page of text in real time, without moving from their seats – hurrah!

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Primary Pad

It doesn’t get more straightforward than this. Aimed at primary school, but useful across the board, Primary Pad is a collaborative, online word processor. A superb tool for creating basic documents in an interface that looks familiar, with nice touches such as colour coding for each person’s work.


What are we scared of? It feels like the mere mention of using Twitter-esqe technologies to enhance the education process is enough to send too many leadership teams into meltdown. Twiducate is a great resource. We should all be using it, if you ask me . . .


The latest to chuck it’s hat into the collaborative learning ring is Webplanner. A very well laid out task manager with a lot of project-centred features, I could see it supporting older pupils – possibly drama productions etc. could benefit . . .


This could have some uses – it’s an online multi-user whiteboard which allows for realtime collaboration, and you can embed it directly into your site. Handy. It does have it’s limitations in the free version – only 5 users at a time – but if it were classes collaborating, that should still work fine, shouldn’t it. Also, nothing is saved on it, but for discussion and problem solving it should be a good tool.


Kohives looks really interesting, and give a bit of a different slant to the usual collaboration sites. You can create a number of ‘hives’ – screens for different groups – and invite people into each. So each ‘hive’ can have a different set of people allowed in, and you can also have a separate profile for each – so I could be ‘Kate’ in a staff-related hive, and ‘Miss’ for a pupil group. Sounds like it has a lot of potential . . . Within these groups you can upload documents, images, embed video, leave sticky notes, create tasks and update status’s. All these tasks can be opened on screen like mini desktop apps, it’s a really nice interface to work with.


Stixy is a very nice, straightforward collaboration site that would probably work well for pupils to combine their ideas and research at the beginning of a project.


Knowcase is a really simple site. No techy bells or whistles, it just gives you a screen to create a topic title and then have an online discussion about it. I can see getting pupils to contribute to a list of ideas on the Smartboard working quite well, or creating a review of knowledge and vocabulary.


Vyew was my first experience of playing with an real-time virtual meeting environment, and I was hooked! It is a great free site – however, last time I looked it was still struggling with being able to upload mp3s. However, for Youtube videos or uploaded documents it’s marvellous!

Learn Central

Learn Central has two definite positives to it. Firstly, you have the virtual meeting rooms which I think could work well in collaborations between classes or even schools, but also, the site has potential for professional development for us too with its regular hosting of webinars . . . really interesting.


Freedcamp has the potential to be useful. It’s a free project management site. With a teacher as admin, I think it could help pupils to organise a project or event quite effectively – although I might still veer towards Wiggio . . .


TodaysMeet is a fuss-free instant chatroom/meeting space that has a unique url and can be deleted after anything between 2 hours and a week. It limits comments to 140 characters, but could be a good AfL tool for reviewing learning points . . .

And in a similar vein . . .


MisterThread will do the same as TodaysMeet, but allows you to password protect your discussion area – nifty!


Oh yes – not the first of the on-screen sticky note brigade of course, but simple and really good looking. is just so easy to use – although be aware that IE finds it a struggle to run it effectively.



Teamdoer is the latest in the collection of collaboration sites. I am a huge advocate of shifting the learning focus away from being purely classroom centred and sites like these that allow pupils to organise themselves can be hugely beneficial (when moderated in the right way, of course!)