Thursday, 27 March 2014

Apps for Student Collaboration

It often happens that while I am searching for apps to suit a particular need, I encounter a new app that does something more exciting and engaging than the one for which I am searching.  Can you tell I love tech? Such was my experience this morning.  There are countless blogs that have wonderful suggestions on how to create a workflow, having students use a series of apps to create a product or complete a learning outcome. This morning, I found a few apps that could be used to have students collaborate on a project.

I've previously posted about using Google docs for student collaboration.  I feel like this is still the best way to collaborate on a document in real-time.  If you are looking for a way to work together on a presentation, adding pictures, text, links to video content, annotations, and files, all while having the capability of video chatting, adding comments, and sharing your screen with others, then Real Time Board is the tool for you. There are many similarities to the way that Prezi operates, but the collaborative aspect adds another dimension to this tool.  You can invite others by email, Google+, and Facebook to view and collaborate on your board.  You also have the capability of saving your board as an image or PDF, or embedding your link on a blog.  This could be a powerful tool to have students collaboratively produce presentations and share and save in amazing ways!  I've shared a quick board that I had created when I first signed up for the account.  You can view a basic example I created on the human heart and circulatory system here.

I came across an app that I think would do some of the same things as Real Time Board called SyncShare. SyncShare shares drawings between participants that are invited via email, Twitter, or iMessage.  This app allows two iPad users to collaborate on a drawing or annotate on a photograph.  I thought that the free app was the only version available, but I soon discovered that the paid version allows the student to share drawings without limits.  You could take screenshots of content from the web on which you would like to annotate or include as part of the drawing.  The only disadvantage is the $10 price tag.  The Aww app is a scaled down web-version similar to SyncShare, which can be used, for free, quickly between users.

Subtext is another app that I would like to mention, although it appears that we do not currently have access to the app in Canada.  What is superb about Subtext is that you can load PDFs, articles, and eBooks and highlight sections within the text to have students engage in a discussion. There are too many features to mention, but I was presented with this app at a conference in the States and it has incredible potential for use in the classrooms.  Bring it our way, app developer!

Educators and students alike have the potential to extend education beyond the classroom walls, making learning a continuous, collaborative, and engaging process.

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