Teamwork Makes the Dream Work! Tools to Inspire Collaboration

4 min read
Part of the December 2020 STEM Resources Digital Calendar!

One of the best ways to engage students online is through peer collaboration and discussions. Google and Microsoft have several apps and tools, which facilitate meaningful student collaboration and discussion. Students can use these suites of apps to collaboratively create presentations, digital posters, documents, infographics, spreadsheets, digital books, and more! Below are more free online tools you may have not yet discovered that take student collaboration to a whole new exciting level.

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Collaborative Discussion Tools

Google Jamboard is currently one of my favorite free tools for students to collaborate. Teachers can create multiple whiteboard slides for students to post ideas, draw, add shapes, add images, and more! So many teachers have created templates with graphic organizers, games, brain teasers, and more. Find several templates teachers created for you to copy and edit as you like in this Wakelet by Holly Clark, The Ultimate Collection of Jamboards. Also, check out this post, How to use Jamboard in the classroom: 20+ tips and ideas, by Matt Miller.

Flipgrid is a video response tool and app designed for schools. Students contribute a short video response to a video discussion prompt posted and can respond to others. Students can decorate their selfie videos with stickers and quickly generate QR codes for others to scan and view their videos. Flipgrid has tons of other features students and teachers love, such as accessibility with the Immersive Reader tool and the ability to create Augmented Reality videos.

LinoIt and Padlet are favorites among teachers and students. Teachers create a web wall where they can post questions, pdfs, files, audio, video, and images for students to quickly access on any device by clicking a url or scanning a QR code. Students post a response with different colored sticky notes. Students can share videos, pdfs, text, photos, emojis, and images. Padlet allows a limited amount of walls with the free version.

Parlay Ideas is a free platform where teachers create discussion prompts with embedded materials that students review, add a response, and respond to their peers’ ideas. The free version allows teachers to set up 6 roundtable discussions. What I love about this tool is the ability for teachers to quickly add content and questions suggested by the platform.

NowComment is a free tool students and teachers register for to engage in rich discussion over any uploaded document. Any sentence, paragraph, image, or video can have multiple conversations. is a tool that requires a free registration. Students highlight and discuss parts of a website, respond to peers, and vote up peer responses they like.

Active Textbook is a free iOS, Google Play, and Microsoft app with a variety of features teachers can use to create an engaging reading experience. Teachers add interactive elements such as discussion threads to existing books or documents.

Backchannel Chat allows teachers to control all aspects of an online discussion, such as removing messages, preventing posts, or pacing the discussion. Students join with a code.

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