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Tools of the Trade

Collaborators, Assemble!

There are more ways than ever to support teamwork and student collaboration — even in these times of social distancing. This roundup of tools for collaboration will get your class working together in innovative ways, whether your goal is brainstorming, building or sharing.

By Caeli Mazara

  1. Twiddla free for up to 10 participants

    This whiteboard feature allows students to use uploaded documents, images or a web page as a whiteboard, and then invite others to comment, markup, brainstorm — the sky's the limit. Get the ideas flowing, whatever the subject.

    Grades: 3 to 12

  2. Edmodo free, premium fees vary

    Built for collaboration between students, teachers and parents, Edmodo supports teacher-to-student and student-to-student chat, as well as quizzes, assignments, homework tracking, and more. Think of it as a specialized chat room with an educational spin.

    Grades: 3 to 12

  3. Cacoo free trial; US$5–$6 per month with subscription

    Software for online flow chart and diagram creation, Cacoo is a colourful tool for visual organization. The site offers an extensive library of diagrams and shapes to get you started with your flow chart, calendar, diagram, schedule, wireframe, mind map, and plenty more.

    Grades: K to 12

  4. Scribblar subscription fee varies by group size

    Scribblar markets itself as "simple, effective online collaboration." Students share a virtual whiteboard and some writing tools, and connect using chat and audio. It's a format that's ideally suited to virtual learning, tutoring or after-school projects.

    Grades: K to 12

  5. Drawp US$0.99 for ad-free version

    This blank canvas app encourages students to get creative. Multimedia projects can incorporate text, photos, voice recordings and drawings, and students can share their masterpieces with a single swipe.

    Grades: K to 12

  6. free or paid options

    An online flow-chart tool with classroom participation in mind, starts with one brightly coloured bubble and lets you expand from there. It's a great tool for helping teams sort out how to tackle a project, divvy up responsibilities or develop complex presentations.

    Grades: 8 to 12

  7. Minecraft free

    Looking for a fun way to get students collaborating? Consider this popular building game. Lauded for a design that allows for boundless creativity, Minecraft also encourages co-operation and problem-solving. Bonus: Find subject-specific lesson plans on the company's education site.

    Grades: K to 12

  8. Jamboard free

    Want teams of students to brainstorm? Or prep a presentation? This intuitive whiteboard tool lets students work together in real time to incorporate images, text and graphics with ease. Plus, it's part of the G Suite of tools, making it easy to integrate if you're already using Google Classroom.

    Grades: 4 to 12