oes human interaction ensure that learners study better? Yes! That’s why collaborative learning is so popular.
It offers higher engagement, regular communication, and active participation. This method positively affects students’ results, irrespective of whether these outcomes refer to an online or offline course.
Yet, organizing such an event in a classroom and within a virtual space is different. To handle a class online, you need special tools and instruments. Which ones?
Read on to find out and learn more about the best collaborative learning tools for your teaching.
How to pick collaborative learning software?
Before all, you should understand that collaborative learning is a pretty comprehensive concept. Any learning is collaborative if it goes beyond the interaction between two people toward a specific task or goal.
For it to work online, you, as a facilitator, should consider the student collaboration tools that suit your course, specific cohort, or activity you designed.
There are two approaches to organizing the learning flow and setting the collaboration:
Approach#1. Pick a flexible platform for comprehensive and complex courses
The first method contemplates that you need a flexible and comprehensive collaborative learning platform. With multiple integrations, messenger, and activity builder, you, or your course administrator, can focus on teaching and not monkey job.
Imagine the scenario: you have different courses built around case studies, simulations, and think-pair-share activities. Each program requires you to adopt a collaborative or communication strategy and choose the right instruments. Respectively, you should organize each group’s community discussion, role-playing, and peer reviewing separately.
Sounds like a nightmare, right? Especially for an instructor.
Therefore, picking a solid collaborative learning software can be the best solution to deal with such a workflow. This option suits medium and large academies, corporate training centers, and creators with a large student pool.
Approach#2. Select a suite of student collaborative tools to support a task or answer the learning need
The second approach is entirely different from the first one. In this case, you first identify collaborative needs and then find an adequate answer.
For instance, if you want to create a community for the solution discussion, you will need Slack or Zoom as a place for discussion. However, for a UX/UI design course, you will likely need tools like Figma or Miro for peer editing.
At the same time, let’s consider a more complicated scenario where you can use various collaborative websites for students.
Imagine you organize a unique bootcamp course with multiple guests that involve listening, discussion, solving cases, and making tasks. In this regard, you can use Hopin for conferencing, Padlet for content curation, and Notion or Quizizz for making assignments or homework.
Sure, it will be hard work for a curator as well. However, the second approach gives you enough opportunities and freedom to create specific architecture, tasks, and flows.
The suite of online learning collaboration tools gives you freedom and opportunities. What for? To create an advanced curriculum and curate it as you want.
As a result, the choice of the best tools derives from the factors that influence the learning provision and form the needs. And here is the list of them:
- Number of courses and size of groups.
- Type of communication.
- Activities within the program.
- Desired level of student engagement.
- Suitable collaborative learning type and strategies.
Before picking the approach, think about whether it will add to or jeopardize the learning process you are building.
Best LMSs for online collaborative learning
In case you are to pick the first approach, the particular list of learning platforms and LMSs for collaborative learning is for you:
- #1 EducateMe: Powerful platform with a focus on cohort-based learning
- #2 360 Learning: Solid software with excellent features for corporate actors
- #3 Disco: Community-focused collaborative learning platform
Note.They are intuitive and flexible enough to create advanced courses and integrate other tools to support your program.
#1. EducateMe: Powerful platform with a focus on cohort-based learning
Disclaimer. Out of all tools, we place EducateMe on the pedestal. The reason is simple: we know that it is excellent for cohort-based course management and, thus, for collaborative training.
EducateMe is a powerful collaborative learning software with rich features and resourceful tools to handle communication and task management.
Firstly, it offers an in-built messenger, Slack-like channel, group manager and multiple integrations for hosting live sessions. That way, you can make students collaborate in cohorts, peer-review their works, or create a community.
Secondly, EducateMe has an easy-to-use course builder and a proper assignment management organization. Overall, it is ideal for managing cohorts and building your learning around collaboration. It will suit almost any collaborative strategy, from Jigsaw to think-pair-share.
Additional EducateMe online collaborative learning tools:
- Interactive assignments supported by the Kanban approach.
- Ability to create lessons with HTML raw code.
- Integrations with Zoom, Loom, Miro and more.
Pricing: 2-week free trial, then $2.5 per active student.
Best for: medium and large academies and companies providing corporate training.
#2. 360 Learning: Flexible software with excellent features for corporate actors
360 Learning is a flexible collaborative learning platform many business and corporate actors use for training. It is intuitive as it allows course or path creation in the form of a presentation.
This tool has great features for collaboration. First, it has a comment and news feed, forum, upvotes, and sharing to manage discussions. Secondly, there is a “learning needs” section where a student can ask for an expert opinion and comment from anyone in the group.
You can make different tasks with interactive questions, for instance, asking to pick-point an answer on an image or record the video. The software has good reporting functions. Ultimately, 360 Learning is an excellent platform for sharing expertise, igniting conversation, and exchanging thoughts.
Best for: businesses and corporations, as well as learning academies that offer personnel training.
Pricing: starts at $8/mo for a registered user (up to 100); prices for other packages are given upon request.
#3. Disco: Community-focused collaborative learning platform
Disco is another collaborative learning tool, yet, paying particular attention to community management. This approach allows them to have powerful tools for collaboration and discussion.
First, it has integrated direct messaging and threaded channels for effective peer-to-peer engagement. Also, its product builder tool is intuitive and allows you to create spaces, feeds, and pages and upload materials for discussion within each community. Even the interface looks like you are using a messenger.
It is an excellent platform if you prefer community and social learning strategies for reaching your business or education goals. It suits the Jigsaw collaborative method well.
Best for: corporate actors wanting to promote engagement or academies implementing cohort-based courses.
Pricing: offers 14 days free plan; paid ones cost $75/mo (Pro Plan) and $399/mo (Organization Plan).
Best online learning tools: depending on a learning need
Learning platforms can be a suitable solution for your organization, helping you automate the workflow and improve student engagement. If you offer training regularly and focus on expertise, relevance, and efficiency, it is the best way to teach students and employees.
Yet, what if one doesn’t need an all-around solution and wants simply to improve the established program or workflow with a suitable tool? There, much will depend on the collaborative learning needs and strategies.
In particular, students may work in pairs or small groups under the think-pair-share method; case studies and Jigsaw strategy will require splitting into cohorts to solve issues; guided design will need repeated communication between students followed by teacher’s feedback.
The following sections provide tools to add to the various collaborative learning strategies.
Collaboration tools for teachers to improve organization
One of the essential principles of online collaborative learning is the organization of student interaction. Thus, an instructor should consider platforms for collaboration that define roles and set the space for ideas exchange.
#4. Notion: Flexible tool to organize the learning environment
Notion is flexible, appealing, and feature-rich software that organizes collaborative learning processes. Its integrations and upload functionality allow you to easily share info, create projects, track progress, and provide feedback. It is an all-in-one solution where you can allocate and track assignments, handle databases, and remind people of tasks.
Pricing: Free, Plus ($8/mo), and Business ($15/mo) Plans.
#5. Trello: Solid collaborative learning platform with project management features
Trello is more of a task management tool rather than a collaborative tool. Yet, due to its project management options, you can define the roles and build the collaboration workflow. Its Kanban approach may be great for setting assignments, dividing into groups, and projects. At the same time, thanks to sharing and commenting options, it is ideal for implementing the Jigsaw approach and case studies.
Pricing: there is a free plan, as well as Standard, Premium, and Enterprise Plans, costing $5/mo, $10/mo, and $17.50/mo, respectively.
#6. Airtable: Spreadsheet good for planning and collaboration
Airtable is another platform that is good for planning and organization of workflow. It may look like a simple spreadsheet. Yet, it can offer much more. Airtable takes an advanced database approach focusing on data. Thus, an instructor can define the tasks, their urgency and assign them to students. The tool offers commenting and sharing options that are a must for project-based learning.
Pricing: there is a free plan. Plus and Pro Plans cost $12 and $24/mo.
Online collaboration tools for students to share ideas
Collaborative learning relies on interaction and sharing ideas significantly. Thus, we offer a list of great tools that allow students to provide feedback and create and organize thoughts:
#7. Miro: Powerful software for visual collaboration
Miro is one of the most popular online collaborative learning tools. It is an intuitive yet advanced whiteboard option that provides virtual space for multiple tasks: idea creation, before and after session discussion, presentation, project planning, and design thinking. Whiteboard space supports adding files, texts, drawings, and sticky notes and has tons of integrations.
Pricing: Free version with three boards, Starter and Business Plans cost $8/mo and $16/mo, respectively.
#8. Mural: Another whiteboard software for visual collaboration
Mural, one of the Miro alternatives, offers a fresh approach to visual collaboration due to its simple whiteboard. Compared to Miro, it can be better for smaller projects. It is straightforward and allows drawing, making notes and prototypes, and sharing or organizing ideas. It has live and recorded opportunities and is excellent for various types of learning, like think-pair-share or peer review.
Pricing: offers a free plan with three murals; Team+ and Business plans cost $12/mo and $17.99/mo
#9. Padlet: A wall for sharing ideas
Padlet is a convenient and visually appealing note-taking space that many may compare with Pinterest. So, with this collaborative learning tool, students can create one or more walls (boards) where they can place different posts. They may be a video, image, document, link, or audio. This software is effective for peer review, reflection, and brainstorming.
Pricing: a free version with three padlets and one user; paid plans are Gold for $6.99 /month, Platinum for $9.99/mo, Team starting at ₴14.99/mo, School starting at $1,000/year.
#10. Flip: Video discussion platform to ignite responses
Flip, formerly known as Flipgrid, is an exciting collaborative learning platform that enables students to record their video responses. That way, educators can start a discussion, get students’ reflections, leave, and ask for feedback. Importantly, it allows getting recorded feedback vital for engagement and community building. Thus, the platform is great for presenting ideas and peer review/teaching.
#11. Loom: Video feedback and presentation tool for better collaboration
Loom is another video recording tool that is extremely handy in providing feedback and presenting ideas. With it, students can record and capture their screens and back the recording with personalized messages. At the same time, people can leave comments and reactions after watching the recorded video. Therefore, this collaborative learning tool is ideal for project presentations, working on case studies, or Jigsaw projects.
Pricing: Loom offers a free plan; Business plan costs $15/mo.
Gamified collaboration tools for students
Effective collaboration is usually a result of a high level of engagement. What is a worthy way to increase it? To adopt features of game design into the tasks and activities.
In this section, we are to provide classroom collaboration tools that have interactive and gamified features:
#12. Nearpod: Interactive presentation platform with features for quizzes
Nearpod is a collaborative learning tool allowing you to create interactive presentations with live quizzes, assessments, and discussions. Even though the software could be more intuitive, it has multiple functions to increase engagement. For instance, you can add quiz games, like matching pairs, ask students to respond with drawings, and organize a poll or collaborative board discussion.
Pricing: Nearpod has a free plan. There is also an advanced one with more features for collaboration (available upon the call with the sales team).
#13. Kahoot: Platform for gamified quizzes and discussions
Kahoot is learning software that offers exciting features for making quizzes and assessments. Its main goal is to make them more engaged. In this regard, various quizzes and puzzles can be customized with a unique tool. Kahoot also offers features for discussions and video conferencing. Lastly, it has collaboration features for teachers.
Pricing: Individual plans start with Standard Plan for $29/mo. Presenter, Pro, and Pro Max Plans should be paid annually, costing $29/mo, $49/mo, and $79/mo. The Presenter and Pro plans for teams cost $29/mo and $39/mo (paid annually only).
Collaboration tools for teachers to create a communication hub
Lastly, as collaborative learning significantly relies on interaction, we should consider the list of tools that can allow efficient communication and exchange of ideas. Despite some of the particular tools being pretty popular, we can’t ignore them. Zoom and Slack seem to be crucial for any collaborative learning nowadays.
- Zoom. A well-known screen-sharing tool that has a chat and record meeting feature. The ability to change the background can add some fun. Pricing: there is a free version, Pro and Business cost $14.99/mo and $19.99/mo.
- Microsoft Teams. The main Zoom alternative. It has similar functions but a more flexible chat. Its free version offers more storage and longer calls. Yet, there are fewer integrations. Pricing: free option is available; other options, if paid annually, are Microsoft Teams Essentials ($4/mo), Basic($6/mo), and Standard ($12/mo).
- Slack. Out of many messengers, it is the most popular among business actors and ideal for collaboration. Students and instructors can create groups and channels based on the topic or assessment. Besides, you can send direct messages and have voice and video meetings with it. Pricing: has a free option. Pro+ and Business Plans, with advanced functions, cost 8.75//mo and $15/mo.
- Hopin. It is an exciting collaborative learning software, a suite of tools for hosting streams, webinars, events, and video sharing. Thus, it can be great for joint sessions between experts or within a specific community. Pricing: free plan; Starter Plan costs $99/mo; Business Plan starts at $6000.
- Discord. Even though Discord is for communities, it can be efficient for teams and small groups. Discord provides screen and video sharing capabilities, convenient channels, and threads to handle communication and multiple bots. It may be a great alternative to Slack. Pricing: the basic plan is free, Discord Nitro costs $9.99/mo, and Nitro Classic costs $4.99/mo.
Key takeaways: Define your need first and answer with an appropriate tool
Understanding which software is right for your online collaborative learning strategies takes a lot of work. You should consider multiple factors, including learning needs, the size of the course and program, and its goals.
Based on your analysis, you then pick the approach you need for managing the learning workflow:
- Approach #1. Use a flexible platform with features that will suit comprehensive and complex courses.
- Approach #2. Use a suite of online tools based on the collaborative learning need.
Our article defined that the best LMSs for collaborative learning are EducateMe, 360 Learning, and Disco. They are flexible and feature-rich, offering proper management and communication tools for managing cohorts and communities.
Concerning the suite to answer the learning needs, you should consider the communication tools, like Slack and Zoom, and organization and ideas-sharing platforms, like Notion and Mural.