Collaboration in learning means we learn something together, by working in groups on tasks, projects, or concepts. When we collaborate, our ideas complement each other, so it helps to break down information silos and enhance the experience of every single learner.
Online collaboration is the process in which digital technologies help us work together when we are apart. It has never been more urgent than now, during the pandemic, and it’s more important than ever to bring students together and engage them in training remotely. Now, there are plenty of online learning collaboration tools for any task. It’s pretty hard to choose a proper one from abundant tools.
These 30+ online learning collaboration tools will support you on the way to establishing a truly collaborative eLearning environment. We’ve divided them into categories to match your current tasks. Check out this listicle and experiment with them to find out which ones work best for you.
Content Curation Tools
To collaborate on an online course plan or a lesson, gathering and managing relevant info is a critical starting point. In classes, students can collect images for group art projects or share articles for research, thereby learning how to work with digital archives together. Either way, content curation tools will help you facilitate the collecting and sharing of textual and visual information. Their powers for collaboration in eLearning are clear, so let’s dive into them.
1. Padlet – Gather web content
Padlet is a digital bulletin board similar to well-known Pinterest but designed especially for collaboration. It’s like a wall or a notice board, where the entire class can allocate documents, links, video, and images online for further implementation. For example, you can collect important classroom files or have students gather resources for research. A powerful feedback tool will help you assess students’ work.
Cost: free version; $99 per user/year (Business); $2000/year (School).
2. Wakelet – Gather web content and bookmark everything
Wakelet is another curation tool, an alternative to Padlet. It is a digital bookmarking platform that allows you to collect multimedia resources in folders and manage them. With Wakelet, you can bookmark everything on the Internet, even tweets. Then you can put your content into off-the-shelf templates for lesson plans, group projects, research, assignments, etc., and embed this into an LMS.
3. Diigo – Gather web content, annotate, and share it
Diigo is a free bookmarking tool available as a browser extension or a mobile app. With Diigo, you can organize your personal library of any online resources, highlight them, and put sticky notes on them. Set up a Diigo group and share the resources you’ve found with colleagues or students, discuss them in attached comments, and start forum discussions.
Cost: free by default and for educators; other versions from $40/year.
4. Zotero – Gather sources for research and share them
Zotero is a free research software that helps you to collect research sources and papers from various sites, and store and share them all in one place. You can build a common research base or a collaborative bibliography list, collaborate on ongoing projects with colleagues in public or private Zotero groups, and discover people with similar interests with tagging and citations.
5. Symbaloo – Get your tiles in a row
Symbaloo is a homepage curation tool that organizes online resources, games, videos, and other files into tiles. To create a fun and engaging learning path, you can embed articles, videos, or quiz questions into a customizable pathway of tiles and share it with your students. To search for content curated by other educators, look in Symbaloo’s gallery. This will also help teachers to collaborate on curriculum mapping.
Cost: free version; pro versions start from $49/year.
Online Discussion Tools
Discussion tends to be a driver for student-centered learning. Teachers facilitate discussions to let students generate ideas, organize, and summarize them. Actually, getting students to talk and share ideas can be challenging, especially when it comes to remote learning. To make it easier, online tools with functions like visual brainstorming or short video responding are at your service. With their help, you can engage your shy students or those who resist participating in class.
6. ConceptBoard – Think together and draw on a whiteboard
ConceptBoard is a collaborative online whiteboard for representing ideas in visual flowcharts. Edit content together on a digital canvas, use screen share and video chat, and draw sketches to brainstorm ideas graphically. You can also attach sticky notes, drag-and-drop images, videos, PDFs, and other files on this whiteboard.
Cost: $6 per user/month (Premium). Free 30-day trial.
7. Creatly – Design and plan together
Creatly.com is a discussion board for collaborating on visual content: diagrams, charts, storyboards, design projects, etc. With Creately, you can share and edit lesson plans with colleagues or brainstorm a group project with students on an online canvas. The platform has a huge library of premade canvases, subject-specific templates, and embedded video conferencing functions.
Cost: $4.95/month (Personal), $6 per user/month (Team). 30-day money back guarantee.
8. Miro – Think, draw, and design on a whiteboard together
Miro is a free collaborative whiteboard platform that structures your team’s ideas visually. It’s like an infinite whiteboard with an easily understandable design where you can conduct brainstorming, mind mapping, and more, synchronously. For example, you can let students plan actions on a complex project here, or teach them to work in a more structured manner. Invite people to collaborate on a board easily and keep in touch with the built-in video, chat, and comments section.
Cost: free for personal use; $8 per user/month (team).
9. Flipgrid – Get video feedback from your students
Flipgrid is a free video learning platform where you can create grids – special places to allocate topics for discussion among your colleagues or students. They can respond and contribute to these topics with short videos. Employ it for debates, peer reviews, experiments, performances, and so on.
10. Nearpod – Make interesting lessons with online discussions
Nearpod is a free online platform for delivering interactive presentations and assessments. Find ready-made lessons and videos, create them in minutes, or upload materials from Google Slides, PowerPoint, or YouTube. To conduct an interactive discussion, you just click on any slide of your lesson, insert a topic on the slide, and when reaching it, learners can give textual, audio, or video responses instantly.
Cost: free (Silver); $120/year (Gold); $349/year (Platinum).
11. InsertLearning – Review texts together and complement them with multimedia
InsertLearning is a free Chrome extension for inserting learning everywhere you want it on the Internet. Add instructional content easily on any web page and enhance the student reading experience. For example, you can select a certain idea in a text online, insert a question or a supporting video to the highlighted paragraph, and ask students to discuss texts in an embedded chat.
Tools for Virtual Classroom Activities
What can you do if you strive to get online learners to interact with each other, but they only interact with their devices? You can take advantage of that! There are online collaboration tools that provide you with pre-made yet customizable templates for interactive assignments, games, and quizzes on any device. They will help you stimulate student activity in classes and boost social engagement while learning online.
12. Seesaw – Do interactive assignments and group projects
Seesaw is an app-based platform that allows students to work together on texts, PDFs, drawings, videos, and more. To initiate collaboration, you can add multimedia instructions to the lesson, assign certain activities to students and approve their responses with no stress. Students can keep a collaborative learning journal to share content with their peers and the teacher. Seesaw supports multi-language translation and will be fine for ESL students.
Cost: free version; $120/year (Seesaw for Schools).
13. Microsoft OneNote – Do assignments, work on files, and create interactive lessons
Microsoft OneNote is a cloud multimedia notebook for planning lessons with other teachers, sharing assignments with students, and conducting rich interactive courses and quizzes. You can do it all with sketches, handwriting, video, and audio recordings in well-arranged class notebooks and sync them all easily.
Cost: the app is free; the desktop version is included in the paid MS Office suite.
14. Kahoot! – Implement playful learning
Kahoot is a game-based learning platform with millions of funny multiple-choice quizzes or ‘kahoots.’ It is possible to take kahoots via video conferencing with a shared screen, while students answer kahoots on their devices. Kahoot provides easy integration with Microsoft Teams so you can work in groups with your students or edit quizzes with colleagues.
Cost: free (basic); €3/month (pro); €6/ month (premium); €9/ month (premium+).
15. Colltrain – Implement playful learning
Colltrain is an online collaborative tool that helps you move all in-class training activities online. Run your synchronous training course easily with premade activity types. Trainees will enjoy working in teams and playing live collaborative games like Play with letters, Play with Cards, Jigsaw, and Mix and Match.
Cost: $33/month (Standard); $54/month (Plus); 45-day free trial.
16. Buncee – Collaborate on smart and funny presentations
Buncee is a multimedia presentation tool that allows students, educators, and administrators to make smart and funny presentations. Use it with no effort to produce buncees – interactive presentations and courses for the virtual classroom. Engage students of all ages to make buncees to demonstrate their knowledge in a fun way.
Cost: $7/month (Premium); $10/month (Classroom Lite); free 30-day trial.
17. Pear Deck – Implement playful learning
Pear Deck is a web-based application for you to boost classroom collaboration with interactive assessment templates. Insert them in your lessons from Keynotes, PowerPoint or Google slides in a breeze. Write questions in the flexible templates provided, then see students responding in real time or asynchronously and give them rapid feedback online. Conduct the Pear Deck lesson and the video classroom session at the same time.
Cost: free (Basic); $150/year (Individual Premium).
Collaborative Authoring Tools
An authoring tool is a software for creating digital educational content (courses, video lectures, quizzes, etc.) and then sharing it with students via a learning management system or on the Web. While working on courses in teams, instructional designers need to exchange emails 100 times a day. No wonder they often find collaboration time consuming and messy! It’s much more convenient to have a common space for building, editing, and reviewing courses together. We’ve enlisted some authoring tools below that have strong collaborative potential.
18. iSpring Suite Max
iSpring Suite Max is a desktop software that allows you to develop online courses, quizzes, dialogue simulations, and screencasts in the familiar PowerPoint interface. It features iSpring Space where authors can store projects, collaborate on contents and design, and receive feedback and comments.
Cost: starting from $770 per author/year; free 14-day trial.
19. Articulate 360
Articulate 360 is a suite of nine interconnected products, with Storyline 360 as the flagship authoring tool for creating online slides that include voice-overs, video, and animation. For premium plan users, it supports sharing slides with your team and editing them together. Articulate Review 360 will be helpful if you need to collect feedback from various stakeholders and track comment history.
Cost: from $999/ year; free 60-day trial.
H5P is a free open-source plug-in for collaborating on interactive courses and other educational projects in web browsers. Here, you can create rich HTML5 content such as interactive videos, games, and flashcards. You can share the content you made with other contributors on popular platforms like WordPress, Moodle, or Drupal, and LMSs that support LTI.
Udutu is a free web-based tool for building interactive courses in your browser. With its help, you can create different kinds of activities, including assessments, interactive modules, and branching scenarios. An unlimited number of course designers and SMEs can collaborate on the content in the designated workspaces in real time.
Lectora Online is an online authoring tool for building interactive slides with quizzes. It supports course development with multiple authors and has built-in email and chat. With Lectora’s ReviewLink collaboration service, your team can review courses smoothly. It lets you assign users and permissions, check out other users’ versions of the content, add notes and comments in 7 languages.
Cost: $899/year (Silver Suite); $1,299/year (Gold Suite); $1,599/year (Platinum Suite).
Elucidat is a cloud-based authoring tool for building eLearning content most suitable for large organizations. It allows several authors (or departments) to contribute to the same project at the same time. Besides, big employers can produce online courses seamlessly thanks to team-level permissions, brand control, and a central asset library. You can designate a portion of content making to a particular department, so others can’t see what is irrelevant to them.
Cost: upon request
dominKnow is a cloud-based authoring platform for creating eLearning courses, games, infographics, knowledge bases, and more. It centralizes authoring processes for your team in one place while having role-based workspaces for different developer roles. Moreover, it has a central library for sharing and reusing content across projects.
Cost: $997/year (Solo); $1,497/year (Team); free 14-day trial.
Easygenerator is an online drag-and-drop constructor for making online courses fast. It allows for unlimited co-authoring with ready-made templates and 10 types of questions. Easygenerator has a convenient feedback option, however, only Team or Enterprise plans allow for external review of the courses or assigning different roles within an organization.
Cost: €83/month (Pro); €413/month (Team); free 14-day trial.
zipBoard is a cloud-based review tool for issue tracking and collaboration on web content. When building or testing online courses, you might face some bugs or issues in operation, so zipBoard will help your team simultaneously decide how to fix them. It looks like an online whiteboard on top of your website where you can discuss ideas with various stakeholders and even with end users.
Cost: $49/month (Starter); $89/month (Team); free 15-day trial.
Other Tools for Collaborative Content Development
Apart from online courses, you may want to collaborate on multimedia training materials like an interactive book, presentation or a podcast. These tools can be helpful in this case.
27. Book Creator – Collaborate on interactive books
Book Creator is a digital tool and a Chrome extension for collaborating on interactive book projects. There are plenty of pre-designed templates with images, videos, and audio for any subject or grade level. With these, you can create interactive instruction manuals, research journals, and digital portfolios together with your colleagues. Or engage students to work on inspiring book projects in groups.
Cost: free (40 books); $10 per teacher/month (1,000 books).
28. Soundtrap Edu – Record lessons and podcasts together
Soundtrap Edu is an online cross-platform software that allows you to record audio for educational purposes. Here you can make a high-quality online course recording, readings to improve fluency or cold call templates, and more. In the Studio, you can invite students or instructors to collaborate on a podcast by recording it on separate tracks, then transcribe it and upload it to Spotify from the cloud.
Cost: from $8 to $14/month; free 1-month trial.
LMSs for Collaboration
When running online courses, collaboration, as well as the training process itself, will be more effective if conducted on a single platform – an LMS. Learning management systems are cloud-based software for storing and assigning online courses and training materials, managing learners, and giving grades. In terms of collaboration, LMSs can provide user-role management, discussion forums, embedded chats, liking and sharing, and more. Let’s consider them one by one.
29. iSpring Learn
iSpring Learn is a fast and easy cloud-based LMS to kick start your training. There you can upload and manage any learning materials and SCORM courses, enroll students in groups from any department, and assess their knowledge. With Zoom integration, you can host Zoom training sessions and chat simultaneously right in iSpring Learn. If a trainee has a question, they can communicate with a course author or an expert easily from the course menu itself.
Cost: starting from $2.87 per user/month for 100 active learners; free 30-day trial.
360Learning is a cloud-based collaborative learning platform where any team member can create and improve courses. You can assign various roles to the project stakeholders and invite external users to review. The platform allows your learners to impact a training roadmap by sharing, upvoting, and commenting on their learning needs.
Cost: $8 per user/month.
Docebo is a cloud-based LMS that lets you leverage informal and user-generated content in eLearning. It aims to make eLearning as engaging as social networks and implements this vision in its Discover, Coach & Share module. Here, trainees can find relevant courses, ask questions to SMEs, and communicate in interactive discussion boards. In channels, they can contribute to group knowledge or study content in topics posted by peers and experts.
Cost: upon request
Schoology is a web-based LMS for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education. Its Groups feature lets you work on certain items with other teachers, have discussions on subjects, or create student clubs. Public Groups of Schoology facilitate knowledge contribution and meeting other educators in professional learning communities.
Cost: free for educators
As you can see, there are versatile online learning collaboration tools that provide us with opportunities for team brainstorming, multiple co-authoring, student interactions and their impact on the course, and much more. Some tools are more focused on the needs of teachers and administrators, while others are more about student learning activities. Either way, when choosing a tool, consider your needs and current tasks for a start.
Of course, the effective use of a tool depends on the task you have. That’s why we’ve listed the online learning collaboration tools separately. We hope they will help you motivate your students and/or colleagues to do something wonderful together. What would you add to this list? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.