Tools – Collaboration

Collaboration tools are any tools that enable people to communicate and work/learn together online.

A separate section near the bottom of the page includes web conferencing/meeting tools – see Webmeetings

Note: Only tools that have been tried by FLO facilitators or participants are included. Some tools are free; others may require a subscription or other form of payment.

Coggle logoCoggle –

a brower-based collaborative mind-mapping tool (also listed under Visualization)

BethCB and SylviaR used to summarize last week of FLO Apr2016

  • free accounts – can share (or embed)
  • NOTE: tracking of user information may concern some users. Check terms.
  • 3 private diagrams (unlimited public diagrams)
  • collaborate by sending link
  • download diagrams as image or pdf (export as .mm or text)
  • unlimited image uploads
  • can arrange the mindmap branches
  • easiest mind-mapping program to use (IMHO – sr)
  • attractive, visually appealing, did I mention easy to use? (>1600 icons)
  • you can search the parts of your mind map – very useful
  • the blog is called “bloggle” – a little cutesy but whatever
  • only $5/month for basic membership Types of accounts

CreateDebate logoCreateDebate

a free web service to setup and conduct debates – public or private

  • create 2-sided debates or popularity contests
  • add as many arguments as you like but each person gets 1 vote
  • can add videos or URLs
  • can use educator account to create private debates

Note: interesting feature of terms of use – all information provided by a user unless the source is quoted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain License.

Used by Seanna & Ronald, Week 5, Mini-session: Assessment, Nov2014


Google Docs logoGoogle

Create and share documents, spreadsheets, presentations, surveys, and forms

SylviaR: used throughout FLOs / ISWos for planning, for collaborative knowledge development docs

  • free account – create or upload documents to store online
  • 1 GB free storage – individual file upload up to 250 MB file size
  • share privately to other Google account members, share with public link (no sign-up for participants)
  • set privileges for people you share files with


Linoit –

free, open board to post notes, images – called a “webbased sticky note service”

used by DonnaD in FLO-Design Pilot 2017

  • can use without signup (like Padlet?) but full features requires login; three access levels, Public, Friends, Private
  • can set email reminders
  • provides different backgrounds and layouts
  • claims to be mobile friendly but haven’t tested?

Note: During the September 2015 Section B FLO Workshop, the Week 3 mini-session activity included a task that involved analyzing communication tools.

Microsoft Office 356

Microsoft Office 365 is a communications platform offered free for students and faculty at most universities. It allows students and teachers to communicate and collaborate in real time on any device installed with office 365. It offers a bundle of tools designed for education, but the most relevant for communication is “OneNote Class” and “Skype”

Instructor Presence

  • Using the “OneNote Class” instructors can interact with students as a group in real time collaborative spaces and individually in students notebooks.
  • Within Office 365 there are a variety of tools that support communication between instructors and students. For example, SharePoint works like GoogleDocs, giving students and instructors a place to work on documents collaboratively. This collaborative space enables instructors to observe students as well as engage with them. Another tool is Lync Online which supplements traditional email and enables instant messaging, audio/video calls and online meetings between students and instructors. Lync enables students and instructors to see who is online (“Oh look, my prof is here I’m going to instant message them with my query about next week’s quiz”).
  • Each program in Office 365 uses a feature called “presence” that shows each person that is online and the best way to contact them at any given moment. The presence feature can be connected to your calendar which will automatically change your presence based on your appointments.

Supporting Student Learning

  • Since programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are already familiar to many people, there is less of a learning curve when used to facilitate online learning. For this reason students can focus on content instead of navigating the technology.
  • Supports diverse needs of learners as it allows instructors to upload readings, post video and video demonstrations, meet f2f with individually with students and as a group, and can accommodate learning through collaboration though discussion (IM, video, audio, and co-authoring).
  • May be particularly useful for adult learners as many work places use Microsoft office providing students with a marketable still that is relevant to their professional lives.

Community Building

  • There are a variety of tools that support interactive and collaborative activities.

Potential Challenges

  • Some smaller colleges may not offer Microsoft office for free.
  • Will take some time/support for instructors to determine how to best incorporate which tools into their teaching. Will take some time/support for students to understand how to use some of the tools that they might not be familiar with. Instructors might have to create/provide troubleshooting guides for their learners to help them navigate some of the tools.


a collaborative whiteboard / bulletin board tool

SylviaR: used by facilitators and participants during various FLO sessions

  • free account – some limitations – changed in 2018
  • use for collaborative planning, sharing content, collections
  • allows title, text, upload files (images, video, pdfs, documents, spreadsheets, link to web pages, take a webcam photo & add – 25 MB limit per file
  • no limits on number of people who can post to a shared wall; you don’t need an account to post; you can set different privacy levels
  • you can publish a wall on social media, share a link with participants, embed in a web site or course page, or export as a PDF

Prezi – logo

build a Prezi – invite others to help (also listed under Presentation)

SylviaR: used by facilitators and participants during various FLO sessions

  • free online presentation tool
  • use for collaborative construction of a presentation
  • allows audio, embed video, PPts,

SylviaR: discovered Prezi is easy to use collaboratively. Choose Your Tools mini-session used as an example

Note: During the September 2015 Section B FLO Workshop, the Week 3 mini-session activity included a task that involved analyzing a collaborative tool – this is the contribution from the Purple Team

Realtimeboard logoRealtimeboard

reviewed by JessicaC

Brief “Getting Started” video on Vimeo –


  1. endless whiteboard canvas (lets you see the big picture)
  2. collaborative tool (is an extension you turn on/off; invite collaborators)
  3. super simple and user-friendly!!! that says a lot coming from a tech cringer like me
  4. several templates to choose from with descriptions for each template and in depth demos for some…lots of guidance tools
  5. can be used to store post-it notes, images, documents, videos, spreadsheets, etc.
  6. Google Drive integration and Google Chrome extensions (bonus for me)
  7. can export as image or pdf


  1. Freemium account gives you only 3 boards and only 3 collaborators per board, 100MB of storage space
  2. Lacks summary/analysis tools of Stormboard


Although it seems like a fun tool, the cost makes it unsuitable for me to use for student projects so I cannot recommend. I will explore some of its features for designing lessons and group projects but may have to stick to programs like stormboard and webposter wizard for group projects.


  • Slack is an online app that can be used on your desktop or mobile application to collaborate with various individuals in various departments/teams. Slack has everything you need to stay in touch, all on one screen.
  • We recommend that the instructor set up the ‘team’ – it could be called XYZ Class, (thus being able to create and invite students to their specific group). However, there is the option to allow the students to set up their own teams, inviting the instructor into the groups. This option would only be used if the instructor didn’t need to see or be involved in the planning. Again, in our experience we highly recommend that the instructor set up the ‘Team’.
  • Slack is easy and user friendly, allowing ‘tech savvy’ and ‘tech newbies’ to be able to use the program with little problems. Students are able to upload their assignments to the screen for one stop learning, thus allowing students and instructors to showcase various assignments, webpages, documents, etc. all in one spot.
  • Some students, or instructors need reminders; with Slackbot (the direct messaging intelligent ‘robot’) it can help you with reminders…just ask it to. Another great thing about Slack is that there are integrated apps (too many to mention, but as an example, Google drive/hangouts/calendar, Dropbox, Blue Jeans, GoToMeeting, Screenhero, MailChimp, etc.). Allowing students/instructors to effortlessly jump between various platforms (ie: the instructor is able to use Blue Jeans for a video conference, or google hangouts to voice chat).

Scrumbler logoScrumbler by alisaria –

Contributed by SylviaCshe’s been playing with it since 2011

Scrumblr is designed by Ali Asaria from Ottawa (website no longer active as of Nov 2014) –

An brief tutorial on how to use scrumblr in the classroom:
And a more recent post (2012) about the tool and some alternative free collaborative whiteboard apps to try:

Scrumblr is an open bulletin board that you can fill with different post it notes

  • different coloured, lined post-it notes
  • collaborative – you can set one up and email the link to others and they can add or move post-it notes without signing up for memberships
  • distinct URL but no login or password protections
  • some issues in use with different sized screens (people found it hard to read the post-its if they had smaller screens
  • Canadian – very nice!

Stormboard –

Online brainstorming tool allows you to create and categorize stickies collaboratively.

  • synchronous or asynchronous
  • can accommodate pictures or other files
  • comment, chat,
  • great reporting tools
  • free version only allows 5 users per board; paid versions offer 30-day free trials

AndreaK : I used this in FLO Sept2015B, and was impressed at how fun and easy this tool was to use. I ran a mini-session using a 30-day free trial.

Tricider logoTricider –

Online decision-making “social voting” tool

Contributed by CheriM, Sept2016 FLO – used for Week 4 Activity.

  • asynchronous
  • flexible – allows discussion/debate through posting arguments for and against
  • people participate by being invited to your board
  • if you sign up for free account, you can subscribe to updates
  • you can post and share open questions (share to Facebook, create as a contest)
  • see features for more ideas –

Voicethread –

a Web2.0 service that allows you to upload and share various kinds of media AND enables viewers to view and comment using text, audio and a drawing tool

  • web-based tool – only requirement is up-to-date version of Flash
  • Free account is constrained – you can post up to 5 Voicethread presentations BUT you can’t delete them to replace them with new ones. You can only sign up for a paid account at $99/year
  • And they make it hard to find – “Keep in mind that you will not be able to share VoiceThreads securely or delete VoiceThreads to make room for new ones with the Free account”



Google Hangouts

Google service to connect with text, voice or video – free

Tested in FLO, Feb-Mar 2015

Note (SylviaR): worked well, fast response, easy to connect everyone – autosaves call and resources shared into the Google account of the host person. Can assign host rights to participants so they can share their screens, You can set up a persistent meeting room location so you can use the same meeting room URL to invite participants for other sessions – have to download plug-ins

Myra Rhodes took us on a more thorough investigation during April 2015 and used the broadcast option to see what that would be like. Here’s her contributions (thanks Myra!):

ooVoo –

Note:  Unfortunately, Ooovoo shut down Nov. 25, 2017

a free video chat and instant messaging service for any device and Facebook

  • free! – download and install – pay for credits to call landlines and remove ads
  • sign up for account
  • group video chat with up to 12 people
  • send text, picture or video messages
  • available on Amazon Fire Phone, Android Smartphone, Android tablet, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac, Windows phone and PC
  • can watch Youtube videos together while video chatting
  • built in self- or group recording feature

used by BrianC Nov2015 FLO

Remind –

a certified private messaging system intended for school use

Suggested by CheriM, FLO Sept2016

  • free with email sign-up
  • privacy terms are certified safe for children –**iKeepSafe**
  • real-time messaging for school, group, or just a single person
  • schedule reminders ahead of time
  • text message to any phone
  • translate messages into more than 70 languages
  • you can see who has read and/or responded to your messages

Skype iconSkype –

popular voice-over-IP (internet protocol) service that provides free calling anywhere in the world where a person has a desktop computer, mobile device or phone

  • video and voice calls with up to 25 participants
  • all participants must have Skype account (free)
  • can chat or message – while in video call too
  • share large photos, files, etc.

Note: updated Skype features high quality webcam video – fast response time – very easy to use – tested during FLO Feb 2015

Call Recorder for Skype –

a Mac-specific tool to record Skype calls

  • try for free – $29.95 to buy – free lifetime updates
  • requires Mac OS X 10.8 or newer and Skype 6.15 or newer.

Tested by SylviaC for Week 5 Looking Back, Looking Forward activity – Nov 2014

Evaer Call Recorder –

a PC-specific downloadable (purchase) tool to record Skype calls

tested by SylviaR during 2016 FLOs

  • free trial version for download – limited to 5 min recordings; cost for license is very reasonable -The license is valid for lifetime includes 12 months technical support and updates, and 30-days money-back guarantee!
  • Downside – stays active in your system tray – somewhat annoying – had some audio issues with one participant – never resolved why
  • Upside – very versatile – can record side-by-side and shared desktop – nice!
  • saves to your desktop in mp4

WhatsApp –

secure, free, messaging and phone service

Suggested by CheriM – FLO Sept2016

  • free to use BUT uses your phone’s Internet connection (4G/3G/2G/EDGE or Wi-Fi, as available) so you may incur data charges from your cellphone provider (unless you have a data plan)
  • available for most types of smartphones
  • send and receive messages, calls, photos, videos, documents, and Voice Messages
  • end-to-end encrypted, your messages and calls are secured so only you and the person you’re communicating with can read or listen to them, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp.
  • owned by Facebook now – see terms of service and privacy –

Webex –

Myra Rhodes took us on a thorough tour during April 2015. Here’s her contributions (thanks Myra!):


free account available – web and video conferencing service based in California, U.S.A.

  • free account – some limitations – can be upgraded to paid features
  • connects all devices and platforms (can connect to full room videoconferencing meetings)
  • HD video and audio
  • screen sharing, file sharing
  • participants can connect without an account
  • can record on your own computer – mpeg4 format

Note: high quality webcam video – fast response time – very easy to use – tested during FLO Feb 2015

2017 – Facilitating Learning Online workshops are hosted by BCcampus’ SCOPE and take place in an open source learning management system (LMS) called Moodle. Synchronous web conferencing takes place using a Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing room(s) accessed through Moodle. The following are help documents and tutorials from various sources – freely available on the Internet


BlackBoard Collaborate – built into Moodle system used by SCOPE online community

synchronous communication with audio through computer or phone, webcam video, shared whiteboard and documents

  • additional features are screen sharing and web tour- default setting is to be “off” but can be turned on

Note: demonstrated during Tues Synchronous Session explorations by MyraR – she contributed the following points – thanks!

  • Chat panel (with all or moderators only)
  • Whiteboard tools so participants can contribute
  • PowerPoint can be imported into whiteboard
  • Page Explorer for navigating the slides/whiteboards
  • Audio setup wizard for setting up microphone and headset/speakers
  • Telephone conferencing in case audience is not equipped for VOIP
  • Ability for up to 6 people to converse on microphone
  • Webcam video and camera preview
  • Hand raising, polling, emoticons and ‘step away’ tools for participants
  • Quiz creation & sharing with multiple choice an fill in blank question types
  • Clip Art collections available as well as the ability to create your own
  • Ability for moderator to grant moderator status to participants
  • Ability for moderator to give participants permission to use audio, video, chat, whiteboard, application sharing and web tour
  • Profile editing including profile picture
  • Breakout rooms and timer
  • Upload and play video
  • File Transfer
  • Blackboard Plan allowing you to load all activities including starting a recording or creating breakout rooms in advance of the session

Note: During the September 2015 Section B FLO Workshop, the Week 3 mini-session activity included a task that involved analyzing a collaborative tools – this is the contribution from the Purple Team

Bb_Collaborate_logo.jpgBlackboard Collaborate

  • The Blackboard Collaborate is a browser-based web conferencing platform that makes distance teaching and collaboration simple. With features like high-quality, high definition audio and video, and application sharing.
  • The ability to see the instructor as he or she speaks. Some instructors could use the Blackboard collaboration to conduct their office hours online with the students. The ability to easily record and share the interaction with others to watch at a later date.
  • Speedy launching and simple deployment mean educators and students can focus on teaching and learning with less hand-holding. And with broadened device support, including Chromebooks. Designed for one-stop support, the technology facilitates ‘one contact resolution’ by integrating multiple data sources into a single view of the student.
  • This is not a free platform and it could be costly to implement for small scale collaboration. Supporting larger communities outside paid customers could be challenging in using Blackboard Collaborate.

BlackBoard Collaborate –

Blackboard PowerPoint & Notes – in pdf – Blackboard Collaborate Presentation Notes

  • Myra’s Follow-up to questions asked during Tues Night Collaborate session –

Blackboard Collaborate Presentation Notes.pdfMyra_FollowupBbCollaborate

Tips for using BlackBoard Collaborate

contributed by DebbieM Nov2014

Participant Guide –

Tools – Collaboration