4 Free Apps Teachers Can Use To Encourage Online Collaboration Between Students

Getting students to collaborate and share ideas can be a difficult task. These are some of our favorite free apps to use in the classroom to get students interacting and collaborating with each other in meaningful ways.

1. Flipgrid

Flipgrid is a great little online app that allows students to record a video of themselves responding to a set topic or question, add stickers to their video, and post it to a shared online grid where other class members can view it.

Ask them to choose a niche area of concept you’ve been studying that they’re confident with and ‘teach’ it to their classmates.

Split the class time into recording time and time spent watching other students’ videos, so everyone can learn from eachother and brush up on concepts they’re not as confident with.

Flipgrid also gives you some nice analytics that can make the whole activity seem worthwhile, like total hours of learning time that have occured.

2. Miro

Miro is a collaborative brainstorming whiteboard. It takes 5 minutes or less to set up a board for your class—just share the link and they can join, no signup needed.

It’s great for reflections on a film or text you have just watched or read.

Try this as an activity; put in 5-6 questions or topics each in a different coloured shape and get students to answer them using post-it notes. Your questions could be about key themes or characters from a text, key scientific ideas, or key historical figures.

Then, split students into groups and have each group organise the ideas for one of the questions. Export the final product as a PDF and send it around to students so they have a record of the class.

3. Padlet

Padlet is an anonymous notice board where students can post ideas, questions and responses to class related prompts. It’s great for quick feedback from students about an idea you are discussing in class, and they’ll feel safe to share as their ideas are anonymous.

They can share a photo, GIF, or just text, letting them express themselves however they prefer.

For an extended class activity, try setting up different columns with questions for students to answer and work through. Have them engage with others in the class by responding to other posts on the padlet by liking or commenting.

4. Explain Everything

Explain Everything, in their own words, ‘allows students to animate their thinking on an infinitely interactive and collaborative whiteboard’.

You can easily add students to the board, and zoom in and out so no detail is lost. It’s also easy to record what you’re doing and share it with your class—great for making tutorials or teaching a lesson online. Students can then make a video of themselves interacting with the board in response.

Give some of these apps a try to further engage students and encourage collaboration in the online classroom.

Ange Alcock

Ange is the Founder of Flohh. She is a teacher and head of English at Mac.Robertson Girls' High School. Ange is developing the Flohh suite of Educational Tools because she is passionate about reducing teacher workload so there is more time to focus on the needs of students, generally and individually.

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