My Choices for Extra-Classroom Collaboration

I think it is important for educational conversation to extend well beyond classroom walls, whether you are an educator, administrator, or student. Following are links to some of my favorite ways to extend beyond the walls into the web:

TitanPad – I love using this super-simple shared space for text-based collaboration. I also like the slider that allows one to see real-time edits of the document and possibilities for multiple file format exports.

Skype – This is well-known as a means for connecting video between two parties and more with a desktop version. This can be an expert with a class, a class to another class, or even simply two colleagues in various geographical locations.

Twitter – One can use this venue for various types of connections. Certainly, the most obvious is the option of following others with whom you share interests, but hashtags and lists open up great opportunities for organizing tweets. By searching certain hashtags, one can access many resources linked by others with similar interests, but one can also participate in live chats by hashtagging alongside others at prescribed times. I list certain individuals who are associated in some way, as well, so that I can keep up with certain topics about which they tweet without the restriction of a particular hashtag. I find that students also engage in conversation on Twitter when those leading them to do so become especially energetic about the collaboration.

Twiddla – What I particularly like about this website is its similarity to TitanPad and the capabilities that extend beyond text. I can see how this could get messy occasionally, but the possibilities outweigh the potential messiness. You can choose to annotate a web page, operate in an EtherPad environment, or use the least restrictive whiteboard. Many of the options are available for free unless you want to save or personalize a profile.

VoiceThread – I love the integration of the audio/visual elements in this particular venue for setting up a non-threatening environment for student and colleague response to video or still prompts. There is now a cost associated with this, but if all possible people are involved in the conversations with effective use of technology, it may well be worth the cost.

TodaysMeet – This is somewhat similar to Twitter but allows for text and hyperlinks and much simpler backchanneling without any need for account setup, and the whole conversation can be easily accessed in the present and the future (temporarily).

UStream – This is a nice video broadcaster that allows for text responses and archiving. I am still learning the possibilities, but I have enjoyed attending events via UStream that I could otherwise not attend.

As with any collaborative venture, it is important to use etiquette and perhaps set some ground rules before rolling out the venue. I have experienced the aftermath of not bringing others along in doing so, and our digital citizenship requires respect and responsibility if we are to grow in our collaboration. I am very willing to consider other venues for collaboration beyond our school walls and welcome comments in response to this blog post that introduce your favorites.

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