William S. Altman, Ph.D.

 

Collaborative ToolsCollaborating

Group work is sometimes difficult, as students can’t always find good times to meet.  To help you with this, I recommend that you use some sort of online collaboration tool, such as:

  • Google docs: This service allows all of you to work on the same document together (in the cloud).  This means that anyone in your group can work on your paper at any time, and everyone will always be working on the same (and latest) copy.
  • Skype: This is a voice over IP (VOIP) service, which allows you to talk to each other as a group.  You’ll need high-speed Internet access, and either a headset or a microphone and speakers hooked to your computer.  If you like, you can also video-conference on Skype.
  • PBWorks: This will allow you to set up your own private wiki (do be sure you check on the privacy feature!), so that group members can create their own pages to work on things as they have time.  You can also put a schedule page up, so everyone knows what their jobs will be and when things are due.  Once you have everything you need, you can either move things into a word-processing document or to Google docs.  Another nice thing about using a wiki for your paper research is that it keeps a record of who does what, and when.
  • TitanPad: This tool allows all of the group members to work on the same document together.
  • SpiderScribe: This tool helps you create concept maps, which may be handy for laying out the ideas in your papers, or helping to create study tools.
  • Prezi: If you don't like using PowerPoint for your presentation, Prezi might be an interesting alternative. It creates a single page in which you can navigate to different parts of your presentation. (Use caution in using the navigation, though. Too many long sweeps and zooms may make your audience a bit queasy.)
  • Join.me: This allows one member of the group to share everything on their screen with the other members. There is also a conference-call feature, so that you can collaborate and work together on something you can all see.
  • Dropbox: Dropbox allows you to create a shared folder in the cloud. That way all of your team members can be working with the most recent files, without having to pass them around in email.

Project management is often difficult for groups. The following online services may help. They provide tools to allow your group to share calendars, files, and communications.