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8 Apps for Creative Collaboration in the Classroom

8 Apps for Creative Collaboration in the Classroom

By Bob Hand

Teachers around the world know about the importance of peer collaboration in the classroom. But what’s the importance of creative collaboration? And how can technology facilitate it?

Through creative collaboration, students are granted an intimate look into other perspectives on particular texts and theories. By communicating with their peers and expressing their own views, they exert influence on the final creative product. Through a natural process, they’re required to express, defend, and revise their own perspectives—key components of critical analysis and thought.

Today, educators have access to an unprecedented number of resources that facilitate creative collaboration, addressing everything from organizational concerns to the creative process itself. Interested in integrating some of these platforms in your classroom? Here are a few apps to get started.

More: 9 Interactive Tools to Enocurage Creative Learning

Trello

Trello is a project management application that has a wide range of uses, from logistics in high-level enterprise to household chore lists—and it may even deserve a place in your classroom.

Since collaborative projects often require that students delegate tasks to one another, it can be difficult for individual students to hold themselves accountable for their own contributions. Trello makes this process as transparent as possible for both teachers and students. Best of all, the “freemium” version of the app is a budget-friendly solution for any school.

MultiDraw

If you’re looking for a simpler application for young visual learners to ideate and organize information together, MultiDraw is a good choice. With this free, web-based application, students are part of password-protected groups and can illustrate their ideas together.

There are many features that teachers may find useful, such as the “replay” function that provides a quick recap of student activity in any given room. Of course, instructors may want to moderate these rooms to ensure that students stay on task and that certain students do not dominate the “dialogue.”

More: 10 Classroom Rules for Using Technology

bulb

An important part of the digital era is content creation: sharing your own projects while interacting with, and commenting on, the work of others. Students should feel a sense of pride over their creative output and bulb gives them the chance to do that, as they build their own creative portfolio, comment on the work of their peers, and reflect on their own progress throughout the school year.

This mirrors the real-world skills needed to succeed in higher education, as professed by Nobel Laureate Dr. Carl Wieman, of being able to “discover, evaluate and use digital information.”

mysimpleshow

mysimpleshow is a highly streamlined video creation application. It allows students to upload original images or select from a large library of pre-built assets. They can also record narration and play it throughout their presentation. This intuitive and simple interface makes this a great choice for younger students, as well as yourself, when creating quick presentations.

Some examples of how these videos look in action can be found here.

More: 8 New Presentation Tools for Teachers

Animatron

Creative students will likely love Animatron, a platform that helps users create animations. If you want to see your students get engaged with a presentation, watch the enthusiasm of a group of three to four students collaborating on their own cartoon.

When used in conjunction with Adobe Creative Cloud applications, it can produce some truly unique and impressive presentations. It also offers pre-built assets for students who are less inclined to try their hand at custom animations.

GameSalad

Regardless of the grade level, chances are high you have more than a few gamers in your classroom. GameSalad engages students by giving them the power to create their own interactive experiences. Students can demonstrate their knowledge and perspectives by working on their own games in groups while learning essential computer science skills—a key component of K-12 education since the start of the “Computer Science for All” initiative in early 2016.

Find more educational games:

Looplabs

It would be a shame to have students default to stock music for creative presentations when they can create their own music through Looplabs. Through this free application, learners can share tracks, add revisions, and collaborate in real time on music. This is especially helpful for dramatic interpretations of literature, where musical cues can enhance the meaning of student projects.

Whooo’s Reading

Speaking of literature, student groups are much more effective at working collaboratively on interpretations of literature when each member has actually read the material. Whooo’s Reading helps learners stay accountable for their own learning while encouraging students to comment on their peers’ reading and talk about the books they love.

How Should You Use These Apps Into Your Classroom?

Be careful when bringing new tools into the classroom; be absolutely sure that you want to commit to a platform before introducing it. Helping students understand the purpose and features of an application can require a lot of class time, so don’t waste valuable school hours on one-off excursions into platforms that won’t likely be useful.

On the other hand, don’t hesitate to get rid of a particular app if it’s not having the desired impact. If, for instance, the app serves as more of a distraction from the curriculum than a meaningful contribution to it, consider removing it from your “toolbox.” Here are a few other important tips.

  • Don’t forget to stress the importance of “roles” within groups. Artistically inclined students, for example, should oversee most of the visual components of projects, while strong writers should work with peers to plan and script presentations, and so on.
  • Explain the duties of each role, and show how each student will be held accountable for their contribution. If you choose to designate which students belong to each group, try to ensure that each group is balanced. This will reduce competition and foster productivity.
  • Finally, because many apps on this list have their own “chat rooms,” it’s important to avoid giving students unmoderated, private channels of communication. In an ideal world, these channels would be used purely for collaboration. Unfortunately, the prevalence of bullying makes the use of such chat inadvisable.

There are many mental, and even physical, effects that can result from bullying, including depression and suicide ideation. Moderate messages between students to ensure that all communication is respectful.

Time to Get Started

These are just a few of the apps you can use to bring more creative collaboration into your instruction. While finding the right resources and establishing ground rules can seem intimidating, the dividends will pay off exponentially. As the world continues to move into a content-centric direction, students will need to learn the “language” of discourse—and they’ll be prepared for digital content creation and successful communication in this new era.

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8 Apps for Creative Collaboration in the Classroom

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