Many schools have gone digital during the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean that students need to suffer. Smarter edtech tools can offer collaboration and social learning features that will boost engagement and academic performance.

Help kids work together with tools that let them annotate, brainstorm and make media. They can also use these tools to communicate with one another outside of class.

1. SlideShare

SlideShare is a web-based content sharing platform that allows users to upload and share presentations, infographics and videos. It also allows users to create consistent visual themes across slides and link YouTube videos within presentations. It also provides analytics tools that allow users to view the number of viewers for each presentation and the source of the traffic (SlideShare, 2013).

Students can use SlideShare to collaborate on projects with peers. They can comment on each other’s presentations or edit them online in real time. The tool can also be used to upload presentations from classroom lessons for students who may not be able to attend class or need access to the slides after class is over.

Businesses can also use Slideshare to promote their products or services. They can add calls to action in their presentations and encourage people to visit their website or blog. These calls to action can help generate leads and sales.

2. Padlet

Essentially a digital noticeboard, Padlet can be used by teachers and students to collaboratively post ideas. The notes can include text, images and videos as well as links to articles. The site can be accessed via the web or apps on all devices.

For example, in a group project on historical figures, each student could research their subject at home and add their findings to the Padlet wall which is then shared with the class. This can be a great way to promote active learning, communication and collaboration in the classroom.

Another way to use Padlet is to have learners pool their notes in preparation for a debate, discussion or essay. This can also help with critical thinking and the evaluation of information. A teacher can use the backchannel feature of Padlet to facilitate a class discussion during a film or presentation. This allows students to ask questions or give feedback in real time. This is particularly useful for virtual learning and is a great tool to support the ISTE Standard for Students – Global Collaborator.

3. Parlay

Parlay is an easy-to-use classroom discussion tool to amplify student voice and make discussions more meaningful, inclusive, and data driven. It is a great fit for subjects with creativity or research components.

Teachers can build a lesson with a topic from the large Parlay Universe or choose a subject-specific topic. Then students receive a prompt via email, magic link, Google Classroom or Microsoft tools and they respond in an online RoundTable. These discussions can be conducted live or asynchronously. Then, teachers can review the discussion and see participation metrics in real time. This can help teachers identify which students need additional feedback and support during the discussion.

4. Wakelet

Wakelet is a free online tool where students can save and curate links, images, videos, documents, notes, and web pages in collections. Students can create and collaborate on collections with classmates (or colleagues) for projects, presentations, research, classwork, and more.

One of my favorite uses for Wakelet is having students create a collection as a way to demonstrate understanding of concepts in class. For example, if they have to do a math review, they can gather how-to videos from YouTube and organize them in their collection with a description of what each video explains.

Educators can also use Wakelet to facilitate collaborative brianstorming. Give each student a blank Wakelet space and invite them to join a collaboration. They can access their collaborative space by a link or QR code that’s autogenerated, or through an invitation sent to them via email or text. In addition, teachers can align classes from Google Classroom, Clever, and more for a single sign-in experience.

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