Collaborative Learning in the 21st Century

Collaborative learning is one of the greatest ways for teachers to really see who their students are as learners. It is one of the best parts of my day when I get to see my students working together. The ideas they can come up with when they are set free can be inspiring.

“Cooperative learning is not so much learning to cooperative as it is cooperating to learn ( Wong & Wong, 1998)” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, Malenoski, 2007).

Technology has given us so many tools to enhance collaborative learning in our classroom. I have loved making videos since I was in school so I naturally brought that into my classroom. I have a Flip video camera for my classroom that we use all of the time. Instead of writing a report or taking a test over a story, a great way to assess your students is to have them create a video. They can reenact the story, make a commercial summary of the story, make a talk show, etc. Once you make a video using whatever video editing program you have (Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, Adobe Premier, etc.), you can upload the video to youtube or Google Video and share your students creations with anyone!

Another great collaborative tool is Google Docs. All you need is a gmail account to create and share documents. It has a feature that you can edit a project and chat live with the people you have shared it with. Google Docs also includes Google Sites where you can create a class website or have your students create their own websites. Here is an example of a Google Site:

VoiceThread is fantastic tool that let’s the students collaborate with people around the world. You can upload pictures, videos or presentations and narrate or comment over them. People can use their phones, a webcam or a microphone to comment. Here is an example of a VT my students did this week on Fire Prevention :

There are many tools out there that will encourage collaboration amongst your students. If you have an idea, please share!


Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


3 thoughts on “Collaborative Learning in the 21st Century

  1. I think you have some great ideas. I am new to Voice Thread but have really enjoyed working with it. Using a video to reinact a story is an idea that I have never thought of. I will definitely try that before our next unit test. My students will have so much fun videoing each other and working on this collaboratively. I think that your quote is definitely true about what cooperative is to learning and learning to cooperating. I use cooperative grouping in my classroom daily. We actually do not have a choice in my district. We have gotten to the point of learn how to make it work for us and our students because it has to be done in every subject.

  2. Hi Allie,

    I really enjoyed your ideas with cooperative groups. I also like the idea of making movies, using Google Docs, and using Voice Thread. With your group of students, do you find you have to take a lot of time teaching these technology tools? I find with my students that many know how to play with technology tools to a certain extent, but most do not know how to apply them. I teach 6th grade and I am constantly doing mini-lessons on technology. Do you also have a lot of computer access? In my building, we have very limited computer access. We do MAP testing in the computer lab three times a year which takes over a month each. Then we are going to do our state test this year in the lab, which will be another two-three weeks. That is three-four months a year with very limited to no access to the computer lab. I admit I am a bit of a computer lab hog and try to get in whenever possible; however, I never seem to have enough time for students to do more than one or two digital projects throughout the year. Do you have these issues too? If so, how do you work around them?

    As for other ideas for collaborative learning, I have had students do Voki projects ( Katie Dorr showed me this site last year. Students can create avatars and have them say anything they want. One way to use this is to have a debate with the Vokis. One group of students could take one position of an idea and impute their responses into their avatar. Another group could take a different position and do the same. I find this is a great way for students who are uncomfortable speaking in class to share their voices or ideas on a topic. If you have any other ideas, I would love to hear them. Great post!


  3. Allie

    I love the fact that you make videos in your classroom all the time. That is awesome. I would love to do that but I actually never have tried it. Therefore, I don’t have much experience with it and always seem to shy away from things that I am not confident in using. Plus, I don’t have a video camera and our school doesn’t either so it would be hard to get ahold of one. I could use my digital camera, I guess, but it doesn’t record for long periods of time. I am hoping to get one for Christmas, so if I do, I will be trying it out in the classroom. The one thing from this week that I really enjoyed was Voicethread. It was really neat and I think the students would have a great time using it. I know I did! Great blog!

    Crystal Moyer

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