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Session 5

Online collaboration

Do you need to work with other students on your online projects? Join Tim to find out how to make the most of the cloud and work together with digital tools. The keys to successful online collaboration are only a click away!

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

Working together for study success

So, what do we mean by 'online collaboration'? Well, it's when you use digital devices and tools to connect and work together with other people on the internet. That means you could be completing academic assignments with other students all over the world! That might seem like a big deal, but don't worry – Tim's here to help in this digital video guide.

Tim talks online collaboration


Use the power of the cloud! Tim's here to tell you all about working together online.

To do

While you watch the video, see if you can spot THREE tips for working on documents and projects online. You can check your answers – in an activity – later on this page.

Watch the video

Show transcript Hide transcript

Oh, where is it? I’m sure I saved a copy here… Oh, hey. I’m just searching for a file I need for a project I’m working on with some other students. I’m sure I saved a copy onto my phone but I can’t find it, and the other project members need to work on it. Oh, and that’s what we are going to be talking about today: collaborating with others. Now where is that file?!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a copy of that important document on my phone, so now I’m in trouble with the other project members! I should have saved a copy of the document in the cloud. Of course, that doesn’t mean a real cloud. When we talk about the cloud digitally, we mean a remote server where we can save and access documents by connecting to the internet. That’s a really useful tool for working collaboratively with other students.

Think about it. if you are working on a project with other people in different locations, it makes sense to have one place where you keep all your documents and files so that you can all access them whenever you need to. That way, you can all make any changes and work on your assigned tasks at a time that works for you. It's great for distance learners!

So, howcould that work? Well, let’s imagine you and some fellow students are working on a presentation. If your work is on the cloud then all of you can access it, and reviewyour work and make edits. If you are using word-processing software, you can trackchanges too, so you can see what changes other collaborators have made.

There are lots of cloud-based tools for working together. You can use platforms such as Google Drive to store your work. And you can keep these areas password protected so only the right people have access. Other cloud resources such as DropBox or WeTransfer let you store, share and send each other large files.

And if you have large and complex projects to work on, you can even use cloud-based project management software. Some of these platforms will let you do things like: Leave each other messages on a message board; assign tasks to project members; create a to-do list, so that everybody knows what tasks are not yet completed; create a project schedule with delivery dates; store and share large files that everyone needs access to. Useful, huh?

Of course some of these project management platforms you need to pay to use, but others have some free functionality. And of course, many academic institutions have online learning platforms for their students that will allow you to work collaboratively with other students.

Oh! Ah. that’s my project leader now. I’m in so much trouble! Let’s hope he’s in a good mood. Paul, hi! I was just thinking about you. The document? Yes, ah, well, there’s a funny story about that… I’ll see you later… got to deal with this… bye. Paul, it's fine! It's just, well – it's gone. 

Collaborating on documents and projects

We asked you to listen for Tim's THREE tips for working on documents and projects online. Did you get all the answers? Check your answers with this activity.

Collaborating on documents and projects

3 Questions

Check you've understood Tim's tips for working on documents and projects online with these questions

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Tim's tips for successful collaboration

Here's what we've learned about working with other students online:

  • Working online with other students usually happens in the cloud – a remote server where you can save and access documents while on the internet.
  • Keeping your documents online can be really useful – everyone working on the project will be able to access them, wherever they are.
  • Everyone in your study group can easily review and make edits to documents when they are saved to the cloud.
  • Use 'track changes' so that you can see what changes other people have made to your shared documents – and you can see their changes too!
  • Protect your work with a password to keep it safe and make sure only the right people have access.
  • Use project management software to leave messages, set tasks, create to-do lists and schedules, send files – and much more!
  • Remember you may need to pay to use project management platforms but some have free functionality – your institution may also have tools you can use.

Find out more

That's all for now. Next time, Tim's looking at the using digital tools to make perfect presentations. Until then, visit our partner The Open University for more digital literacy tips – just click on the 'Where next?' link.

Where next?

Student Life image link 9  Digital Literacy index image link  GTD OU DL image link 8

Session Vocabulary

  • Find out more about distance learning – visit our partner,The OU