At first, studying online sounds like a primarily solo activity. After all, you can do it from the comfort of your home, without stepping foot inside a library or classroom. But online learning still involves being in classes with other people, working alongside them, and, at times, collaborating on group projects.
This might seem to present a whole host of challenges. How can you work together when you’re not even in the same place?
In fact, collaborating on projects remotely can actually be a smoother and more enjoyable process than working on them in person. Online apps can make the experience of working together easy, stress-free, and even fun. You can set clear deadlines, edit and comment on each other’s work, and join video calls to discuss ideas together.
Many of these apps for online working are designed for use by businesses. But the same principles apply to university students. It’s all about eliminating time wasting, increasing productivity, helping you to organize different tasks, tracking your progress, and interacting with each other.
So which apps are best for facilitating communication between students? Which digital tools out there can help make online teamwork simple and efficient?
Slack is one of the best known and most popular collaboration and communication apps for online working. It’s essentially a conversation platform where you can organize different chat sessions by topic or project.
Along one side of the screen, you have a list of channels. These essentially function as different chat rooms where you can instant message your team members—or call them directly. Some are open to everyone; some are invite-only.
This means you could have a dedicated work channel—and one for chatting more casually, getting to know your team members just like in a real classroom.
You can also share and edit documents via Slack, and customize notifications so you only get alerts for those messages that matter most.
Trello is all about visual collaboration. Using note cards, lists, and boards, users are able to work together, profiting from digital tools to make the process of online teamwork more engaging and efficient.
Trello’s project management and collaboration app works on the basis of boards. Each board represents a project. And within each board are cards, which represent tasks. This way, you can organize and track all the different elements of a project and upload files and other information to a single, central place that everyone has access to.
You can also prioritize actions and set deadlines to maintain a steady workflow, adding comments and links to other people’s cards for collaboration and feedback.
Like Trello, Asana is about enabling users to collaborate in a way that is intuitive and stress-free. Again, you have different tasks that you assign to different people, organize, and prioritize accordingly.
Free for teams of up to 15 users, which makes it ideal for student projects, Asana helps you to keep track of work and coordinate efforts. Tasks are shown either in a list format or on a Kanban board depending on what you prefer.
Each task can be divided into subtasks and you can add attachments, due dates, and other custom fields, as well as comments to allow seamless communication with other members. Workload can also be scored so you can see if any team member has too much on their plate.
Everything is archived when a task is marked as complete. This means teachers or students can search back through a project at a later date if necessary.
Collaboration apps for online working like Trello and Asana are useful for getting projects done. But at some point, you’ll need to chat with your fellow students face to face to discuss progress, ideas, or any problems that arise.
Zoom Meetings is a video conferencing solution that works on both desktop and mobile. It can support up to 1,000 participants at any one time, which gives you some idea of the capacity of the software.
One of the app’s most helpful features is the fact that meetings can all be saved—either locally or on the Cloud—along with searchable transcripts. This makes it simple to look back over meetings for information you might have missed.
The Monday.com collaboration app serves to streamline workflows and keep everyone’s eye on the ball, increasing productivity, and ensuring projects get completed in the most efficient way possible.
The app functions as a series of customizable spreadsheets. You log all the tasks you need to complete and note their current status and other information. Then the rest of your team can keep track of where everyone is—or step in to help with someone else’s workload if necessary.
The interface is attractive and easy to use. There is a great tutorial when you first sign up that introduces you to how to use the software. And tracking progress is straightforward as you can create an Actual vs. Planned task timeline, comparing where you are and where you should be.
The final app on our list is another project management solution that also aims to facilitate online team work, helping students communicate with each other and stay ahead of deadlines.
Whether it’s planning, managing, communicating, or sharing, Proofhub allows you to do it all from a central hub. On this one single platform, you can schedule work and discuss the details. Rather than long email threads, all discussions happen in one place.
Proofhub is all about ensuring everyone is on the same page. Users can benefit from features like to-do lists, milestones, file sharing, and time tracking. You can assign tasks to people, set regular jobs to recur, and get automatic reminders—so there’s no danger of anyone forgetting. Finally, the timeline view helps you visualize how everything will fit together.