Online and remote learning has exploded in the months since the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns in many countries resulted in schools closing, leading parents and teachers to seek alternatives to keep students engaged with learning and schoolwork. This created a growing market for online collaboration tools for students. 

Fortunately, many software providers offer varied options for online collaboration tools for education. Students can collaborate with classmates and peers outside their schools, sharing learning resources and gaining additional skills, like digital asset management, online collaboration and teamwork, and time management

Why use online collaboration tools as a student?

Collaboration tools for students are crucial to enabling effective distance learning. However, these tools provide more benefits than that. 

Online learning collaboration tools recreate the feeling of community in in-person classes. With the right online collaboration tools, students can: 

  • Learn in new and exciting ways
  • Learn from students in different parts of the world
  • Create an organized and accessible repository of learning resources

These benefits can help students retain knowledge by building new experiences and learning habits. Using online collaboration platforms, students can build relationships with peers outside their schools and create learning communities, encouraging them to study.

Even as COVID-19 vaccinations are being distributed worldwide and schools reopen, we expect the best aspects of online collaboration for education to have a critical place in enabling learning and collaboration for today's students. 

Features to look for in online collaboration tools for students

Online collaboration tools for students add a human connection to remote learning. When choosing a tool for yourself or your class, the most important features to look for should include communication tools, media sharing, file storage, and adequate security. 

Below, we have compiled a list of essential features to look for in online collaboration tools for students: 

  • Chat and communication: To send updates and nurture a sense of community between students, peers, and teachers
  • Search and organization: To keep information and learning resources easily retrievable and organized
  • Accessibility and permissions: To limit access to private documents and maintain various levels of access to open programs, discussions, or resources
  • Security: To protect student data, identities, and web activities from malware and hackers
    File sharing: To enable teachers and students to share and learn using multimedia assets and files
  • Cloud storage: To access information and schoolwork wherever there's an internet connection
  • Mobile applications: To continue learning and collaboration on the go, using smartphones
    APIs and app integration: To connect and integrate with other useful school and education applications, making online collaboration easier for students and teachers

How to create a positive learning environment with online collaboration tools

School administrators must prioritize the creation of a safe environment for students to learn and collaborate without fear of bullying, trolling, and other cybersecurity concerns. 

Choose a student collaboration tool with a high level of security. Teachers can allot some class time to share best practices for protecting students, themselves, and their work when collaborating online.

It's the responsibility of both students and teachers to ensure cybersecurity measures are enabled in their chosen online learning collaboration tools. Administrators can also increase security by enforcing additional measures like two-factor authentication to protect organizational data and assets. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of collaborating online?

As we mentioned above, there are advantages and disadvantages to students collaborating online. 

Advantages of online collaboration tools for students include: 

  • Improved communication and collaboration between students and peers, both within and outside their schools
  • An organized and accessible repository of learning resources
  • The opportunity to learn additional skills, making students more organized and savvy with collaboration technology and remote work habits

Disadvantages of online collaboration tools for students include:

  • Security concerns, including bullying and trolling
  • Less engagement compared to attending in-person classes
  • Extended learning curves, which may affect many students' education
  • Dependence on internet availability and modern smartphone devices to work effectively

Can you get free online collaboration tools for students?

Online collaboration tools for students come in many forms, sizes, and prices. Depending on your school and personal needs, you can find suitable free online collaboration tools. However, before getting attached to a free option, it’s important to test its functionalities and security standards.

Choose software with features built for students and teachers to achieve their best while collaborating safely from anywhere in the world. Your ideal online collaboration tools should satisfy essential student collaboration needs such as search and organization, accessibility and permissions, file sharing, and security.

While social platforms like Youtube and Discord provide free, global-reaching channels for student collaboration, these platforms were not created to enable focused learning and collaboration. They may end up as distractions, causing lower student engagement and productivity. 

A project management tool like Wrike provides a free tier with functional online collaboration benefits for students, without the social disadvantages like trolling, bullying, distractions, and cyber-risks exposure. Wrike Freemium combines essential student collaboration needs in a fully-fledged project management and collaboration tool, enabling smoother teamwork between students.

Why use Wrike as an online collaboration tool for education?

While open social platforms like Youtube and Discord may be a good beginning for sharing ideas, media, and projects between students and teachers, schools and administrators should be more intentional in choosing online collaboration software for students. 

Wrike is free for students and provides a high level of security, with functionalities and features created explicitly to enable student collaboration and project management. In the past, Wrike has lent support to student engineering projects, robotics teams, and race car teams by giving access to complimentary Wrike accounts with full professional features. 

How to use Wrike as a free online collaboration tool for students

With e-learning and hybrid programs on the rise, it has never been more important to provide our collaboration features to all students. Using Wrike, schools and students can improve online collaboration to aid in assigning work, tracking progress, and sharing ideas.

Students can register for a free account with a valid .edu email address. They'll be able to invite up to 14 other students into their accounts to collaborate and manage work together.

If you're a student wondering if your school projects would benefit from Wrike, here are some popular student groups we have helped:

  • Formula SAE Collegiate Design Series teams
  • Google X Prize Competition teams
  • Business plan development for MBAs

Visit Wrike for Students to learn more and sign up today.