20 Collaboration Tools For College Students
20 Collaboration Tools for College Students

Sharing and Storing Files Collaboratively

NOTE: This is the final article in a series of three articles about web-based tools to help facilitate collaboration and document-sharing among a group of people, stay organized with all of your files and increase productivity. View Part I (virtual meetings) and Part II (online file sharing).

File Storage:

Hey, I’m three weeks into this online team collaboration and my computer is knee deep in files. What’s the best way to share these with my team while keeping them backed up?

Box.net

Simple, Secure Sharing from Anywhere

Securely create and upload all of your files and folders from any device. Use links to share with others. Box.net can be accessed from any computer with its slick web interface.

Cost: Free for personal use. To use with up to 500 users, $15 per user/month for 1,000 GB of storage.

Dropbox

Simplify your life.

Your projects are scattered from your work computer, your home computer, your phone, and your mom’s desktop. Dropbox makes it easy to put all of these files in one, simple location on the cloud.

Cost: Free 2 GB of storage or $19.99/month ($199/year) for 100 GB.

KeepandShare

Share, manage and access all of your content online.

Great way to stay organized and share information. You may think about using file-sharing as a plan B or as an emergency backup. If a member of your team has a family emergency, it is nice to know their files are all stored in an easy access location for group members to divide up or read through notes. Teams do not have to miss a beat if a member needs to be replaced or flakes on a meeting. This program is unique in that the information is stored on a web account.

Cost: Lifetime free account with a 100 document limit or get a premium account for $49.99 a year and store up to 10,000 documents.

Usability: Seems easy enough to collaborate with anyone from anywhere. See the video tutorial page.

Zotero

Grab your research with a single click

This tool specifically targets research-based collaboration. Citing sources, avoiding copyright infringements, and producing a bibliography your 10th grade English teacher would applaud means your back is covered and you don’t have to sift through a card catalog. Zotero actually does the sifting for you. With a free plugin and one click of the mouse, your research is saved and organized.

There are groups in the Zotero network with everything from Agriculture to Urban Studies. Search through documentation tags and forums to join the conversation. Great tool for starting team projects, wondering about current events on a specific topic, and what people are talking about. Save tags, share, and expand upon existing ideas.

Cost: Free

Usability: Search feature could use some work but the forums are great. Access to forums requires you to register for your free account.

INFORMATION

Pause: I have a horrible internet connection at my apartment, what is the best way for me to collaborate online?

Play: With so many open source ways to share files and collaborate, be honest with your team early on and let them know your internet connection is not strong and therefore, video conferences might not be the best way to share ideas. Your team will spend more time waiting for your connection to come through than discussing strategy.

If your team insists on video conferencing, let them know you will join via the chat feature. Figure out your most productive times of the day and tackle open-source file sharing and collaboration projects during these times. Do not put them off until after hours.

INFORMATION

Pause: How do you maximize productivity?

Play: Some do it through music! Here is a website that uses collaboration in the music world to make connections.

I need to add a document to an online collaboration whiteboard but the program only supports PDF files. What is my move? Also, I don’t want to spend any money.

CutePDF

will get the job done. It’s free and all you have to do is download the software and you’re ready to convert your document to a PDF.

Cost: Free trials for each product, $49.95 for a single license or discounted offers for higher quantities. The website is a bit noisy, but your software ultimately leads to clean, some might argue cute, documents.

INFORMATION

Also try PrimoPDF and PDFCreator for alternative free options to creating PDF files.

To Do Lists: To do…or not to do.

The age old to-do list is the next outdated organization tool that’s about ready to be featured on Xzibit’s hit MTV show Pimp My Ride, which, in this case, is also outdated.

Either way, much has changed in the world of refrigerator legal pad check-boxes.

Orchestra

Your to-do list, connected to everyone

Welcome to Silicon Valley at its finest. Start-up Orchestra is another to-do list app with a twist. You still have the option to check all of your items off yourself, but you have the additional option to delegate and share tasks with team members. Let’s say you have a couple of emails you need printed off and you know your teammate is going to the library. Assign that task. Other Orchestra users log-in and see tasks assigned to them and check them off. Items on your to-do list are being checked off while you might be working on a different side of the project someone assigned to you. You can update your to-do list from your desktop, phone, or by sending an email.

Use when: Your team is mobile and schedules rarely coincide.

Cost: Free

Usability: Comfortable navigation for someone familiar with smartphones and applications.

Group Calendars:

You need a time when everyone is available. Put the phone down and stop sending emails. Create a group calendar instead.

30boxes

Organize your stuff, plan your day, keep up with your friends.

Calendars: Little boxes with tiny numbers that hold insurmountable weight. Any way you slice it, our time is scheduled by these little boxes, so as a collaborative team, it is imperative you get on the same page with deadlines. This calendar allows users to organize time as a group and see the availability of other group members. Block your calendar off for your trip to Reno or keep it open in the mornings to work remotely.

INFORMATION

Your collaboration foundation has been laid out in front of you. The only thing for you to do now is introduce these ideas, platforms, and applications to your team and begin testing. Let this be a plea to avoid taking the easy way out. “When do you guys want to meet?” Lead the charge, save some gas money, and begin collaborating online to experience the advantages of virtual teamwork.

To review the other articles in this series about online collaboration tools and resources, use the links provided below.