5 Best Collaboration Software Apps for Education Professionals

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These days, everything is smart. Smart houses, smart phones—and now, smart learning.

The smart education market is expected to grow to $586 billion by 2021, up from $193 billion in 2016.

Whether yours is a small educational institution, or you’re an independent educator, you need to embrace eLearning and adjust your teaching methodology to deliver learning opportunities beyond the classroom. Fail to do so, and you’ll lose relevance in the face of this digital disruption.

Collaboration tools for education professionals

Collaboration software aids digital learning, creative thinking, and ideation through features such as file sharing, videoconferencing, and chat. These tools allow teachers to interact with students from around the globe and extend learning beyond traditional classrooms.

In addition, the core functionalities offered by collaboration software help users manage projects and stay connected to peers, students, and parents.

To help you choose collaboration software that fits your needs, we’ve analyzed thousands of reviews from collaboration tool buyers in education fields and shortlisted the five tools they’ve rated highest.

The top-rated collaboration apps for education professionals are:

5 collaboration apps for education professionals

1. Asana: Task management tool with a robust free version

Asana is a cloud-based project and task management platform that’s suitable for all types of users and organizations. Educational professionals can create projects and assign them to users within the organization or team, or those from outside it.

Projects can be divided into tasks and subtasks, which can be assigned to different people. The subtasks can also be broken down further with assigned due dates to automatically notify students or team members of assignments due.

Convert a task into its own project if it grows in complexity. Users are notified when dependencies on other tasks in the project get cleared out.

Users can attach files from their computer or from Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, and Google Drive. These uploads, as well as other activity, can be liked or commented on.

Asana offers integrations with more than 80 apps, including TimeCamp (automatic time tracking software), Jira Software (project and issue tracking), and Campaign Monitor (email marketing software).

Task list in Asana

Task list in Asana (Source)

Common user feedback trends

Based on analysis of user reviews on Capterra from collaboration app users in the education field, here’s an overview of the areas of Asana they like best and those that can be improved.

What users like

  • Feature-rich free version: Many Capterra users are impressed with the offerings of Asana’s free version.
  • Easy-to-use project management features: Many Capterra reviewers credit Asana with simplicity, flexibility, and reliability in its project management features. In general, users find that setting project deadlines, scheduling tasks, and tracking progress is easy with Asana.
  • Easy team interaction: Capterra users note that they like how Asana lets them see entire projects and tasks in one screen to facilitate follow-ups and team interactions.
  • Powerful integrations: Asana users on Capterra say that Asana’s integration with other apps, especially Google Calendar, make it a more powerful project management tool.

What users think could be improved

  • More user-friendly training modules: Some Capterra users feel that the training modules in Asana could be made more user-friendly to shorten the learning curve for new users.
  • Time tracking capabilities: Many Capterra reviewers feel that Asana should have time tracking capabilities to track the individual time taken by each task assignee.

Who should consider Asana?

The basic version of Asana is free, and it offers features such as unlimited tasks, projects, conversations, basic dashboard, and search for up to 15 team members, making it a robust option for small educational institutes that need to boost task management and collaboration.

This tool is especially useful for project-based learning modules, as it offers tasks and subtask division, making it scalable. This also helps in evenly distributing the work within a project for more collaborative learning.

This tool, overall, comes in handy if your method of teaching goes beyond just assignment work to include group project work that involves the entire class.

2. Basecamp: User-friendly tool for managing work load

Basecamp is a cloud-based collaboration and communication tool.

Students and teachers can use Basecamp’s “message board” feature to initiate group discussions between peers.

For quick casual chats, Basecamp also offers a feature called “campfire.” Users can ask questions, address issues, or just ideate with one another. This feature comes in handy when teachers need to address questions or make clarifications outside of school hours.

Basecamp’s “HQ” acts as a dashboard and facilitates organization-wide communication, as well as providing a dedicated space for tracking specific projects. Users can view all activity and stay updated on incomplete tasks, e.g., assignment corrections or responding to student discussion.

The solution’s automatic check-in feature prompts users to update peers about what they’re working on at a set time daily, weekly, or monthly to keep everyone in loop. This eliminates the need for manual updates or searching through emails.

Educational professionals can leverage the automatic notifications and email notifications and reminders to let students know about assignments and remind them about due dates.

Key integrations for educators include Dropbox (file sharing), Toggl (time tracking), Eventbrite (event management), and Calamari (attendance and leave tracking).

Personal to-do list in Basecamp

Personal to-do list in Basecamp (Source)

Common user feedback trends

Based on analysis of user reviews on Capterra from collaboration app users in the education field, here’s an overview of the areas of Basecamp they like best and those that can be improved.

What users like

  • Ease of use: Reviewers on Capterra find Basecamp to be a simple tool with an intuitive interface. They like that they can assign tasks, send reminders, centralize communication, and attach documents in one place.
  • Effective real-time notification system: Users give positive reviews to Basecamp’s deadline management and notification system. Many users like the real-time notification feature, saying it bridges the communication gap between instructors and students.
  • Multilingual chat functionality: Some reviewers on Capterra note that Basecamp’s multilingual chat function makes collaboration easier.
  • Additional useful functionalities: Several Capterra users positively review the project updates, to-do list, and daily recap email features in Basecamp.

What users think could be improved

  • Enhance the project collaboration features: Some Capterra users feel that Basecamp is only suitable for a basic level of collaboration. They’d like to see more advanced features for collaboration on projects.
  • Improve task management with subtasks: Capterra reviewers say they’d like to have the ability to break down tasks into subtasks for more granular task management.
  • Allow color coding: Many reviewers on Capterra say that the visual interface within Basecamp is a bit dull and outdated. They’d like to be able to customize the color or design of the interface. They’d also like to be able to color code tasks based on their status.
  • Add a built-in time tracking feature: Many users on Capterra have noted that they would like Basecamp to monitor the time spent by each collaborator on their assigned projects. This would improve task management and allocation.

Who should consider Basecamp?

If you run a small educational establishment and want a user-friendly tool that lets you collaborate and ideate from outside the classroom, then you should consider Basecamp. The user-friendly interface makes it possible for users to get onboard with Basecamp even if they aren’t very tech savvy. Basecamp also offers free accounts for teachers and students.

3. G Suite: All-in-one solution for collaboration and communication

G Suite offers an all-in-one suite made up of apps for file sharing, direct messaging, group chat, email, and more.

One way in which G Suite facilitates collaboration for educational professionals is through the Drive, which is a space to create, manage, store, share, and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

Communication features include custom email for institutions and individuals, which is compatible with Microsoft Outlook and other email clients. Users can chat online, video call, and dial registered phone numbers on Hangouts. Share knowledge, updates, and ideas on topics of interests using Google+, the social networking component.

The online calendar tools lets users share their calendar and availability with others to streamline communication and schedule meetings more efficiently.

G Suite integrates with relevant apps such as Acuity Scheduling (online appointment scheduling), Calamari (attendance tracking), Classe365 (student management software), Digital Chalk (online training software and learning management system), and more.

G Suite apps

Host of apps within G Suite (Source)

Common user feedback trends

Based on analysis of user reviews on Capterra from collaboration app users from educational fields, here’s an overview of the areas of G Suite they like best and those that can be improved.

What users like

  • Easy to use, centralized suite: Many Capterra users say that G Suite is easy to use and in general, they find that having email, documents, spreadsheets, videoconferencing, and chat features all in one place is a plus.
  • Reasonable pricing for educational institutes: Some Capterra reviewers note that G Suite’s pricing for educational institutes is reasonable, and they particularly like the subsidies involved.

What users think could be improved

  • Improve customer support: Capterra users feel that only forum-based support with limited phone support can be improved upon for better product and customer interaction.
  • Upgrade functionality in Google Docs and Sheets: Several Capterra users say that Google Docs and Sheets offer limited functionality when compared to MS Office.
  • Internet dependency: Many users on Capterra feel that the internet dependency of G Suite limits their productivity, since they can’t work at all in offline mode.

Who should consider G Suite?

G Suite is suitable for organizations of all sizes, from growing startups to large enterprises, as it offers scalable pricing options and is widely regarded as simple to use.

Educational institutions with a need for collaboration and communication with international students can make the most of G Suite, since it offers document revision and management features and video calling and chatting features, helping you create a flexible online learning environment.

4. Slack: Robust communication features and ease of use

Slack is a cloud-based collaboration app that focuses on communication through public and private channels. Channels can be project, group, or topic specific to include the most relevant people in each conversation.

There are also shared channels, currently offered in a Beta version, to communicate with people outside the organization and reduce the volume of email threads used for collaboration.

Direct messaging, either one-on-one or with a group, is also available. Direct messages can be converted to channels, if a conversation evolves into a project. Or, start a voice or video call from a direct message with screen sharing on desktops or the Slack mobile app.

Slack’s intelligent search feature offers assistance by providing results from conversations, people, and files relevant to a specific query. It also prioritizes important messages by highlighting and recapping them. Users can save time by indexing documents to make them more searchable.

Slack offers an API on which you can build to meet your individual needs. It also integrates with several third-party apps, including SurveyMonkey (online survey tool), Motivosity (peer-to-peer recognition platform), Prezi (online presentation tool), and more.

Channel view in Slack

Channel view in Slack (Source)

Common user feedback trends

Based on analysis of user reviews on Capterra from collaboration app users in the education field, here’s an overview of the areas of Slack they like best and those that can be improved.

What users like

  • Pleasing design: Many Capterra users feel that Slack’s layout and interface is highly interactive and pleasing.
  • Robust integration capacity: Several Capterra reviewers give Slack positive reviews for its smooth integration with wide array of applications and its powerful API.
  • Ease of communication: Some users on Capterra review Slack favorably for its chat functionality. Other users also find that the channels in Slack lead to effective collaboration between users.

What users think could be improved

  • Improve message organization: Some Capterra users feel that messages get cluttered, which leads to information loss.
  • Enhance project management capabilities: Some Capterra reviewers find Slack to have limited project management capabilities with its primary focus on communication.
  • Upgrade the search function to include messages: A few Capterra users complain that Slack does not offer the ability to look for messages (conversations, updates, posts, and discussion threads) in history while applying search.

Who should consider Slack?

Slack is a good option for educational professionals and organizations of all sizes that are looking for a tool with a focus on team communication specifically, and do not have project management features as their priority.

It’s a good choice if the objective is to connect with students and peers for real-time discussions in a centralized space outside of classrooms.

5. Trello: Highly rated for ease of use and customer support

Trello is a cloud-based platform that offers features to help users organize projects through the use of virtual cards—each is used to represent a task—and boards—representing a project and made up of cards (i.e., tasks).

Create a new card for each item on your to-do list, add one or more person to a card, and edit cards. Educators can use cards and boards for lesson planning, using one card for each teaching module. You can attach documents to these cards, and comments, changes, and additions are all recorded. You can also add due dates, checklists, and other attachments.

Members of a board, or project, can assign cards to other participants. To keep remote participants or absentees in the loop, you can add notes to cards for future reference.

Trello integrates with apps such as Box (file synching), TimeCamp (automatic time tracking software), Skedda (venue booking), and more.

Boards in Trello

Boards with several lists made up of different cards in Trello

Common user feedback trends

Based on analysis of user reviews on Capterra from collaboration app users in the education field, here’s an overview of the areas of Trello they like best and those that can be improved.

What users like

  • User-friendly interface: Many users on Capterra feel that Trello is simple, easy to use, and has an intuitive interface.
  • Free accounts: Capterra users also like the fact that Trello offers unlimited free accounts to users.

What users think could be improved

  • Comprehensive text formatting: Some Capterra users feel that the online formatting of the text within cards and boards in Trello is a bit tedious.

Who should consider Trello?

Trello is suitable for educational professionals in small groups or teams, who are looking for an inexpensive collaboration tool with basic collaboration features to support task management, task tracking, and activity monitoring. It is beneficial in cases wherein students and teachers have to manage projects and assignments that are time-sensitive and require efforts from multiple parties. They can add the due date function and attach details to each card.

Next steps

Most collaboration software solutions, including the five featured here, offer free trials (typically ranging from 14 to 30 days) and product demos.

Product demos are guided tours from the vendor to help you understand how a product functions, while free trials let you test run the product for free for a time. You should leverage trials and demos as an opportunity to get hands-on experience and clarification about a product’s functionality before investing.

Compare even more collaboration software tools in our directory, where you can read more user reviews and filter products by rating, features, and more.


Methodology

The solutions highlighted in this article are the collaboration software systems that have the highest average overall user rating from education professionals at the time of writing. For this article, we evaluated 469 collaboration apps and a total of approximately 20,092 user reviews on Capterra’s website, exclusively from users in the education the industry.

Here’s an overview of our method for choosing this list of top-rated apps:

  • We analyzed reviews from users in retail industry and shortlisted those products that had 4+ out of five stars with a minimum of 20 user reviews.
  • From that list, we considered only those which are listed on Capterra.
  • The “common user feedback” sections include “what users like” and “user recommended improvements” for each product, based on feedback from users who left reviews.
  • The “who should consider this software” section is a summary of analysis conducted on the general comments from software users. This section highlights the most popular features of the software product and recommends who should consider buying that product and why.

Note: The content in this piece that provides opinions and points of view expressed by users does not represent the views of Capterra.

Looking for School Administration software? Check out Capterra's list of the best School Administration software solutions.

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These apps really beneficial for educational professionals. Thank you for sharing such amazing apps.

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