The below provides guidance on some of the main collaborative activities that can be used in online Learning.


A blog is a personal online journal that is frequently updated and shared with other learners who can comment on each other’s blogs.

Pedagogical benefits: Blogging can help learners prepare for written assignments by enabling them to take incremental steps towards expressing opinions and challenging others’ viewpoints (Keegan, 2009). Blogs also facilitate peer interaction and help encourage social learning (Hew, 2016).

Possible apps: Blackboard can be used.

Bulletin boards:

Online interactive canvases which allow learners to share and view text, videos and images.

Pedagogical benefits: Online bulletin boards can encourage peer interaction which helps encourage knowledge sharing and construction (Hew, 2016). They can allow learners to share open-ended answers to questions, disseminate knowledge searching activity (e.g. locating relevant information and posting results of literature search) and facilitate brainstorming activities.

Possible apps: Padlet is probably the most widely used of the online bulletin boards. There is no limit to the number of learners that can post at the same time.

Concept/mind maps:

A concept /mind map is a diagram illustrating suggested relationships between concepts. Concept maps are used to visually organise, structure and represent conceptual knowledge (Novak, 2010).

Pedagogical benefits: Concept/mind maps can be used collaboratively to encourage peer learning and help students structure their ideas and knowledge of particular topics. They can also be used to encourage creative thinking and synthesis of topics.

Possible apps: Padlet can be used to set up mindmaps (using ‘canvas’ structure). There is no limit to the number of learners that can post at the same time.

Discussion boards:

Online discussions allow students to build a sense of community and replicate the discussions that take place in the traditional face-to-face setting.

Pedagogical benefits: Discussion boards are used to facilitate knowledge sharing and exchange, brainstorming, group critiques and peer collaboration (Chang, 2016; Hew 2016).

Possible apps: Blackboard can be used.


Wikis allow learners to contribute to and modify one or more pages of course-related materials and provide a means of sharing and collaboration. Learners can create and edit pages quickly, and track changes and additions, which allows for effective collaboration between multiple writers.

Pedagogical benefits: Wikis can help build a community of collaboration and learning. Wikis facilitate peer interaction and support and can help build a learning community as well as allowing the dynamic exchange of information (Keegan, 2009).

Possible apps: Blackboard can be used.

Word clouds:

Word clouds are used to visually represent text data, with the importance of each word shown with font size or colour.

Pedagogical benefits: Word clouds can be used to allow learners to answer questions (e.g. what are you looking forward to in the course?), to allow students to summarise themes in reading or discussions; and to support formative assessment (Miley and Read, 2011).

Possible apps: mentimeter can be used.

Further Reading:

Chang, V. (2016). Review and discussion: E-learning for academia and industry. International Journal of Information Management, 36(3), 476-485.

Hancock, C., & Rowland, B. (2017). Online and out of synch: Using discussion roles in online asynchronous discussions. Cogent Education, 4(1), 1368613.

Hew, K. F. (2016). Promoting engagement in online courses: What strategies can we learn from three highly rated MOOCS. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(2), 320-341.

Keegan, H. (2009). Preparing learners for a digital world. Effective practice in a Digital Age. JISC.

Miley, F., & Read, A. (2011). Using word clouds to develop proactive learners. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 91-110.

Novak, J.D. (2010) Learning, creating, and using knowledge: Concept maps as facilitative tools in schools and corporations. Routledge.