Using collaborative tools

Need some tools and software to help you organise and coordinate your project?

Think about using the following:


  • wikis are a great collaborative workspace
  • they allow lots of people to create and edit documents together using a simple interface
  • a log, or history of each amendment is made so you can see who has added or changed content
  • need security? you can keep your wiki private – only invited members can see it, and you can limit the editing rights of some members if you like
  • documents (PDFs, Word, Excel etc) can be attached to the wiki
  • media such as photos, RSS feeds, YouTube and Google videos and music can be added to the wiki
  • need to talk? most wikis have a discussion forum where you can share ideas or add comments

Want a wiki?

Your lecturers may ask you to use a wiki to create a piece of work – they will be able to advise on the software they expect you to use.
If you want a wiki right now then there are lots of free ones available online. We’d recommend Wetpaint and heard good things about PBwiki and Mediwiki.

Google Docs:

  • like a wiki Google docs allows people to collaborate on documents in a range of formats including Word, Excel and PowerPoint
  • create or load an existing document to Google docs and invite others in your group to edit and add to it
  • need security? you can specify who can see and edit your documents
  • store your documents online for easy access
  • folders allow you to organise your documents

Want to use Google Docs?

It’s free to join and signing up is easy. If you already have a Google account set up you’re ready to start.

Google Groups:

  • in Google groups you can create a group of your project members
  • need to talk? you can have discussions either online, or via email with others in your group
  • add content by creating web pages
  • upload documents for discussion

Want to set up a Google group?

It’s free to join and signing up is easy. If you already have a Google account set up you’re ready to start.


We already looked at delicious in section 3.1, but it’s a useful sharing tool:

  • delicious is like IE or Firefox bookmarks or favourites but with loads more features
  • create one account for your group which you can all use and start saving links to all kinds of online material; websites, PDFs, journal articles, videos etc. If it has a URL you can add it to delicious
  • you can organise, search for, and retrieve your links by using tags to describe the content
  • there is a note field for each link where you can add a longer description if you need to
  • delicious is designed to be public, but you can make your links private if you prefer
  • you can integrate delicious into your browser to make adding new links super easy (if you’re a FireFox user check out the add-ons for delicious)

Want a delicious account?

delicious is free and easy to set up and use. You can set up one account for your group and share the username and password. Or set up individual accounts and share your links by creating a delicious network.


RefShare is a feature of RefWorks

  • you can share references from your RefWorks library with your group
  • select the references you want to share and RefShare creates a unique URL to send to group members
  • need security? only those you email the URL to can see the references, and only people with a RefWorks account can use them
  • group members can download all or some of the references you’ve sent directly into their own RefWorks library
  • you can use folders and descriptor tags in RefWorks to organise your references

Want to use RefShare?

If you’ve set up your RefWorks account you can start using RefShare straight away. Contact your liaison librarian or principal library assistant for more help with RefWorks.

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