Communicate and collaborate online

Aims and objectives

This module will:

  • explore the advantages and disadvantages of different methods of online communication
  • examine tools for communicating and collaborating online.

After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • communicate effectively, respectfully and safely in interactive online environments
  • evaluate and select different tools for communicating and collaborating online.

4. Collaboration tools

There are many great online tools that can help you collaborate on assignments and projects. Check the privacy settings of any tool that you use so that you limit the availability of your data. Try to lock access so that only your group can see any activity.

A particular tool may not suit all members of your group due to accessibility issues or other concerns. Work together to choose a tool that everyone can use.


Use your UQ email for any collaboration you do as part of your university course.

Messaging and discussions

Some tools have extra features for group messaging, that tools like Messenger or Whatsapp don't have.

Set up messaging or discussions for your group

Tool Discussion threads for organised conversations Free account available App for use on mobile devices File sharing File storage Other useful features Limitations Help and tutorials
Slack Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Secure; integrates with Google Drive and many other apps; searchable message archives; configure notifications

  Intro to Slack
Facebook group Yes Yes Yes Yes No   Must edit settings to keep it private Facebook group features
Google Groups Yes Yes Yes Yes Available on Google Drive


Users must have a Google account to set up and join Google Groups Get started with Google Groups
WeChat Yes Yes Yes (iOS and Android) Yes Yes The WeChat Chatterbox blog outlines prducts and features   WeChat Help Center

Discussion tools used on Learn.UQ (Blackboard)

These tools may be used in your Learn.UQ (Blackboard) courses:

Tool Discussion threads for organised conversations App for use on mobile devices File sharing Other useful features Limitations Tutorials
Piazza Yes Yes Yes Poll tool Only instructors can set up a Piazza discussion Getting started
Discussion Boards Yes No No   Only instructors can set up group discussions Using the discussion board
ePortfolio collaborative workspace Yes No Yes (has a Check a File Out/In feature)

Secure; To-do list

Can't work on documents at the same time Create a Workspace

Online meetings and video conferencing

Tool Upgraded account available via UQ Free account available App for mobile devices File sharing Screen sharing Whiteboard tools Group messaging Limitations Tutorials
Zoom Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes   How to install and use Zoom
Skype No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Meet with up to 10 members with free version How to use Skype (YouTube, 4m19s)
Google Hangouts No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Meet with up to 15 members with free version Get started with Hangouts

Collaborative documents

Tool Upgraded account available via UQ Free account available Limitations Simultaneous editing Version control File storage Export function Tutorials
Google Drive - Docs, Sheets, Slides etc No Yes   Yes Yes Yes Yes Get started with Google Drive
Office 365 - Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc Yes No You need a free personal Microsoft account to get OneDrive (for cloud storage). OneDrive is NOT included in Office 365 for UQ students. Yes Yes Yes (on One Drive) Yes Office Help & Training
Overleaf Yes Yes   Yes Yes It is not a cloud storage system but you can upload multiple files. Yes How do I use Overleaf?

See the working with files module for other cloud storage options.

Other useful online tools for collaborating

Tool Purpose Upgraded account available via UQ Free account available Useful features Tutorials

Organise your project tasks

No Yes Upload files, link to Google Drive, create checklists Getting started with Trello
Padlet Share ideas and information Yes Yes Post comments, upload files (video, music, images etc), embed content, attach links Using Padlet
Tricider For easy group decision making No Yes, don't need to register to use it Ask a question, ask others to submit their ideas and then vote on responses. Takes away the need for back and forth discussion via messaging or meeting up. Can be anonymous Online voting and decision making demo (YouTube, 1m27s) For argument mapping No (open source) Yes Create, edit, share, and export argument maps. Register to save maps and share the link with your group Getting started with Brainstorming and mindmapping No Yes Can share link and export as an image Video tutorials

Duration:   Approximately 30 minutes

Graduate attributes

Knowledge and skills you can gain to contribute to your Graduate attributes:

Effective communication Effective communication

 Critical judgement

 Ethical and social understanding

Check your knowledge

Check what you know about this topic:

Take the quiz

Support at UQ

Access UQ services to assist you with personal or study-related issues.

Related modules: