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

ToolDiscussion threads for organised conversationsFree account availableApp for use on mobile devicesFile sharingFile storageOther useful featuresLimitationsHelp and tutorials

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

 Intro to Slack
Facebook groupYesYesYesYesNo Must edit settings to keep it privateFacebook group features
Google GroupsYesYesYesYesAvailable on Google Drive


Users must have a Google account to set up and join Google GroupsGet started with Google Groups
WeChatYesYesYes (iOS and Android)YesYesThe 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:

ToolDiscussion threads for organised conversationsApp for use on mobile devicesFile sharingOther useful featuresLimitationsTutorials
PiazzaYesYesYesPoll toolOnly instructors can set up a Piazza discussionGetting started
Discussion BoardsYesNoNo Only instructors can set up group discussionsUsing the discussion board
ePortfolio collaborative workspaceYesNoYes (has a Check a File Out/In feature)

Secure; To-do list

Can't work on documents at the same timeCreate a Workspace

Online meetings and video conferencing

ToolUpgraded account available via UQFree account availableApp for mobile devicesFile sharingScreen sharingWhiteboard toolsGroup messagingTutorials
ZoomYesYesYesYesYesYesYesHow to install and use Zoom
SkypeNoYesYesYesYesNoYesHow to use Skype (YouTube, 4m19s)
Google MeetNoYesYesYesYesNoYesGoogle Meet training and help

Collaborative documents

ToolUpgraded account available via UQFree account availableLimitationsSimultaneous editingVersion controlFile storageExport functionTutorials
Google Drive - Docs, Sheets, Slides etcNoYes YesYesYesYesGet started with Google Drive
Office 365 - Word, Excel, PowerPoint etcYesNoYou need a free personal Microsoft account to get OneDrive (for cloud storage). OneDrive is NOT included in Office 365 for UQ students.YesYesYes (on One Drive)YesOffice Help & Training
OverleafYesYes - student plan available YesYesIt is not a cloud storage system but you can upload multiple files.YesHow do I use Overleaf?

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

Other useful online tools for collaborating

ToolPurposeUpgraded account available via UQFree account availableUseful featuresTutorials

Organise your project tasks

NoYesUpload files, link to Google Drive, create checklistsGetting started with Trello
PadletShare ideas and informationYesYesPost comments, upload files (video, music, images etc), embed content, attach linksUsing Padlet
TriciderFor easy group decision makingNoYes, don't need to register to use itAsk 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 anonymousOnline voting and decision making demo (YouTube, 1m27s)
Reasons.ioFor argument mappingNo (open source)YesCreate, edit, share, and export argument maps. Register to save maps and share the link with your groupGetting started with
Bubbl.usBrainstorming and mindmappingNoYesCan share link and export as an imageVideo 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.