Overview of telecollaboration tools and affordances

In TILA we have chosen to work with user-friendly and safe tools that allow pupils to engage in intercultural communication. On the one hand we propose asynchronous tools (discussion forum, wiki), on the other we propose synchronous tools (text chat, videocommunication, 3D virtual world). Almost all of them are accessible through our learning environment, the Moodle platform.

Each tool offers its own advantages and challenges. For a quick overview of the affordances of each tool, see below, or click in the alphabet above. For more specific information about each tool, please refer to the different submenus of the ‘Telecollaboration Tasks and Tools’ section on the website.

Currently sorted By last update ascending Sort chronologically: By last update change to descending | By creation date

Video conferencing


  • Big Bluebutton
  • Google Hangout
  • Skype


  • Multipoint video/audio conference
  • Multiple users can share their webcam at the same time.
  • No built-in limit on the number of simultaneously active webcams.
  • Public and private written chat
  • Document sharing (PDF or Office documents)
  • Desktop Sharing
  • Whiteboard
  • Recording (slides + audio + chat) for later playback

Useful for

  • Communication between two or more people
  • Document sharing => collaboration and talking about the content of documents



  • Moodle chat
  • Chat integrated in the 3D virtual environment OpenSim
  • Chat in the video conferencing software BigBlueButton


  • Real time written interaction

Usefull for
Short written interaction (eg.for clarification)


A forum is basically a bulletin board, a means for asynchronous communication with a group of users.


  • Moodle Forum


  • asynchronous written online discussion
  • messages are posted and archived
  • many users can react to a posts
  • attachments
  • insertion of pictures
  • insertion of links

Usefull for

  • Written communication on a certain topic that takes place over a period of time
  • Exchange information and opinions within a group
  • Ask questions and ask for help
  • Teacher networking: teachers can use a forum that is invisible to pupils to discuss problems and exchange ideas and experiences


  • Delay in time => set deadlines to ensure smooth communication flow)
  • Requires specific tasks and instructions to ensure interaction (i.e. that students react to each others’ posts: appreciate what was said in a post, add own comment, and maybe ask a new question)


Demo video about forum in Moodle


Tools (and links to websites)


  • Consist of posts of text or information  
  • Posts can be archived and sorted
  • Possible to embed pictures and multimedia
  • Comment option for readers to add comments

Useful for

  • Sharing ideas, pictures, videos  
  • Responding with comments


  • Not very interactive
  • Delay in Time


Demo vidoe of a Moodle blog




  • Freely expandable collection of interlinked webpages
  • Every participant can write and edit text, create weblinks or embed pictures
  • A ‘history’ function allows tracking all the editing steps

Useful for

  • Writing tasks where students collaboratively work on a specific topic, story or problem
  • Creating a multimedia collage (text, pictures, captions, embedded video or music files)
  • Track and document steps for a group project
  • Students collaboratively write a wiki with individual students responsible for separate parts (peer writing and editing)
  • Help and guidance: teachers can write comments in their students’ wiki


  • A Moodle wiki can only be edited by one person at the time. When someone from your group is using the edit mode of the wiki, you will get a corresponding message, when you click on Edit.
  • Delay in time => set deadlines


 Watch the following demo video about wikis in Moodle



Moodle is a one-stop shop learning platform offering a variety of social networking features:

  • Discussion Forums, Wikis, Blogs, and Chat
  • It also offers the option to integrate the video conferencing tool BigBlueButton

In addition, teachers can

  • upload files, or create links to external websites
  • display schedule
  • make announcements
  • … and much more


Alternative social educational platform:

see "Edmodo", "Mahara"


Mahara is a combination of an ePortfolio and a social networking system. Students can create blogs, upload files, embed resources from the web and collaborate with other users in groups.

Mahara provides a comprehensive blogging tool, a social networking facility where users can create and maintain a list of Friends, a Resumé Builder allowing users to create digital CVs. Users can share information through a variety of optional profile information fields.

Go to the following Mahara website to watch a demo and learn more about the different features Mahara provides.

Mahara demo video and description of its features

Interface with Moodle - Mahara also provides a single-sign on capability that allows users to be automatically logged in to both their Mahara and Moodle accounts.


This is what you can do with Maraha (these are screenshots from the Mahara website  www.demo.mahara.org):



 Mahara user manual


„Edmodo is regarded as a social networking site for teachers and students. It provides a free and secure social learning space for a class to connect and collaborate. Teachers and students can post messages, discuss topics, assign and grade class work, and share digital content such as links, pictures, videos, documents and presentations.” (Edmodo Review “Social Networking for Schools”, http://edjudo.com/edmodo-review-social-networking-for-teachers-and-students.html)


  • Edmodo is free to use and contains no advertising
  • It provides a secure learning environment protected by built-in privacy controls
  • Teachers can post messages for their students and students can post to the group
  • Teachers and students can share content and materials including web links and videos
  • Post classroom assignments encourage discussions and track progress online
  • Teachers can also grade assignments online providing convenient feedback
  • Enables teachers to network with other teachers to share ideas and resources
  • It has a calendar feature which helps track assignments and events
  • Users can connect via mobile smart phones and be updated with the latest posts

Edmodo Website: www.edmodo.com


Demo videos:

Scoop it

Scoop it allows you/your students to publish a newspaper/magazine, with content from the web and including own postings, pictures, films... Followers may comment the postings.


3D Virtual Worlds



  • Interactive simulated 3D environment
  • Accessed by multiple users through online interface
  • Users, represented by avatars, can interact and communicate (audio and written chat), they can move
  • Ideal for experiential and action learning
  • They offer varied scenario's: shops, restaurants, parks, musea, cinema, railway station...

Usefull for

  • Communication between two or more people
  • Role play in different dedicated scenarios