Teaching Commons > Teaching Guides > Technology > More Technology Tools > Collaborative Tools

Collaborative Tools

What are they?

The web applications described allow for multi-user, simultaneous editing capabilities. These cloud-based applications allow for sharing completed documents or documents in progress, as well as the ability for multiple users to comment or share edits. 

Woman collaborating with laptop
Use Cases

Peer Review

Each of these systems includes forms of document editing, including the ability for students or instructors to add comments or line edits to a document draft. This allows students to view and share their work with one another and to insert comments or track changes to offer their feedback and critique of a draft document for an assignment.

Group Work and Collaborative Editing

Multiple students or instructors can access and edit the documents in real-time, allowing groups to share their work in progress without the need to email multiple drafts to one another. This also allows users to work with one “live” document instead of having multiple versions from each user. This version control also ensures that all collaborators are working from the latest draft of the document and avoids the need to reconcile multiple version edits.

Embedded Documents

Cloud-based storage allows users to generate an “embed code” that will display the document on a website or digital portfolio. Common uses are to share a document within D2L or Digication. Edits made to the original document will automatically update to any embedded versions of that document, allowing for seamless single editing to documents that appear on multiple pages or sites.

Fieldwork/Remote File Access

Multiple users can gather artifacts (images, documents, sound clips, videos, etc.) and share them with other users through a shared folder. These files will be available through a password protected website that allows users to access the files from any internet enabled device.

Popular Tools: Pros and Cons

Note: The following applications are not supported by DePaul University. If you encounter a problem, please contact the vendor for technical support. This information is accurate as of June 2016.

Google Drive

Pro Con
Up to 15 GB space, free Requires use of a Google account
Mobile, web, and desktop versions Requires downloading free app to edit on mobile devices (e.g., Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc.)
Automatically saves edits  

Get Google Drive


Pro Con
First 2GB free for all users Smallest amount of free storage compared to other tools featured here; if you refer friends you can earn up to 16GB free storage
Mobile, web, and desktop versions Requires downloading separate free app to edit on mobile devices
Editing interfaces mirror familiar word processing apps, such as Microsoft Office  
File version history  

Get Dropbox

Microsoft OneDrive/Office 365

Pro Con
Mobile, web and desktop versions Requires downloading a separate free app to edit on mobile devices (Microsoft Office Mobile Apps)
Office 365 users receive 1TB free (all DePaul students are eligible for a free Office 365 account); free accounts for non-students offer 5GB free  
Editing interfaces mirror familiar Microsoft Office products  
Automatically saves edits  

Office 365 for Students More on OneDrive


Pro Con
10GB free Limited to 250mb per file
Mobile, web, and desktop versions Requires downloading a separate free app to edit on mobile devices
Automatically saves edits  
Editing interfaces uses Microsoft Office Online, which mirrors other Office products  

Get Box