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Collaboration Tools

There are a variety of collaboration tools that you and your students can use before, during, or after a class session that will facilitate communication and collaboration between students in the classroom and online. The tools listed below are all either free or available to UTK faculty and students at no additional cost.  For advice on which tool would be best to meet the collaboration needs of both you and your students, contact the OIT HelpDesk to ask for a one-on-one consultation.

NOTE: Due to audio feedback from additional devices connected to Zoom in rooms where the instructor is communicating with both in-class and online students simultaneously (i.e., additional laptops or phones other than the instructor’s primary Zoom-connected device), we recommend that students use chat-based communication and collaboration tools rather than audio- or video-based tools.

Collaboration ToolDescriptionCapabilitiesRestrictions / Options
Zoom In-Meeting ChatRegular Zoom meeting chat window that can be displayed and used by all session participants by selecting “Chat” at the bottom of a live Zoom session screen.Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Web
Organization: Whole-class chat
Integration: With live Zoom sessions
If it is desirable to save the breakout room chat records, a designated student in each breakout room must save the record prior to closing the breakout room.
Zoom Chat MessagingThe instant messaging Zoom chat function available at all times from within the Zoom desktop application.Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Web
Organization: Create a channel for each group and invite students to it.
Integrated with Zoom.
Can be used for cross-campus & cross-UT System collaboration.
Can share files and URLs.
To use this tool, students must each create a LiveOnline@UT (Zoom) account at
Must sign in using SSO and must use NetID with suffix.
Students must add instructor to their groups if instructor wishes to view their chat.
Canvas ChatChat feature within Canvas that can be used within a course to communicate and collaborate.Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, WebCanvas Chat is whole-course-based. Cannot divide into groups.
Canvas GroupsGroups can be created in a course by the Instructor or by students to share files and work collaboratively.Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Web
Organization: Create and participate in “Discussions” or “Collaborations” within a group. Share files.
Integrated with Google Docs and Microsoft 365.
Create shared documents in a group via “Collaborations” which defaults to using Google Docs for this purpose.
Students can access their groups by selecting the “Groups” icon on the grey navigation menu underneath the Power T in Canvas.
MS TeamsMS Teams is an app to help you collaborate, share files, and communicate in a single area with a select group of people. Includes a chat-based workspace that’s part of your Office 365 account.Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Web.
Organization: Create a team for your class, channels for groups, threads for conversations.
Integrated with MS Office suite to collaborate on documents, calendar appointments, and notes.
Video and audio calls.
Microsoft 365Microsoft 365 for Education provides staff, faculty, and students with email, online document editing and storage, access to the Microsoft Web Apps, and Office 365 ProPlus which includes Microsoft Office for Windows and Mac at no additional cost.Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Web
Provides access to OneDrive and the MS Office Suite of apps including OneNote, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel which, when used with Microsoft 365, can be edited by multiple individuals at one time.
Also provides access to 365 Groups, Delve, Sway, and Planner.
Google Drive and Google AppsGoogle Drive provides a single place to store files that can then be accessed from anywhere. Share individual files or whole folders. Access the Google Suite of apps from anywhere, anytime.Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Web
Provides access to storage on Google Drive and the Google Suite of apps including Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides that can be edited collaboratively at the same time.