Easy Generator for Collaborative Learning Design

by Megan Dunphy, Veronica Jolley, Dan Sullivan


Easy Generator is interactive software that allows the users to build a course from scratch or pre-configured templates. Even using the pre-configured templates, the user can add content or rearrange content.

Easy Generator allows the content creator to create checklists, quiz and tests. It is an interactive application with a WYSIWYG interface that is made to be simple to use. No coding skills are required to use Easy Generator.

  • Launched in 2013
  • Easy Generator allows groups to collaborate on development via assigning Co-Authors that have all privileges the owner has except for adjusting the design theme or deleting the content. Only the owners can perform those functions.

Subject Areas

  • Any subject area
  • Can be used for university or workplace training
  • Can be used for checklists
    • i.e. inspections or consolidating notes

Education Level

  • Middle School age or higher
  • Links to videos or pictures with text can be added to the courses to allow them to be tailored to younger ages to be used to by educator


  • Easy to use
  • Pre-built templates, modifiable by drag and drop
  • Versatile software
  • No coding skills required
  • “All-In-One” content creator
  • Instructional tutorials
  • Courses can be set up to…
    • Allow multiple attempts
    • Alternate content location and questions
    • Give immediate feedback
    • Be used as a test template for tests and quiz
    • Include a timer
  • 24/7 live support
  • Content can be branded and saved as template
    • i.e. all content created in specific color scheme or to be branded with logo


  • Price
    • Pro version $99/month
    • Team version $495/month
    • Difference between Pro and Team related to number of allowed authors, learners, and courses
  • Not appropriate for younger learners

Collaboration Activity

  • Great form of collaborative summative assessment 
  • At the end of an instructional unit, teachers can assign students to groups and have them design their own course with learning items for reviewing key concepts and questions to test student knowledge  
  • Highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, Create
  • Students can comment directly within Easy Generator to communicate any changes or adjustments needed within the course or quiz questions
  • Once complete, students can share their courses with other groups to try

Learning Theory

  • Cognitive Perspective of Theoretical Perspectives on Cooperative Learning & Achievement
    • “…interaction among children around appropriate tasks increases their mastery of critical concepts” (Salvin, 1996, p. 48)
  • Constructivist
    • Meaning-making, knowledge creation, and possibly improves metacognition (de Lisi & Goldbeck, 1999)
  • Vygotsky
    • Supports peer learning and collaboration (Tudge & Hogan, 1999)

Video on how to create a branded template for your company, school or university:


de Lisi, R., & Golbeck, S. (1999). The implications of Piagetian theory for peer learning. In A.M. O’Donnell & A. King (Eds.), Cognitive perspectives on peer learning. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Slavin, R.E. (1996). Research on cooperative learning and achievement: What we know, what we need to know. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 21, 43-69. 

Tudge, J. R. H., & Hogan, D. M. (1999). Implications of Vygotsky’s Theory for Peer Learning. In A.M. O’Donnell & A. King (Eds.) Cognitive Perspectives on Peer Learning (pp. 39–65). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


by Babatunde Akinkuolie, Cornelius Doe, Athena Haas, and Mike Miller


Spiral is a multi-use interactive learning platform that teachers can use to create interactive learning experiences, for a quick assessment, student collaboration, live interactive video, flipped classroom activities pre-planned or on the go.

Spiral allows teachers to freely create learning activities that inspire the four C’s -creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking while promoting understanding and accountability.

  • Spiral was launched in 2016.

  • Spiral has grown to 750,000 registered teachers and students, in 11,000 schools in 64 countries.

  •  55% of our users are US-based.

  • Spiral’s platform promotes active student engagement.

  • teachers able to assess students at the time of learning.

  • individual work,

  • whole-class discussions, quizzes, polls, video-based learning, presentations and projects, group and team-work.

  • It provides the scaffolding for every student in the class to actively participate in every lesson (Active Learning)

  •  allows the teacher to assess what every student is doing and whether they have grasped the concept being taught (Formative Assessment).

  • Common Sense Education voted Spiral as the best Teacher Tool of 2017: “an engaging, easy to use tool that supports both formative and summative assessment, while allowing for student collaboration”.

Video overview: https://youtu.be/wzK7y_owETc

Collaborative aspects of the tool-Cornelius

Spiral has 5 different collaborative aspects- Quickfire/Quickfire lite, Clip, Team-Up, Discuss, and clip


  • Quickfire gets the whole class to answer fast-paced questions in class using their personal devices.

  • It is ideal for assessing students’ understanding at the start or end of the lesson.

  • Plan a prepared quiz as a teacher-led or as a student-led independent activity.

  • Choose a range of question formats from open, closed, MCQ, polls annotations, drawings, and audio response. Assess in real-time or asynchronously.

Link: https://youtu.be/18WJFY9R_o8

Quickfire lite: 

  • Ask a verbal question and instead of one hand going up the whole class can respond from any device.

  • Fast, Simple, and effective in getting a high-quality formative assessment in seconds.

Link: https://youtu.be/hWMDD6gETGA


  • Student teams can create and share collaborative presentations from linked devices in class and from home.

  • Student teams can ‘take over’ the whiteboard from their devices to present to the rest of the class for peer review.

Link: https://youtu.be/NcSaMBvro0Q


  • Discuss allows each student in the class to contribute their ideas to an interactive presentation that has been prepared by the teacher.

  • Teachers can import PowerPoint or pdf materials for live in-class discussion

Link: https://youtu.be/oKBgHoHr660



  • Turn any public video into a live chat with questions and quizzes.

  • Watch with the class as they answer each question or post.

  •  Review and grade as an assignment for the students to complete in their own time.

  • Turn video into an interactive activity

  • Students can collaborate through a live chat with questions and comments

Link: https://youtu.be/wtDKfu9HEns

Education Level

  • What education levels do you think this technology tool can be applied to?

  • Grades 3-12


Pros of using Spiral

  • All students, even reluctant speakers, are given a voice.
  • Free to use and easy to set up

  • No apps to install

  • Requires no integration with your school or organization LMS

  • Integration with any internet-connected device and bring-your-own-device(BYOD) environments

 Cons of using Spiral

  • Creating and assigning effective content can be confusing and requires some legwork
  • Privacy issue
  • Social interactions between users are not moderated.


  • Bottom Line: Engaging, easy-to-use tool that supports both formative and summative assessment while allowing for student collaboration

Subject areas where spiral might be used 

The app offers a variety of different interaction options and data display formats, making it adaptable to any subject.

In a college-level Educational Technology class: students are working on their own screens in the computer lab. Spiral Quickfire allows the instructor to ask questions to everyone on a regular basis that everyone will need to answer instead of the same 2 or 3 students responding. This allows for quick assessment of understanding so the instructor can adapt to content that needs to be covered. It shows anonymized answers on the whiteboard, but the instructor can identify the student publicly or privately if necessary. The instructor can give a checkmark or send the answer back for revision when needed.

Example Foreign languages: use the “Clip” feature to create listening activities from Youtube videos.

Collaboration Activity Examples: 

Foreign language Projects: such as creating a travel blog presentation for a city in France for French class. In Spanish, students can create a house for a Spanish-speaking celebrity, and make a Pictionary/dictionary of emotions and activities to say how they feel when they do certain activities.

Discuss mode is a way to collaborate anonymously. For example, Ed-tech class students responded to a pre-planned question, the instructor presses the “shuffle” button. The students receive anonymous responses from classmates and can respond. The instructor can shuffle again, the instructor can “star” responses to examine merits or just discuss in class orally.

This could be used in an English class for peer feedback, allowing responses to each other’s written ideas in a different way.

Social interaction is key to collaborative learning.

Quickfire Lite live class activity! This feature encourages participation from everyone and the activity can lead to deeper discussion on a specific topic.

Teacher perspective:

Student perspective:

Then press join the activity! Listen to the question.

The instructor asks the question and presses “Go”

The students type their answers and push the submit button.

Show live class and demonstration (Share whiteboard showing responses.

(Improve answer first) (After improvement then show star)

Verbal question: What Spiral function do you think you would use for your classroom?

Improve answers with why?

Relating to Computer-Supported Learning Theories

Spiral is a free suite of five apps (Quickfire Lite, Quickfire, Discuss, Team-Up, and Clip) that promote classroom engagement and collaboration. It makes much of what is already done in an educational setting so much easier and it is a must-have tool for face-to-face settings and distance learning.  Spiral is a computer-based system that requires no need to run or integrate through a learning management system. Teachers can invite student participation with a code or email link.

Since Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) is a pedagogical approach where learning takes place through social interaction using a computer or mobile device or through the internet, Spiral and its suite of five apps is a true example of this concept. This kind of learning is characterized by the sharing and construction of knowledge among participants using technology as their primary means of communication or as a common resource. CSCL can be implemented using Spiral online for distance/remote learning and in the classroom learning environments and can take place synchronously or asynchronously. Below are some examples of how Spiral supports CSCL.

Quickfire Lite lets the teacher ask verbal questions and get quick responses from students. You can use Quickfire to carry out a formative assessment to see what the whole class is thinking by providing a planned quiz with multiple format responses. Discuss can be used to create interactive presentations to spark collaboration in a class by turning a presentation into a discussion thread for the class to participate in. With Team Up, student teams can create and share collaborative presentations from linked devices by allowing students to work together on presentations.  Clip can be used to turn any public video into a live chat with questions and quizzes. Activities can be saved for use in a live class online or posted as assignments for students to do on their own.

Spiral is promoted as a tool for remote and distance learning but it actually works for that and a whole lot more and could be incorporated in a traditional classroom as well. It may actually replace a number of stand-alone tools that are used for similar purposes for facilitating brainstorming and general collaboration, allowing transparent sharing for feedback, collecting evidence of instructional, and promoting engagement and conversation.


References APA 7

Clip from Spiral. (2018, November 21). Clip from Spiral. YouTube. https://youtu.be/wtDKfu9HEns.

Discuss from Spiral. (2018, November 21). Discuss from Spiral. YouTube. https://youtu.be/oKBgHoHr660.

Teamup from Spiral. (2018, November 21). Teamup from Spiral. YouTube. https://youtu.be/NcSaMBvro0Q.

‌Quickfire Lite from Spiral. (2018, October 30). Quickfire Lite from Spiral. YouTube. https://youtu.be/hWMDD6gETGA.

‌Quickfire from Spiral. (2018, October 30). Quickfire from Spiral. YouTube. https://youtu.be/18WJFY9R_o8.

Spiral’s ideal for Distance Learning. (2020, April 10). Spiral’s ideal for Distance Learning. YouTube. https://youtu.be/wzK7y_owETc.

Clip from Spiral. (2018, November 21). Clip from Spiral. YouTube. https://youtu.be/wtDKfu9HEns.

Inc, D. E. (2021). Spiral – The fastest way to carry out formative assessments. Spiral.ac. https://spiral.ac.



Google Jamboard

by Jason Hazel, Jason Johns, Brandon Sutherland and Ross Tamburro


Jamboard is an online, interactive whiteboard system developed by Google that allows for both freeform and structured classroom collaboration. In education settings, it provides teachers and instructors the tools to engage with their students by using an array of activities, which can all be done in real-time.

Subject & education areas

The app can be utilized for almost any subject to employ student participation. Instructors can set up “templates” that serve as backgrounds for slides within Jamboard, which can them be edited over during real-time, collaboration periods. For example, here is a link to some classroom activity templates: https://ditchthattextbook.com/jamboard/

Additionally, Jamboard is designed to work with students in 8th grade and up.  The app currently has an age restriction of 13+ which limits its use in the K-12 setting.

Tool evaluation (pros & cons)


  • Its free!
  • Great for collaborating with teachers and other students
  • Works well for asynchronous and synchronous classrooms
  • Works well for multiple devices – computer, Tablet and phone
  • Students do not need to set up an account
  • Easy to insert images and text
  • Works well with GoogleMeet, GoogleClassroom and can be used with Zoom
  • Multiple people can work on a Jam at the same time


  • Limited to 13+
  • Currently no way to lock layers
  • You can erase and change other people’s content
  • Can be a mess with too many people

Collaboration activity incorporation

Jamboard is made for collaboration. It provides students and teachers the ability to connect in a virtual setting and collaborate all in real-time. Also, the app works well for multiple devices including computers, phones, and tablets. This enables students and teachers the ability to interact both synchronously and asynchronous.

Instructors and educational technologists have been able to create a variety of different templates to facilitate collaboration. Some examples of these activities include Mind Maps, flowcharts, pros and cons lists, voting and poll activities or games/icebreakers. These activities can be used in small breakout groups or for the entire class. Here’s some examples of how these might be set up:

Outside of the classroom, the app can also be used by groups as a project management tool. It provides us the option to monitor the groups progress and set expectations to complete the task. Regardless of the use, Jamboard also makes it easy to present in real time through GoogleMeet or Zoom, allowing for easy sharing and another label of collaboration.

Relevant theory

Jamboard is ostensibly just a blank canvas that any participant can add to. This allows students to create artifacts and organize thoughts in a tangible way that can be instantly shared with others in their group. This aligns with Kai Hakkarainen’s assertion that “knowledge creation activities, (are) “object-oriented” (Engestrom, 1987; KnorrCetina, 2001) meaning that collaboration is organized around long-term efforts to develop shared, tangible objects, such as articles, models, and practices.” (Hakkarainen et al., 2013).

Additionally, Jamboard includes an easy image search function, and in a video tutorial by the EdTech Show, the presenter explained that they witnessed their students using the image search to bring up a venn diagram to organize their groups thoughts. This happened organically and quickly, which allowed the students in this class to think about how they organize knowledge on their own and bring in an artifact to help calibrate the group’s knowledge. Because “Exercising options is metacognitive control.” (Winne, Hadwin, and Perry, 2013) the functionality to incorporate things that help regulate and align thought processes makes Jamboard a powerful collaboration tool.

Also, according to the same article: “Students coregulate learning by temporarily guiding, prompting, or assisting each other to accurately monitor and control cognitive work that contributes to the group product.”(Winne, Hadwin, and Perry, 2013). Since everything added to a Jamboard is in real time, students can highlight artifacts produced by other students and gain knowledge about their relevance. (this can be done with the laser pointer, or with sticky notes for example). This forces the group to exercise cognitive control and allows for additional discourse that further helps organize the group’s thoughts.

So Jamboard has a lot of potential, and can benefit from some prompting and organization from an instructor but is robust enough to allow learners to explore their own learning processes and create and exercise metacognitive controls. Again, it being a black slate, additional prompts from an instructor to guide regulatory conversations would be a huge benefit.


by Jessica Klotman, Barb Price, Courtney Gillespie Saslaw

Inspire creativity and teamwork with Canva for Education

      • 420,000+ templates
      • 75 million+ premium stock photos, videos and graphics free-to-use
      • 3,000+ fonts
      • Publish assignments and activities for your students
      • Access your content from Google Drive, Dropbox and Folders
      • Bring your designs to life with Bitmoji, Giphy and YouTube
      • Share your designs to Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams and Remind.

                Video overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLOjtyBdVlU&feature=emb_logo  

A brief introduction to the tool

      • “Canva is the only design platform your classroom will ever need. Pass on creative and collaborative skills that’ll last a lifetime with our intuitive drag-and-drop tool makes visual learning and communication easy and fun. Plus, it’s available for free to all K-12 teachers and their students.From brainstorms and worksheets to presentations and posters – your whole class can design anything, with any ingredient, together. As a go-to platform for project-based learning, you can create assignments that reflect the challenges your students will face in the real world. Canva is also optimized for Chromebook and fully functional cross-platform.” 
      • Canva is a free graphic design tool that can be used to create content for social media, marketing, business purposes, personal purposes and education.
      • You can create flyers, infographics, presentations, invitations, brochures, business cards, labels, logos, posters, youtube thumbnails, videos,  lesson plans, flashcards, worksheets.
      • Includes a page with video tutorials, so it is easy to use and you can teach yourself.
      • The templates provide a starting point for many projects or professional material creation. These can be used collaboratively by several group members or coworkers and edited at the same time while working on the same template or project

    • What subject areas do you think this technology tool can be applied to?
      • Canva could really be made to fit into any subject work or assignment, including professional material/project creation, especially if there is a need to collaborate while designing the material or working on a classroom assignment.
    • What education levels do you think this technology tool can be applied to?
      • Canva can be applied in a variety of settings including K-12, higher-education, business, and non-profit organizations. 
    • Your evaluation of the tools (e.g., pros & cons)
      • Pros: Free, flexible, collaborative, provides design expertise, includes a variety of templates, easy to learn and use, intuitive, customizable, easy to export and share, ability to import QR codes, gifs, videos, photos, images, icons
      • Cons: potential to be overwhelming due to the large number of templates, some features require a paid version, the options may be limiting for experienced designers.

Classroom examples of technology use 

    • How will the technology tool be incorporated into collaboration activities?
      • Team creation of content – We were able to use Canva to collaborate on our MLT flyer. It works very similar to Google Docs in that all group members can work on the project or assignment at the same time and contribute ideas in real time.
      • Water Crisis Project – Students in 8th grade worked collaboratively on an interdisciplinary project in which they researched a water crisis and presented their findings using an Infographic on Canva. They were able to choose from a variety of templates and select visuals and colors that supported their message. While the students did not have any graphic design training, Canva allowed them to highlight their findings in a visually appealing, effective manner. Students shared their Infographic with a panel of community experts, and they were proud to have such professional products to present.
    • Explain how the activity relates to the theory we learned
      • Constructivist: Supports meaning-making and knowledge creation
      • Vygotsky: Facilitates peer learning and collaboration
      • LCD model: We followed this model by collaborating synchronously to create design context, define design task and constraints, create conceptual and visual design ideas, evaluate design ideas and constraints, connect to expert culture and data collection, experiment and test design ideas, evaluate function of prototype, and elaborate on design ideas and re-design. 

Class for Zoom

by Lauren Bergman, Dave Hooker, Chris Summers

Class for Zoom is a set of classroom management tools that operate in conjunction with Zoom. The additional features include tools to take  attendance, collaboration tools, a system for submitting in class assignments, and polling. The product offers a consistent class layout, with easy visual cues for the instructor to see raised hands, teaching cues, and student focus. Other features include:

  • The instructor can select layouts to organize students by length of time for raised hand, speed of answer, talk time in class, or alphabetical order
  • The class can view shared content together while student remain visible, including videos, web pages, white board drawings, or Powerpoint slides. The instructor can also appear to teach in front of the Powerpoint slides
  • Quizzing and assignment submission is built into the tool
  • A proctor view is available, which shares the student’s camera view and desktop for the instructor during tests

Collaborative aspects of the tool

    • Shared, simultaneous video player controlled by the instructor
    • A shared web browser that is visible while maintaining the view of the students in the class and instructor
    • In-class feedback for peers and the instructor
    • Easy file sharing
    • Improved online learning environment
    • Better use in a blended learning environment

Subject areas where Class for Zoom might be used

    • Since Class for Zoom is a content delivery platform, the possible subject matter is unlimited

Education Level

    • The Class for Zoom interface is easy to use, and students from elementary school through adults can learn and collaborate using the platform

Pros of using Class for Zoom

    • A robust toolset designed specifically for online instruction
    • Indicators of student engagement are always available and in view of the instructor
    • Individual or whole class communication is available at all times
    • Content can be viewed simultaneously in class without losing students
    • Easy access to TA’s for help
    • Interface seems well designed and easy to use

Cons of using Class for Zoom

    • Paid license
    • Heavy on visuals, which can prohibit accessibility compliance
    • Interface could be difficult for instructors who are not tech savy
    • Similar geographic location is needed for synchronous collaboration
    • A new company in beta test phase

Collaboration activity: Historical Scavenger Hunt

    • Break students into groups to solve a series of puzzles relating to a historical event that they have just learned.
    • Utilizing the tools that Class for Zoom offers, an instructor can make each puzzle or stage a different feature of Class for Zoom
    • After each step, the teacher can stop into their group to give them access to the next stage, which could be a website, or video just for their viewing, or a file just for that group, to continue on the mission.
    • The teacher is also able to speak individually to groups to assist in roadblocks and give feedback along the way.

Relating to Computer-Supported Learning Theories

    • Encourages idea-centered discourse through the solving of multiple types of puzzles. Different facets of the overall mission may bring individual problem-solving skills to the surface for the group to discuss and execute (Webb, 2013).
    • Provides a framework for scaffolding to take place between instructor and group
    • Interactions promote a sense of community amongst students, which creates a safe environment for knowledge creation (van Aalst, 2009)


van Aalst, J. (2009). Distinguishing knowledge-sharing, knowledge-construction, and knowledge-creation discourses. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4(2), 259–287.

Webb, N.M. (2013). Information processing approaches to collaborative learning. In C.E. Hmelo-Silver, et al. (Eds.), The International Handbook of Collaborative Learning (pp. 19-40). New York: Routledge.


by Lauren Bergman, Dave Hooker, Chris Summers

Powtoon Logo

Powtoon software is used to create animated presentations, whiteboard tutorials, screen recordings, infographic videos, or face-to-camera videos. It allows collaborators to plan and create videos and visual content, plus manage and distribute the content from a single secure hub.

Collaborative aspects of the tool

    • Easy content creation features
    • Aligns teams with contextual information
    • Project materials are available in a single, secure visual workspace
    • Team members can work synchronously on their project
    • The Powtoon environment encourages critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration (Is there in space chat or a message board for communication while working?)
    • Online hosting allows for collaboration in a blended learning environment
    • Collaborators help each other learn through cooperative multimedia creation

Subject areas where Powtoon might be used

    • Since Powtoon is a content creation platform, the possible subject matter is unlimited

Education Level

    • The Powtoon interface is easy to use, and students from elementary school through adults can create content using the platform
    • Powtoon content can be designed for all education levels.

Pros of using Powtoon

    • Encourages creativity and content is more memorable and impactful
    • Easily collaborate and reuse templates again and again
    • Flexible to manage
    • Way to communicate that’s engaging and productive
    • Build an engaging culture
    • Easy to learn

Cons of using Powtoon

    • Paid license for full capabilities and access by students who are under 18
    • No feedback tool within the platform
    • Tools are not accessible (Can the output be captioned)
    • Cannot collaborate together at once (We say it allows synchronous collaboration in the collaborative heading above- clarify)
    • Internet is a necessity for use

Collaboration activity

Relating to Computer-Supported Learning Theories

    • The process of building a narrative in Powtoon allows for the promotion of communication through improved explanation-giving (van Aalst, 2009) through processes such as storyboarding, sequencing, and dissemination of information through both visual and auditory means.
    • Through the editing and narrative processes exists cognitive role specialization (Webb, 2013), where there is a summarization of materials (editor), as well as the role of clarification and error detection (writer/producer)
    • Collaborative aspects of the process of producing an animation with Powtoon allows for the collective processing of information (Webb, 2013).


van Aalst, J. (2009). Distinguishing knowledge-sharing, knowledge-construction, and knowledge-creation discourses. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4(2), 259–287.

Webb, N.M. (2013). Information processing approaches to collaborative learning. In C.E. Hmelo-Silver, et al. (Eds.), The International Handbook of Collaborative Learning (pp. 19-40). New York: Routledge.