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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab

Using collaboration tools


When your group has decided how to keep in touch, it’s time to consider how you will work together from separate locations.

In recent years, online collaboration tools and platforms have become the preferred method of group work in many educational and professional settings. Understanding the basics of using these online tools to share, edit, and save documents will be extremely useful to your future working life and make group assignments easier and more efficient.

What is an online collaboration platform?

Examples: Microsoft 365 and Google Drive

An online collaboration platform is a digital workspace, which allows people to collaborate no matter where they are. Online platforms often include cloud storage and office applications, and sometimes chat, email, and online forums.

What is a co-authoring tool?

Examples: Microsoft Word and Google Docs Co-authoring tools allow multiple people to work on the same file at the same time.

Co-authoring files can be stored in the cloud and shared with other people so that real-time reviewing and editing can take place, like it would in an office or classroom. These tools generally include features such as autosave, comments, track changes, user tagging, version history, and notifications.

Key terms

Local file
A digital file stored on your personal computer.

Cloud file
A digital file stored on internet servers (the cloud) rather than on your computer, which can be kept private or shared with others.

Collaborative authoring (working on a document together at the same time).

Real-time editing
Working together on a document at the same time rather than working individually and sending updates.

Icons: Happy Art/


Collaboration steps

By following these three steps, you will be able to set your group up for online collaboration success.

Step 1: Decide as a group which collaboration platform and tools you are going to use.

Step 2: Create your online collaboration space.

Step 3: Start creating, sharing, and co-authoring your work as a group.