AIHA Internet Resources Digest
Supporting Access to High Quality Online Resources
Spotlight on: Online Collaboration Tools
In today's professional and learning environment, remote collaboration is a critical requirement: there is often a need to cooperate with a wide range of colleagues at a wider range of locations to successfully accomplish your professional goals. The web offers a range of useful and free tools to help you collaborate and communicate with colleagues, as well as collect and manage different data.
SurveyMonkey offers a popular online hosted survey tool that works well for basic surveys. The free version might be useful for small and informal surveys, but allows very little customization of the look of the survey, no downloads of reports or data, and can only collect 10 questions and 100 responses per survey. With 15 question types including rating scales, multiple choice, and more, it's easy to create online surveys from scratch. You can collect data via weblink, email, Facebook, or embed on your site or blog. The Select version ($25/month, or $225/ year) offers unlimited questions and responses, customizability, skip logic and the ability to export to Excel and PDF files. The package’s folder structure and “search by title” feature makes it easy to navigate through many surveys. Reports are minimal, but they allow you to export results to another application to do more serious analysis.
A powerful, free and open source survey package appropriate for non-profits looking for advanced survey logic and analysis features and who have substantial technology support. Its range of features includes full customization of survey look, support for 40 different languages, piping, skip logic, a library of available survey questions and blast emailing. The tool has a large support community and is under active development.
This open source package can be downloaded for free, installed on your own web server, and customized to your needs by a developer with knowledge of PHP/ MySQL. Be prepared to bear the costs for your own web hosting, and the time it takes to properly install, configure, customize and support this product on your own.
OpenMeetings is software used for presenting, online training, web conferencing, collaborative whiteboard drawing and document editing, and user desktop sharing. The product can be set up as an installed server product, or used as a hosted product. Open- Meetings implements the following features:
- Audio communication
- Video conferencing
- Meeting recording
- Screen sharing
- Collaborative document editing
- Chat and whiteboarding
- User and room management
It is an online meeting and webinar platform that runs online – you don’t need to download any client app for yourself or attendees.
Free version - for up to 200 attendees (with ads). Features:
- Audio communication
- Video conferencing
- Meeting recording
- Screen sharing
- Upload and Share Powerpoint and PDFs
- Live Polls & Q&A
When connecting with a few colleagues in remote places or with low bandwidth connections, the best collaboration technology can be Skype. It is a service and software application. The service allows users to communicate with peers by voice using a microphone, video by using a webcam, and instant messaging over the Internet.
Phone calls may be placed to recipients on the traditional telephone networks. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free of charge, while calls to landline telephones and mobile phones are charged via a debitbased user account system. Skype has also become popular for its additional features, including file transfer, and videoconferencing. Registered users of Skype are identified by a unique Skype Name, and may be listed in the Skype directory. Skype allows these registered users to communicate through both instant messaging and voice chat.
Voice chat allows telephone calls between pairs of users and conference calling. Skype's text chat client allows group chats, emoticons, storing chat history and editing of previous messages. Skype supports conference calls up to 25 people at a time. Skype also supports video chat and screen sharing between two people for free. Screen sharing and group video calling is available for Premium subscribers between a maximum of 10 people.
Managing files and data can be a difficult task; especially when multiple people at multiple institutions all require access and the ability to update and alter files.
Google Docs is a freeware web-based office suite offered by Google within its Google Drive service. The Google Docs include familiar office-type applications including a word processor, a spreadsheet tool, a slide show creator, and a tool for building forms. Documents created in Google Docs are compatible with other similar desktop based applications, such as Open Office, Microsoft Office, and iWorks, and files can be imported and exported from one to the other.
Documents can be shared, opened, and edited by multiple users simultaneously. Users cannot be notified of changes, but the application can notify users when a comment or discussion is made or replied to, facilitating collaboration. Also, the revision history included in the service allows users to see the additions made to a document, with each author distinguished by color, but the entire document must be manually searched to find these changes.
Collaborators all need a Google account to use Google Drive, but it does not need to be a Gmail account -- any email address can be registered with a Google account. Storage across all services provides 15GB of space to free users. Individual documents may not exceed 1 GB.
Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily.
Dropbox allows users to create a special folder on each of their computers, which Dropbox then synchronizes so that it appears to be the same folder (with the same contents) regardless of which computer is used to view it. Files placed in this folder also are accessible through a website and mobile phone applications.
Dropbox uses a freemium business model, where users are offered a free account with a set storage size and paid subscriptions for accounts with more capacity. The desktop client has no restriction on individual file size; files uploaded via the web site are limited to no more than 10 GB per file.
Redbooth (previously called Teambox) integrates social networking utilities into a project management dashboard. It is free for up to five users, then $5/month per user. It is suitable for small and medium companies engaged in simple projects. Main features:
- Status updates and conversations — Status updates are registered as projects' conversations. You can later organize conversations by giving them headlines. There are options to notify other project members via email and to attach files from one's computer or Google Docs.
- Task management – Tasks are organized into task lists under the projects. The task system is very closely related to the conversation system and conversations can be converted to tasks. Tasks' status can be changed when commenting it. There is time tracking, delegation and due date properties for tasks.
- Pages - wiki type documentation feature.
- Discussion forums
Wiggio is a free web application with a focus on group collaboration. The platform includes tools for group text messaging, a Wiggio group calendar and to-do list, an online poll taker, a space for uploading and sharing documents, and the ability to hold virtual video and audio conferences and chat rooms. You can literally start a group on Wiggio before you register on the site: you have to provide a group name, a password, and select how you want members to be notified, for example email or SMS. After you create a group, you will be prompted to register an account with the site.
Up to ten group members can participate in a video conference at one time. Wiggio users can also download a free iPhone app that contains nearly all the tools of the site’s online application, including the ability to create groups, schedule meetings and conduct polls, and send email blasts.
Overview of user-friendly online collaboration technologies
The Cochrane Collaboration Web Team has assembled an Overview of user-friendly online collaboration tools. Most of the services suggested in this Guide are offered for free.
- Resources for Paramedics
Social Bookmarking. Internet Resources Digest, July 2013
Medical Wikipedias. Internet Resources Digest, June 2012
About the AIHA Internet Resources Digest
The Internet Resources Digest — previously called the Health Resources Digest — is distributed free of charge as a service of the American International Health Alliance’s Knowledge Management Program thanks to the generous support of the American people through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The Knowledge Management Program is implemented through AIHA’s HIV/AIDS Twinning Center Program, which is funded through a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
The Internet Resources Digest is compiled by Irina Ibraghimova, PhD, Library and Information Management Specialist, HealthConnect International (healthconnect-intl.org). The contents are the responsibility of AIHA and do not necessarily reflect the views of PEPFAR, HRSA, or the United States Government.
If you have a suggestion for a Digest topic, or would like to contribute information about Internet resources, please contact ibra[at]zadar.net.
Back issues of the Internet Resources Digest for 2011-2014 are archived at www.healthconnect-intl.org/resources.html.
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