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Collaboration Tools

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Collaboration is a key part of all types of work. Whether you are working on a project for class or with a team at your workplace, you will often find yourself collaborating with groups of people. And, new technologies are always making it easier to continue this collaboration when you are no longer in the same city, state or even country. This guide will help you identify some tools both here at Harvard and online that can help you to collaborate more effectively. Note: If you hope to use these tools for work on client matters, please be sure to evaluate whether they provide the necessary privacy protections.

Collaborate Image by Johnny Goldstein

Image by johnny goldstein. CC BY 2.0

Organize Your Project

Manage the Project

Managing complex projects and large teams can be difficult, but these project management tools will help to keep your whole group on target and on time.

  • Trello is a popular option for project management. It is designed to be both collaborative and flexible so that it can be used to support groups working on a range of types of projects. All members of the team will see updates from any individual in real-time, which make it perfect for decentralized groups. And, it has apps for Android, iOS and Windows devices, which makes it easy to use on the go. There are both free and business versions, but the free version should be sufficient for many basic projects.
  • Basecamp is another project management alternative that is well-suited for groups working on multiple complex projects. It focuses on bringing all aspects of each project together on a single page, including both discussion points and files. Though it doesn't offer a free option, it does offer a 60-day free trial so that you can decide whether it is right for your group before paying. The smallest plan supports up to 10 projects.
  • Zoho Projects is another project management option. It integrates with Google apps, Dropbox and Zoho's other collaborative tools. Zoho Projects is designed to keep groups on track with feeds for each project and alerts regarding deadlines. It has available wiki, forum and chat features so that you can customize it for how your group works best and it has related Android and iOS apps so that you can continue working on the go.
  • Asana aims to replace email for teamwork. If you find that you spend to much time reading, writing, and sending emails as you try to coordinate your group projects, Asana can help you to eliminate this problem. Asana's free option allows for teams of up to 15 people with unlimited projects and tasks, making it perfect for small groups. Larger groups or those who need premium features can choose from five other subscription options.

Schedule Meetings

Anyone who has every tried to schedule a meeting via email knows that this can lead to an endless round of conflicts and suggestions. These tools help you streamline this process.

Edit Documents Together

Collaborative Document Editing

When working on a project as a group, it is often helpful to be able to simultaneously edit a document. These tools make that possible for various types of documents.

Google Docs Logo
Google Docs is perhaps the most popular option for simultaneous editing of documents. It can be used for documents, slides, spreadsheets or forms and it has a lot of nice features to make the process of simultaneously editing files nicer, such as chat, the ability to comment on documents and a notification of who is viewing a document at any given time. Files can be sorted into individual folders as well to keep your project organized at all time. Best of all, you can easily sign up for an account if you already have a Google account. Want more training on how to use Google Docs? Check out this training module.
Zoho

Zoho Productivity Apps are another great option for free, collaborative document creation. They are in many ways similar to Google Docs, offering tools to create and edit documents, spreadsheets and slides and the company also offers a wide variety of other online tools that are designed for businesses or other organizations, so it is easy to contain your group's entire workflow in one place with the Zoho suite of products.

Etherpad logo

Etherpad is a nice alternative if you are interested in finding an open source online text editor that still allows simultaneous edits. Available for Mac, Linux and PC.

TitanPad

TitanPad is another alternative that is similar to Etherpad. Teams can set up private subdomains for free and it also boasts infinite undos, whcih can be nice if you need to revert to a previous version. If you don't need to keep you work private, you can create a public pad without the need to register.

Looking for other types of documents?

These tools will help you to collaborate on other types of documents and projects.

Share Files & Links

Share Files

Even if you don't want to be able to simultaneously edit documents, you may want to share documents and other files with all of the members of your group. The services listed below will help you to keep your groups' files organized and available at all times.

Dropbox

One great option for sharing documents is Dropbox, which lets you invite people to share folders with you or send a link to any of your folders. Shared folders allow all users to add their own content to the folder and to create subfolders to keep everything organized. Dropbox is a secure service that offers 2 GB of free space to each user.

Box

Another alternative is Box, which offers similar online sharing options to facilitate group collaboration. It offers the option to share folders with permissions to view, edit or upload documents and also includes commenting features to help you have a discussion via Box. The free plan offers 5 GB of storage.

TeamDrive

If you are concerned about security, TeamDrive is another alternative that encrypts files. It also offers several levels of access to shared folders, so that you can choose who has the ability to edit, add or delete files separately. A free account comes with 2 GB of storage space.

Dropmark Logo

Another extremely easy to use option is Dropmark. With this application, you can drag-and-drop content from your computer or even your browser into your Dropmark account and then share it with anyone - with no need for the recipient to sign up for Dropmark. As an added bonus, any collection in Dropmark can also be viewed as a presentation, eliminating the need for slides.

Zotero

If you are interested in sharing citations and sources instead of editable files, Zotero is a free citation management tool that makes it easy to collect your research materials in an organized fashion, share them with collaborators or other scholars, and generate bibliographies (it is even possible to generate Bluebook citations, though you should always check any citations generated via Zotero). Unlike the other tools above, Zotero must be installed on your computer. Versions are available for Mac, Windows and Linux.

Share & Organize Links

If you just want to share links or keep a list of online sources organized, many services focus on allowing you to create annotated lists of links that you can share publicly or with specific individuals.

Meet Online

Skype

Skype Logo   Best for 5 to 10 participants.

Skype is one of the best known online video conferencing tool and this status is well-deserved. It is user-friendly and many people have probably used it in the past. To use it, you have to download it onto your computer or device. While most calls are free, the price for international calls varies and at least one person on the call will have to have a premium account to use the video conferencing features. There is also a monthly usage limit for video conferencing, though most users are unlikely to hit that limit. Skype also offers apps for most mobile devices, so it is a great option if some members of the team will be on the go.

Vyew

Vyew   Maximum of 10 participants

Vyew is a great option if you want to be able to collaborate both synchronously and asynchronously. It offers video conferencing for up to 10 participants, screensharing, and a persistent whiteboard for ongoing collaboration online. Best of all, the space is saved so members of the group can return to it anytime to make changes as they are working and all activity will be tracked in an activity log. It works for PC, Mac and Linux users, but doesn't offer a specific mobile option. Vyew is free, but because of this it has ads integrated into it.

MashMe.TV

MashMe.TV     Up to 10 participants

MashMe.TV is another alternative that allows users to meet online while simultaneously working on Google Docs and other files. It also offers a whiteboard and simultaneous playing of videos. The site is currently in beta and will remain free throughout the beta process.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangout    Up to 10 participants

Google+ Hangouts provides free, online video conferencing for Google+ users. Each video conference can accomodate up to 10 active participants, but with Hangouts On Air it is possible to broadcast the video to additional participants. Hangouts On Air can also be saved to a YouTube account as they are being recorded. If your group is also using Google Drive to collaborate on documents, it is easy to edit the documents during the Hangout.  And, Google Hangouts now offer a screensharing option too so that you can see exactly what your collaborators see on their screen. Apps are available to allow you to use Hangouts on mobile devices.

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting  Up to 25 participants

For groups or organizations that need to be able to accomodate more active participants, GoToMeeting can be used by up to 25 simultaneous users, though this comes at the price of a $49 per month subscription. Features include screensharing, collaborative document editing, and recording the entire meeting. Organizers must be using a PC or Mac, but participants can be on an iOS or Android device. Users considering this option can try a free trial for 30 days to decide if GoToMeeting will work for their needs.

MeetingBurner

MeetingBurner Logo     Maximum of 10 participants

MeetingBurner is a good option if some members of the group will be calling in via telephone. It supports screensharing, chatting and attendance via iOS or Android device as well, but its standout feature is the ability to have a mix of online and telephone participants. Free accounts have a maximum of ten participants.

Meet On Campus

Reserve a Room in the Library

Did you know that the library offers several spaces that can be reserved for group work? These spaces have tables and some even have wipeboards for note taking. You can reserve any of these spaces by asking at the Circulation Desk by the main entrance of the library.

Group Study Room - Langdell 327

Reserve a Room in WCC

Students can also reserve space in the WCC for group work. To reserve a room, visit the Harvard Law School Room Scheduling System.

WCC

Find Your Zone

Did you know that the library has different zones? Even if you don't want to reserve room a for your group, you can find an area of the library intended for group work and quiet conversation.

Quiet Zones

Areas for quiet reading and study. Please keep noise to a minimum and take conversations to other zones.

•Caspersen and Root Rooms
•ILS stacks
•Langdell stacks and carrels
•Reading Room

Collaboration Zones 

Areas for working in groups or talking quietly with others.

Note: Please take cell phone calls to cell phone zones--the others you talk or work with must be in the room!

•2nd floor Lemann Lounge
•3rd floor group study rooms
•4th floor Reference Room

Cell Phone Zones

The only areas where talking on cell phones is permitted. Please keep ringers on silent.

•2nd floor Lemann Lounge
•4th floor computer labs, copy rooms, and bridge to ILS stacks

Food Zone

The only area where food and snacks are allowed. Covered drinks are permitted throughout the library.

•2nd floor Lemann Lounge

Harvard innovation lab

Working on a bigger project? Perhaps founding a start-up? Or undertaking some other innovative venture? Consider whether the Harvard innovation lab might be right for you!

Get Help

Chat with us

 

Let us help!

DON'T WASTE TIMEASK. 

The librarians are here to help whether you are working alone or on a group project. 

Ask a Librarian by entering your question at http://asklib.law.harvard.edu/index.php.

Chat with Us by entering your question in the chat box on the left.

Email the Reference Services Department at research@law.harvard.edu with questions.

Request an Instaclass for your group on your specific topic by filling out the Instaclass Request Form.

Set up a Consultation by filling out a Research Appointment Request Form.

Visit the Langdell Reference Desk located on the fourth-floor of the Law Library.

Call the Reference Desk at 617.495.4516.

Contact Me!

Carli Spina