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Technology and Collaboration I: “Writing as One Mind: Adventures in Web Based Collaboration”

by Bronson Lemer

Dan Weinstein offered not handouts during his presentation on web-based collaboration, but live examples in the form of two students from his computer-supported collaborative writing course. Weinstein, Adam Bruns and Sara Miska explored different ways people can work together to collaboratively produce a piece of writing from research during their presentation “Writing as One Mind: Adventures in Web Based Collaboration.”

Weinstein first stated that writers in any collaborative project must have a defined set of values and practices that encourage the “best of what we hope will happen when they get together to work toward a solution to a problem.” He argued that participants must be comfortable with each other and should work hard to get to know one another in order to both establish roles within the project and to better understand what other participants say during it.

Secondly, Weinstein argued the collaborative group should have a shared goal and mutual respect for each other. Weinstein stated that collaborators need to be given a platform in which they are able to talk, which allows participants to feel part of the collaborative project and recognizes the “value of the participant’s contributions.” Finally, any participant of a collaborative project should be tolerant of opposing viewpoints and be committed to reviewing and responding to material within the project, Weinstein stated.

In order to complete the collaborative project, Weinstein’s class used a variety of tools, including Wordpress blogs to reflect and comment on the collaborative project and create summaries of collaborative sources along with CMap Tools to create maps out of their lists as well as compare connect ideas. When drafting the final project, students used an iJot program, which allowed them to collaboratively piece together their essay, and an editing program called MoonEdit, which allowed students to comment on each other’s information at the same time collaboratively and simultaneously editing a document. In the end, Weinstein stated that students working on a collaborative project liked synchronous activities. He argued that students found value in those times when students could “work together under loose constraints, under fuzzy paths, to a common goal.”

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