Collaborative Writing

Web-based writing and development tools enable multiple authors to collaborate on short or long form writing. By writing collaboratively, students are challenged to develop and defend their ideas together. Students can play to their strengths by taking on roles within the group (e.g., project manager, copy editor, graphics designer) or to practice and apply a range of skills. Tools like wikis and collaborative word processors allow students to work together either synchronously or asynchronously to develop documents, reports, Web sites, or more. Some tools also track individuals' contributions over time, allowing teachers to clearly see who contributed what in a multi-author document. In many cases, students and teachers are able to add comments to texts and track changes for review. Documents are typically saved automatically every few seconds to ensure that documents are continually up to date. In the case of wikis, student work can be shared publicly or in a password protected format on the Web. For collaborative word processing documents, students can share their documents via email or export them for final editing in software applications like Microsoft Word.

There are many different wiki applications available online. At William & Mary, we have selected Wikispaces for its ease of use and template features for course projects. Another popular wiki service is PB Works (formerly PB Wiki). There is even a wiki tool in BlackBoard 9.

Google Docs is probably the most well known and widely used collaborative word processor. With it's recent addition of synchronous editing by up to 50 authors, Google Docs is incredibly powerful. Zoho Writer and WriteBoard are also worth a look.

Explore some of the examples below of wikis in the classroom:

Be sure to check out the William & Mary Guide to Collaborative Writing