Online College Courses for Credit

Collaborative Writing Tools

Collaborative Writing Tools

Author: Paula Dillon

1.  To review online, collaborative writing tools

2.  To learn the features of each

3.  To select the correct tools for the intended purpose

This tutorial will explore several online, collaborative writing tools to assist you in selecting the correct tool for your purpose.  Tools explored include Google Docs, MixedInk, Sync.In and TitanPad.  In addition, the tutorial will provide research and links to the benefits of peer editing and teacher coaching through the editing process.

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Reflections on Collaborative Writing Tools

Collaborative writing and creation tools are some of the most powerful tools that teachers can use with both students and colleagues.  About nine years ago, I began exploring collaborative writing tools to use with students who struggled with the recursive writing process. I knew that they would benefit from the coaching that I would be able to provide in real-time as well as from the ability to look back at the history of their edits and improvements.  This was especially true for reluctant writers who became easily overwhelmed by too much verbal direction and correction.  I knew that I wanted a tool that would allow me to coach the student as they were writing, as well as to provide digital comments when the student was done with the portion of the draft they were editing.  I also wanted a tool that would allow me to see the revision history and how much time a student was dedicating to their writing. Finally, I wanted a tool that would allow me to add a peer editor, while being able to tell the difference between the peer and the author.  After exploring the options, I found that Google Docs worked the best for my students and me.  

I continued to use Docs with my students, until I left the classroom to become an administrator six years ago.  In that time, I expanded the use to adding coaching to the writing process.  I posted paragraphs that required students to add description, edit using targeted grammatical constructs, and craft topic sentences or thesis statements.  In addition, I provided prompts with clear objectives and links to the associated rubrics.  Finally, I shared exemplar papers and models for students to reference.  Using formative assessment techniques, I made suggestions and pointed out areas of strengths and needed revisions within the paper.  My students grew as writers and I grew as an educator.

As I began to use the tools regularly with my students, I began to understand the value of using Docs as a professional.  I was placed in charge of the Commissioner's Review, which required me to gather information from departments across the school.  I quickly realized that through forms I could collect the information in survey format that filled directly into a spreadsheet.  I was also able to work on the draft responses from each area by sharing a document with the targeted stakeholders, allowing us to work individually on the same document when it fit our schedules, while seeing each others' revisions.  Let's just say that I became so adept at using Docs in the classroom and with my colleagues that my peers began each meeting by asking if I had created a "Doc for that."  I knew that for all the ribbing, they appreciated the ability to collaborate while saving time and remaining organized.  I continue to use Docs as an administrator, expanding my ability to efficiently and effectively collaborate with teachers, administrators, and community stakeholders.

I think this is one of the most important workshops that we will engage in this year as it embodies so many of our targets: coaching, formative assessment, collaboration, writing, and embedding technology into instruction.  I look forward to learning equally from you as you begin to incorporate collaborative tools into your instructional repertoire.  

Paula Dillon 2.3.13

Source: Paula Dillon 2.3.13

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Telling Tales Together: 4 Great Collaborative Writing Tools by Sara Bernard via Mindshift

Collaborative Writing Tools by Jason Jones via The Chronicle of Higher Education

Google Docs vs writeLaTex by Anthony Myers via CMS Wire

Some fine Collaborative Writing Tools by Eva Simkesyan via Edublog

Self and Peer Editing Checklist by Read Write Think

Encouraging Peer Editing by Mark Philipson via Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning

Peering into Peer Editing by Morgan Stubee via e-Vision Journal of First Year Writing

Annenberg Institute Workshop on Providing Feedback on Student Writing via Annenberg Media

Getting Started with Evernote via Evernote



Source: Sources Cited Above

7 Things You Need to Know About Collaborative Writing Tools

Overview of collaborative writing tools and their uses as reviewed by ETS at Penn State University.


Source: ETS Hot Teams: Penn State University

Google Docs Video Series

One in a series of 8 video tutorials ( that demonstrate how to use the Google Docs tools to create, collaborate, and share documents, presentations, spreadsheets, forms, and drawings.

Source: By Docs via Youtube

How to Create a Collaborative Google Doc

Step by step instructions on how to create a Google Doc and an overview of the functions.

Source: Paula Dillon using Google Docs via Screencast-o-Matic

Video Overview of TitanPad

A step by Step look at using TitanPad for collaborative editing and writing that does not require a student to have an email address.

Source: Paula Dillon using TitanPad via ScreenCast-o-Matic

MixedInk Demo

Video how to that explains Mixed Ink

Source: Mixed Ink via Vimeo - realtime document conferencing

Sync.In, collaborative writing and conferencing tool, video overview.

Source: By via Youtube

Evernote for the iPad

Video overview of Evernote for the iPad by EdTech Teacher.

Source: EdTech Teacher using Evernote via Vimeo