Collaborative Writing Spaces
Websites and software providing the service of collaborative writing spaces are a relatively new introduction to the field of E-learning. Some of the most notable examples include Google docs and “Shared documents” option on Microsoft Office Suite and Pages on Mac OS, a popular alternative is Wiki Spaces which takes a slightly different approach to online collaboration. A lot of these applications emerged in education when the need to collaborate with others became a priority in education, especially in language learning as more and more communicative approaches to learning started to be implemented by the teachers. Nowadays working on group projects without the collaborative writing spaces being the primary tool is difficult to imagine. However, some students still avoid such software as it does require at least minimal understanding of how it works.
Use of collaborative writing spaces is a must when it comes to my students. The most recent example would be my group of low-intermediate level learners aged 12-14. I split them into groups of 4 and assigned a presentation. They had to find a conspiracy theory of their interest and present it along with their interpretations of the subject as well as any other information relevant to the story. In more teacher-terms, they had to make a presentation and write a script that they would follow, in the end, send both documents to me. A hint for them was to use collaborative spaces such as Google docs and slides, in which case I would have the opportunity to follow their work, help them along the way and there would be no need for them to send me emails with documents attached (I highly discouraged this approach for the assignment, it creates a logistical mess in my email and computer, and it’s a pathway to madness for any teacher). All of the groups decided to use the collaborative writing spaces, most of them enjoyed the experience, some of them hated it as there seemed to be a quarrel of some sort through software during their collaboration, one of them said “It’s like power point, but with friends, just like we used to play Delta force alone, but then with internet we got Delta force with friends”.