We had a fantastic DWC Workshop, “Writing Collaboratively with Google Docs and Google Wave,” Friday, Feb. 5th. Amir Hassan, Gina Patterson, and Mandy Watts provided hands-on experience with online, collaborative writing using the affordances of Google.
Mandy and Gina introduced Google wave as a multi-user/multi-feature system, as an online collaboration tool that combines the features of e-mail, chat, wikis, and social networking sites, and as “a synchronous wiki with cool features.” Wave enables simultaneous, collaborative writing, responding, and editing in real-time. Users can engage in linear conversation, similar to the functions of chat, but they can also communicate across and within conversation(s). All users added to a wave can continually edit and add text, video, images, maps, and links from the web or from their computer within each individual wave. Users can create a message within a wave, a blip, located within one text box, and write collaboratively to create one cohesive document. Users also have the capability of chatting back and forth, separating sections of text, and even replying to threads much like in a discussion forum. When you open a new wave, you can then invite others to join. Gina and Mandy discussed the potential of using Google wave to conduct an actual class online, using documents, images, videos, all while conversation is happening. The user who opens the wave can track changes and edits; there is even a playback function that enables you to see what changes have been made across the wave history.
Amir introduced Google docs, a somewhat more contained space for online, collaborative writing. Amir defined Google docs as an easy to use online application that allows you to store, edit, publish, and share documents. It is compatible with Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx), Rich Text (.rtf), OpenDocument Text (.odt), StarOffice (.sxw), HTML files, and plain text (.txt) and functions with Microsoft PowerPoint presentations (.ppt, .pps) and Excel spreadsheets (.xls, .xlsx). Google docs enables multiple users to upload and share these document types and write together in real-time. It also functions as an online archive that houses documents, which makes document retrieval and sharing more accessible across users. Users can share a document and write, collaboratively, in real-time, or share a document and write at different times. Amir had ENG 111 students write a collaborative essay using Google docs and found that it enhanced student accountability because if students had to miss class due to illness or travel, they could still participate in and complete class activities using Google docs. I have used Google docs to collaboratively build an online Works Cited page.
Check out the handouts, and if you have any questions, or would like to discuss ways to integrate Google docs or wave into your writing classes, let me or Heidi (email@example.com) know.