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Collaborative Writing Practices for Cooperative Learning

Anders, Abram. “Collaborative Writing Practices for Cooperative Learning.” National Forum on Improving Undergraduate Education Through Active Learning Spaces. Minneapolis, MN. August 2011.

Real-time collaborative writing platforms are an exciting, new technological opportunity available for undergraduate education. Whether using Google Docs, Etherpad, or host of other applications, students can now write together in real-time with embedded chat, versioning histories, and instructor oversight. Collaborative writing not only adds interest, excitement, and novelty to writing practice, but also addresses a wide range of challenges for effective composition, communications, and writing instruction.

Collaborative writing helps students overcome first person, single author inertia at the planning, revision, and editing stages of composition. Real-time collaborative invention allows individual learners to experience a wide range of approaches, styles, and strategies for achieving the goals of each assignment. As a tool for revision, collaborative writing helps students gain the ability to view their own writing from a third person perspective. When applied to editing, collaborative writing takes advantage of open source efficiency for discovering and fixing “bugs” or errors. Beyond these practical or tactical strengths, collaborative writing exercises contribute to more cooperative, active, and student-centered learning in general.

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