Why Collaborative Writing?

Group writing assignments have traditionally been confined to a word processing program where one group member would attempt to record all of the group’s ideas into one coherent product. However, having your students write collaboratively online allows them to share ideas in real time, peer edit, contribute to the writing process from any computer with internet access and they can share their live edits with you with a unique web address for their paper. Online, collaborative writing is an outstanding platform for a group writing assignment because it allows all group members to participate in the writing process. Whether students are working in a computer lab or from a computer in their home, the writing process is extended beyond the classroom with online, collaborative writing. Along with group writing assignments, with online collaborative writing, your students can share their work in real time and you now have the ability to read, critique, leave feedback and comments directly in their paper during the writing process.

Some of the key advantage of online, collaborative writing include:

  • Live, real time feedback.
  • Editable & accessible from any computer with an internet connection.
  • Specific word processing programs are not necessary, allowing students without specific programs to access their work in multiple locations.
  • Student work can be easily published and shared online.
  • Revision history of writing and progress is easily accessible and viewable by both the student and teacher
  • Accessibility: Online documents can be shared as viewable or editable

Collaborative Writing Tools

There are a number of platforms available to students and educators to begin writing collaboratively online. Some online collaborative writing platforms allow students to quickly create an online writing space without an account or login (Piratepad, Typewith.me, iEtherpad & Sync.in). The platforms that do not require a sign in allow students and teachers to quickly and easily create online platforms. In order to access their document in the future, students must record the unique URL that is created for their document. With this unique URL, students can work on their document on one computer, close the internet browser and open up their document in a different location by simply entering the same URL into an internet browser.

Google Docs offers a more robust collaborative writing platform. Google Docs provides a permanent workspace and inbox, where students can keep their documents, organize, rename, share, publish and embed their work online. Google docs requires an account in order to login their documents from any computer. However, by using google docs, students do not have to remember a specific URL for each document, as each document is stored in their Google Docs account.

Collaborative Writing Platforms:

Examples of Online Collaborative Writing in the Classroom

  • The Great Immigration Debate is a Google Docs lesson designed to help students study a topic related to patterns in immigration history, while gathering and analyzing data using primary source materials.

Collaborative Writing Tutorials

EdTechTeacher has created several video tutorials on Google Docs, the collaborative writing tool that they suggest most often.

Google Docs 101 Tutorial

Google Docs Advance Tutorial

How to Integrate Collaborative Writing

Collaborative Writing can be integrated in history classes in a variety of ways.

  • Students create collaborative book reports.
  • Students and teacher collaborate on building a list of research sources.
  • Students build vocabulary lists and definitions of historical terms.
  • Publish handouts and presentations online.

Be sure to check out our Research and Writing page on EdTechTeacher.org or find Apps for Writing for any device.