It seems like new online services for collaborative writing are emerging all the time. After a series of postings about the powerful collaborative capabilities of the GitHub platform, used for writing code by programmers around the world, I suggested that this opens up the possibility for radical new ways to engage in academic scholarship and explore ways of forking the academy. For this to even stand a chance though, we need writing platforms that work better for our needs than the steep learning curve and some of the other limitations of Github. I offered my own list of suggestions about what that kind of platform might look like and in the next few weeks I’ll take a closer look at some of new options out there to consider. I begin with Draft, a new writing platform created by the extremely talented Nathan Kontny.
Draft is designed for drafting and collaborative writing of text. It is…
In my last posting, I imagined what it might look like to fork the academy, that is, to create a space within the world of academic writing and publishing where we could directly reuse, adapt, and expand each other’s work. I also discussed some of the most significant obstacles that stand in the way, both at the disciplinary level and the kinds of personal concerns I have seen raised from friends and colleagues I have discussed the idea with.
In an earlier posting I looked at some of the reasons why GitHub.com, which has led the way in making the practice of "forking" repositories of code and text possible, is not really an ideal environment for scholars to use for writing and collaboration. It works, but it has been developed more for building software, than for writing books, academic papers, syllabi, and other the genres of writing we engage in.
Many of us at ProfHacker have written about digital projects for classes that demand collaboration. I teach game design, so my students are often involved in projects that demand a range of skillsets and are modeled after an industry that is largely team-based. It is essential that my students develop their skills at collaboration and playing different roles on teams in demanding projects. However, as the end of the semester looms, a few teams always fall apart. A student drops out of the class or disappears; a student is ill and misses several supervised team development days; a student proves unable or unwilling to do the work or team dynamics go awry.
Here are a few of the policies I’ve been trying for handing these breakdowns in collaborative work:
Invisible teammates are ex-teammates. After a certain number of absences from essential days, or one unexcused absence from a…
We are hugefansofcollaborativewritinghereatProfHacker. I think there is still huge potential for growth in this area. When I sit next to a friend in a conference audience who has never collaboratively written anything in Google Docs and suggest we take notes together, or the same with a group of friends who are assembling ideas for a project, I have yet to be disappointed by the speed with which the advantages to the approach are understood and the practice adopted.
Though we have talked about a number of alternatives here, I still find GDocs to be the best. However, my continued dependence on Google Docs makes me uneasy. I would love for an easy to use, cross-platform, open source alternative to get widely adopted. The leading candidate is currently Etherpad lite. Both Etherpad and a number of similar kinds of collaborative editing environments have online homes you can go to…
From the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University comes this announcement of an event this afternoon from 1:30-3:00pm Eastern time, featuring ProfHacker’s own Adeline Koh:
Please join us for an event on MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) and play in education with Pete Rorabaugh (English, Georgia State University; @allistelling) and Jesse Stommel (English & Digital Humanities, Marylhurst University; @jessifer), editors of the journal Hybrid Pedagogy. Adeline Koh (Literature, Richard Stockton College & 2012-13 Humanities Writ Large Visiting Faculty Fellow) will moderate.
We’ll be livestreaming the event on the FHI Youtube channel, and everyone is encouraged to watch and take part via the Twitterstream: hashtag #dukehp.
Here at ProfHacker, we’ve written several posts over the years about cloud computing and collaboration. Most of our focus has been on GoogleDocs and collaborative authorship (see my “GoogleDocs and Collaboration in the Classroom,” for example).
Here at ProfHacker, we’re all about encouraging you to collaborate and share (200+ posts and counting!). Perhaps one of the best places to practice sharing is when you are working on a designing a new class and syllabus. No matter how many classes you’ve taught or how many ProfHacker posts on syllabi you’ve read it can be a bit daunting to start from scratch. Which is a great reason not to start from square one.
In a post for graduate students who are teaching for the first time, I suggested that first-time teachers should learn to embrace theft: recognizing that good teaching often comes from adapting or stealing outright someone’s great assignment, classroom activity, syllabus, or even lecture notes. This advice of course pertains to more than just first-time teachers. When you’re beginning to plan something new, you can always benefit from seeing what others before you have…
This past summer I wrote about staying connected with family using video chat software. This past year, however, I’ve been using video chats for another purpose: to collaborate with colleagues around the country on several inter-institutional projects. Though I rarely use it as a social network, I’ve actually found that the hangout features in Google+ are perfect for professional collaboration. The service is free, the video quality is good, and you can bring in up to ten video streams simultaneously; in Skype, by contrast, you have to pay for a premium account to have more than two simultaneous video streams in one chat. What’s more, in September Google added a number of features to Google+ hangouts that make them particularly compelling for academic collaboration.
The most powerful of these new features—for me at least—is the new Google Docs integration (for lots more on the…
The potential relationship between collaboration-based pedagogies and social/collaborative online platforms is almost proverbial. At the same time, anyone who’s ever tried to get first-year students to take peer review seriously knows that there is often real resistance to meaningful collaboration. Not insurmountable resistance–but it can be the case that students are uncomfortable sharing their work with their peers, or from a slightly different angle, have a hard time seeing how they would benefit from such sharing.
Today’s topic comes from ProfHacker reader Ben Filla, Distance Education Coordinator at Southern State Community College:
“At Southern State–in Hillsboro, Ohio–we’re kind of on the edge of Appalachia. Many of our students still have a dial-up connection to the Internet at home, if they have any connection at all. Online tools accessed from home are less important to their learning than technology in the classroom. That said, we’ve enjoyed using Wimba Pronto (W/P) for a couple of years now.
“W/P is a synchronous tool that allows for video, audio, and text chat. It also has a whiteboard feature that enables folks to scribble and draw on a virtual…
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