Online Writing Collaboration via Writeboard

As you may recall from my last post, I wrote about harnessing the interest in texting to exploit it as a tool in the classroom.

Today, I’m turning to an application called Writeboard.

For those who may not be familiar with it, Writeboard is an online word processor specifically designed for collaboration. A document can be created and then shared with a group of students who may make changes–deletions, insertions, and edits. Previous versions of the document can be recalled if necessary.

And the best part is that it’s completely FREE of charge.

I’ve had first-hand experience with this application. I had my middle school kids collaborate to demonstrate the importance of reading.

I divided each of my classes into six groups. I gave each group a portion of the alphabet. Group number one’s task was to brainstorm all of the things that we read that begin with the letters A, B, or C. Group two had D, E, F, and so forth.

We used Writeboard to compile each group’s list from all five of my classes into a master list. Eventually, that master list served as the source for generating a very nice-looking poster entitled Things That We Read that I displayed prominently in the classroom.

I imagine that it could be an alternative way of teaching writing, as well. You could write the introductory paragraph for any type of essay, complete with attention-getter and thesis statement and post it online. Then, challenge students to complete the essay.

Students would quickly learn the importance of a thesis statement as they collaborate to build the body paragraphs of the essay based on that statement.

Unlike a Word document that’s stored at your office on one computer, you and your studens can get to your writeboards from any computer in the world with an internet connection and a web browser.

Sharing writeboards is easy–simply give your students the URL and the password that you have selected to view and edit the Writeboard.

Every time students save an edit, a new version is created and linked in the sidebar. This allows students to write without fear of deleting something, overwriting something, or losing a better version of the document from what was written previously.

Writeboard encourages students to explore ideas wherever they may lead. Don’t like what they wrote? explain why to your students, then just click a previous version and you’re back to the way it was before.

If you ever want to know what changed between two versions of a Writeboard, it’s simple. Just check off two versions and click the compare button. Everything that was deleted will be gray and struck through, and everything that’s new will be highlighted in green.

Now, students can see and analyze what others have changed or added to their versions of the Writeboard.

I’m sure there are many other possibilities for using this application. What do you think?

Coming Tuesday:  Using Moodle to Extend the School Day.