Although collaborative writing projects can present challenges in terms of communication, work flow, and organization, there are several technology tools available that can help increase productivity and the overall success of the project. Kathleen P. King, Professor and Program Director of Higher Education & Policy Studies at the University of Central Florida, Orlando discussed this topic in her 2016 TAA conference presentation, “Leveraging Online Learning Technology & Environments to Benefit Research Group Writing”.
King’s first piece of advice is to consider the person in the group that has the hardest time adjusting to new technology and choose a tool that will fit their comfort level. This may mean that you use a more familiar option such as Skype or Google docs to aid in your collaborations, rather than some of the more advanced options. In group collaborations, the project’s success is dependent on all group members feeling comfortable with the technology tools used.
Secondly, King suggests clearly articulating the needs of all group members and then selecting technology tools that will meet those needs. Consider which strategies have worked for group members in the past and then find the tools that will help build on those strategies.
Once you’ve identified the academic needs and the level of complexity that your entire group will embrace, you can begin shopping for tools, such as:
Learning Management Systems (LMS): Blackboard, Moodle, eCampus, and Canvas are platforms that can help you build a support network with collaborators, pool all the resources you’re working with, document your process to prove your level of authorship if needed, and alert group members to updates.
Padlet: A versatile space where collaborators can add comments, images, and videos, brainstorm ideas, and develop content.
81 Dash: A private chat room for discussions and file sharing that offers an enduring URL that groups members can visit.
Participoll: A poll creator that can be integrated into a PowerPoint presentation. This is especially helpful when large groups make decisions to guide their research and writing.
Diigo: A space for sharing and archiving research that offers the options of outlining, bookmarking, highlighting, and leaving virtual sticky notes on articles you’re reading to share with others. This tool is especially useful for assigning reading to group members, sharing thoughts on articles, and creating a group coding system.
These tools can help you stay on top of your collaborative writing and research projects in order to meet your publishing goals. For more information and additional helpful ideas you can listen to King’s entire presentation here.