Thursday, 23 April 2009

Farewell to wikis and all that? Part 2

Another really exciting application, collaboratively speaking, is Etherpad. This is gorgeous. All it is, is a simple application, similar to notepad, which you can share online with others. So it’s similar in concept to Google documents except that the changes made to the document happen really fast and appear before you. What’s really interesting is that you can have several users making changes to the same document with different users adding content in different parts of the document, (e.g. user A works at the top and user B works at the base etc.). Each user is colour coded so that you can see who’s doing what.

This is very similar in notion to collaborative editing as reported by Educause, (Web Link). You could imagine a scenario where 3 students are working on the same document with each assigned to a particular role. For example note taking during a lecture. Student A might type down content as it is being spoken, student B might tidy up the text as it is being typed by student A and Student C might insert comments / links to other class material. You can copy and paste from within the document but also from Word as well. So for instance Student D might take thing s further by pasting in existing content from Word for the other students to rationalise into the document. So students could take on specific roles: scribe, researcher, formatter etc.

Have a look at the video below. Myself Ian Glover and Jon Urwin quickly put this together. Basically we’re creating a list of capital cities and their associated landmarks. My text is coloured green, Ian is red and Jon purple. The video shows simultaneous addition and modification of items including cutting and pasting. Enjoy.

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