Education Students' Use of Collaborative Writing Tools in Collectively Reflective Essay Papers
Journal of Information Technology Education
Google Docs and EtherPad are Web 2.0 tools providing opportunity for multiple users to work online on the same document consecutively or simultaneously. Over the last few years a number of research papers on the use of these collaborative tools in a teaching and learning environment have been published. This work builds on that of Brodahl, Hadjerrouit, and Hansen (2011) expanding its case study. The theoretical framework is the same as the one underlying Brodahl et al. (2011) , drawing on two
... arning theories, the social-constructivist learning theory and the community of practice, and their relationships to collaborative tools. The literature review is extended to cover the recent research work in the field, related to Web 2.0 technologies in higher education. Education Students' Use of Collaborative Writing Tools keeping track when editing simultaneously, and failure to produce a unified document. Positive issues frequently mentioned are the ability to work asynchronously and from different places. Furthermore, a majority of the reports on commenting on and editing each other's work were positive, mentioning that it is an advantage to be able to correct spelling errors and bad formulations, that it is educational, that one may contribute with ideas that the others do not have, and that it improves the final text. Larger issues on the negative side were fear of insulting or misunderstanding, and difficulties because of various work modes. Also qualitative results indicate that females are more concerned with group size than males, but less preoccupied with technical difficulties. Furthermore, younger students appear more concerned about the importance of preparation and planning than older ones. The major conclusions are that EtherPad and Google Docs facilitate new ways of approaching communication, for different collaborative writing work modes as well as in different settings. However, the setting in which the tool is used exerts an influence on the way students perceive its usefulness. Recommendations derived from students' perception of factors of success for using the collaborative writing tool include the following: group size should preferably not exceed three persons; the students ought to be prepared for technical difficulties and have a contingency plan; and they should have time in advance to discuss their work mode and agree on rules for commenting on and editing each other's work.