Introduction to Collaborative Digital Writing & Text Analysis Apps, and Managing Online

Title:    Introduction to Collaborative Digital Writing & Text Analysis Apps, and Managing Online Learning & Assessment: Edmodo, Google Classroom, and e-Rubrics.

Date: 16 November 2020           Time: 1.00 – 4.00 p.m.

Conductors: Mr. Rab Paterson & Mr. Daniel Ferreira

The Strategy and Academic Development Section under the OAA organized its 6th workshop for the academic year of 2020-2021 entitled ‘An Intro to Collaborative Digital Writing & Text Analysis Apps, and Managing Online Learning & Assessment: Edmodo, Google Classroom, and e-Rubrics’. The aims of the workshop were to introduce web-based collaborative writing and text analysis tools, and to explore the applicability of using online learning and assessment platforms to manage course and classroom.

An Introduction to Collaborative Digital Writing and Text Analysis Apps

Collaborative or team writing is the process of producing a writing work as a group where every group member contributes to certain parts. It can even be a written work where the collaboration is formulated in the form of influence, inspiration, etc., or through discussion, comment or editing. Thus, the range of collaboration can help to know the level of involvement of group members and the direction of the content and group itself. The use of collaborative writing has been advocated in both academic and professional fields. It helps student to understand writing as public act and develop a sense of audience with whom they’re communicating, especially in peer review sessions. Students can practice analyzing writing and learn about their peers’ prose as well as their own. A group writing also offer students a glimpse into a world of working where features such as critical thinking, inquiry, mutual interaction, conflict management, and team player are considered important.

 Given that in 21st century, several online platforms are created to integrate technology into classroom and academic projects have become more and more complex. With online collaborative writers can work together and gain control over content accessibility. Thereby restricting the access to only people who need to see the content at specific part of the workflow. This communal environment helps maximize a team’s collaborative spirit and stress each member’s strength to yield better outcomes.

In this session, Mr. Paterson shared how he conducts online collaborative writing class with high school students in Japan. His writing class runs on Google Docs platform which not only promotes collaboration, but also allows students to store their work in the cloud which can be accessed without time and place restrictions. Then, students will be grouped according to their subject interest and this group later becomes their peer review and editor team. Next, students must go through the questions assigned by the instructor to narrow down the topic suggested. The instructor also asks the students to conform their ideas to the 5A’s which include:

  • Academic – Topic must be a university type subject and paper
  • Arguable – It must have a controversy you’re trying to settle/ question you’re trying to answer
  • Accessible – Research data/materials/ sources must be available in English
  • Achievable – Argument must be able to convincingly made within the time and length allowed
  • Attractive – Paper should be interesting to other readers not just writers

When done properly, the title of the topic can be formed well. The students then start writing drafts and for each draft each group is responsible for making their own deadline. The members will in turn submit their writing and give peer feedback.

Students must have their paper analyzed using the online tools such as Lextutor, Analyzemywriting, Wordcounter, etc. Their basic services are meant to make sure that writers aren’t overusing certain words which can make the writing repetitive and boring. Moreover, some sites offer even more intricate functions like matching the used word with Academic Wordlist (AWL) to help analyzing vocabulary level of students’ essay, measuring the readability of text using different matrixes like Gunning fox, Flesch-kincaid, Smog, Coleman-Lieu, and Automated, and vice versa. The score received help students identify the strengths and drawbacks of their work, and develop better academic writing. The recommended score for university paper should be around 10 – 15%. The AWL score can exceed 15% if it’s a scientific related paper. However, the notion is that hard writing has to be readable, and while aiming for a high AWL score, the content may be too hard for a reader to even start an introduction. These tools should be used carefully, as they may ask to store the uploaded paper; which can later lead to student privacy and intellectual property issues.

Managing online learning & assessment

Edmodo is learning management platform (LMS) that combines the advantages of social network with the classroom contents. When a teacher creates a group in Edmodo, a code to join the group will be distributed to students to sign up. Their features include discussion, learning communities, parent involvement, and assessment. One main feature of Edmodo is the ability to post and respond in real time. It builds up a sense of community and belonging, and a space where students can learn, communicate, and contribute freely and confidently. In addition, Edmodo allows users to share a wide range of resources such as documents, images, website, embedded clips from YouTube, and files. While students can communicate with their peers only on the page wall which means the conversation is viewable and therefore must be appropriate, the teachers are able to give immediate personalized feedback to student through direct message function. Moreover, as the platform allows teacher to create quizzes, tests, assignments, assessments and analyze whether students reached the learning outcomes, it’s more flexible for the teachers to make changes in the learning programs to match with stakeholders’ needs.

Google Classroom is a free web service for schools that aims to simplify creating an online classroom area, and providing a teacher/student-friendly way of communicating and managing needed documents especially in terms of creating, distributing, and grading assignments. It allows users to use services like Google Drive, Google Docs, Forms and other services in G Suite to create and store documents. Lecturers can also post announcements and upcoming assignments which will be emailed to all students in the class.

As the use of educational technology-integrated tools has been recognized in school worldwide, there has been more support for going completely online. Still, with the idea of teaching and learning, integrating the new digital tools shouldn’t give more burden to teachers nor students, but rather the flexibility and opportunities to choose what’s best for them.