Web 2.0 tools are being integrated into education and learning in recent years. Open source, cloud-based tools are an essential part of my collaborative writing efforts and learning. A common use for cloud-based applications in the recent years is for collaborative writing. This allows individuals from varied disciplines, institutions, and locations to collaborate on research projects and provides an improved solution over the use of one document, tracking changes, and emailing back and forth (Schöch, 2014). Educators gain new ideas and inspiration as they connect with other educators (Crane, 2012). Cloud tools are emerging and improving at a rapid pace with new features to benefit all collaborators. I have experimented with five or more cloud-based collaborative tools in the past few years on various research projects. Each tool has varied options and features. While I have not found the perfect, all-encompassing tool for collaborative writing, I have found each tool to be effective compared to the alternative. According to Schöch (2014) there is not one available technological solution that meets all of the following needs within one package: real-time collaborative writing, flexible word-level commenting, footnote support, version control, access rights management, publishing options and open-source availability of the tool.
My experience with the use of social media in learning is limited. I have used Twitter and Facebook on a limited basis for personal and connected group use. In the past few weeks, I have started using Twitter as part of my coursework. The proficiency and comfort of Twitter was holding me back from understanding the purpose of the integration. As I become more familiar with it, I am seeing some benefit in the area of networking and collaborating. Sharing resources and connecting with other students through Twitter allows students to get to know each other, collaborate, and learn in an informal manner (Wakefield, Warren & Alsobrook, 2011). The use of social media tools for collaborative learning is increasing and while it is most common to utilize one tool at a time, some advocate for an integrated social learning environment (Popescu, 2012). This is accomplished through an LMS, personal learning network, and various additional platforms. I like the combination approach, which requires students to branch out with new Web 2.0 tools, yet allows them to develop with tools they are most comfortable with. Web 2.0 tools allow students the opportunity to learn outside the online classroom and build communities (Popescu, 2012; Mendoza, 2009). This is an area of research I will continue to follow and potentially attempt integrating into my online classrooms.
Crane, B. (2012). Using web 2.0 and social networking tools in the K-12 classroom. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
Mendoza, S. (2009). The trinity of community: Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Proceedings of World Conference on E-learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare and Higher Education.
Popescu, E. (2012). Providing collaborative learning support with social media in an integrated environment. World Wide Web, 17(2), 199-212.
Schöch, C. (2104). The right tool for the job: Five collaborative writing tools for academics. Retrieved from: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/04/04/five-collaborative-writing-tools-for-academics/#author
Wakefield, J.S., Warren, S.J., & Alsobrook, M. (2011). Learning and teaching as communicative actions: A mixed-methods twitter study. Knowledge Management & E-Learning: An International Journal, 3(4), 563-584.