The suitableness of Google Documents as a student collaborative writing tool

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Vens, Todd
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Ann Thompson
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Curriculum and Instruction

Collaborative writing appears to be an academic exercise whose relevance will only continue to rise, especially with the ever-increasing arrival of newer technology easily appropriated for educational uses. Often this new technology is commercially produced or open source, free, incredibly intuitive to use, and most important, created for the express purpose of facilitating collaborative writing. It is important to understand if these new technologies, commonly referred to as collaborative writing environments, offer a common-sense, low-to-no-cost means for institutions of higher learning to address the challenge of teaching collaborative writing skills to students. This qualitative research study analyzed one of these new tools, Google Documents, to determine its suitability as a collaborative writing environment for students. Google Documents was the object of inquiry because of its recent adoption campus-wide for all students to use at Iowa State. A dual approach to investigate Google Documents was conducted to determine its suitability as a collaborative writing environment for students. A set of criteria, which I coined The Essential Collaborative Writing Toolkit, for evaluating collaborative writing environments was drawn from the research literature. I was then able to measure Google Documents against these criteria in order to see if it adequately met the specifications needed for a successful collaborative writing environment. Students were also interviewed to discover their experiences using Google Documents. A transcript analysis of these interviews was then made. My findings suggest that Google Documents, with little exception, is an appropriate collaborative writing environment for students. I came to this determination following the synthesis of two things: the results of seeing how well Google Documents met the standards of The Essential Collaborative Writing Toolkit, and students' impressions of Google Documents taken from the transcript analyses.

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Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2010