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Tales of a Webtext with 10 Authors: Pedagogical Affordances of Digital Collaboration Tools

This digital pedagogy poster details how a graduate digital writing class capitalized on the affordances of particular digital tools, such as Slack, Google Drive, and Wordpress, during the collaborative composition of a scholarly webtext for Kairos.
by

Anne Mooney

on 16 August 2016

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Transcript of Tales of a Webtext with 10 Authors: Pedagogical Affordances of Digital Collaboration Tools

Slack
discussion - brainstorming - organization - planning - decision making
Slack provided a central location for conversation that could be viewed by any member of our team at any time.
Live chat logs remain visible so others can view and join in on conversations hours or even days later, whenever suits their schedule.
Optional mobile and desktop notifications, as well as the ability to tag or directly message another team member, allowed us to respond quickly to any new comments, questions, or time-sensitive discussions of particular relevance.
Chat channel structure allowed us to create separate chat channels for discussion of whatever topics we needed, from scheduling meetings to reflecting on editor feedback.

Face-to-Face
While we made effective use of online communication tools, sometimes there is no substitute for being in the same room as your collaborators. As indispensable as these tools were for us, hashing things out over a few pizzas and a note-filled white board was equally indispensable, affording us the ability to:
WordPress
publishing - editing - layout - organization
Many of our collaborators had some previous experience with WordPress as a blogging platform, so even though we were planning a static webtext, having some foundational knowledge of WordPress systems allowed us all a way into the process without having to learn something radically new.
The variety of themes available allowed us to be flexible in the kind of text we wanted to create while still providing us with a guiding structure and minimizing the technical knowledge needed to build our webtext.
WordPress is
not
well-suited to being edited by multiple authors simultaneously, so support from other digital tools was essential to our process.
Google Drive
drafting - revising - feedback - collaboration
Collaborators were able to actively write to the same documents, simultaneously or not as the situation required.
Comments could become threaded discussions, allowing the original author to respond and other collaborators to agree, disagree, or otherwise elaborate on one another’s feedback.
Stored document edit history meant that earlier versions of our work were never lost if we needed to refer back to them.
Google Drive as shared cloud storage space was crucial to ensure we all had access to the variety of multimedia files being used in our project
Kate Artz
Salem State University
artz.kate@gmail.com
www.kateartz.com
Twitter: @tvethiopia
Anne Mooney
Salem State University
amooney402@gmail.com
www.annemariemooney.com
Twitter: @ammoons
Danah Hashem
Salem State University
danah.hashem@gmail.com
www.dhashem.com
Twitter: @danahrhashem
Megan Grandmont
Salem State University
megan.grandmont@gmail.com
www.megangrandmont.com
Twitter: @megangrandmont
Contact Info
Takeaways
Flexibility is perhaps the most important factor in making large-group collaboration work. A typical classroom group-work dynamic--in which each group member is individually responsible for a part of the final product--could not have been successful for our project.
We needed to acknowledge, respect, and accommodate the varied strengths and weaknesses of our collaborators
, while also being patient, understanding, and flexible in considering the varying time commitments we were each able to make.

When writing and collaborating with digital tools,
there is no magic bullet
; no one program will meet all of your needs perfectly. Different tools have their own affordances and constraints, which may or may not suit a particular project, group, or context. Further,
digital tools can often be used to their best effect when used in concert with others
; of the three tools we’ve chosen to highlight here, all were essential but none alone could have met our needs. It was the combination of these tools--alongside more traditional methods of writing and collaboration--that allowed our project to be successful even with a large group of student collaborators with varying degrees of experience and involvement.
Tales of a webtext with 10 authors:
Pedagogical affordances of digital collaboration tools
work simultaneously on a single item
clarify digital comments and interactions
incorporate interpersonal interaction to mediate differences in opinion
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