Writeboard

June 10, 2008 at 3:11 pm 2 comments

http://123.writeboard.com

Writeboard is a free text editor which allows users to collaboratively (but not real time) write, share, revise, and compare different versions of text documents. It is very easy to register – enter the site, click on create, give you text a name, assign it a password, enter your email address for identification purposes, write you text, invite those with whom you’d like to collaborate by entering their email addresses and then click on send. Each person will receive an invitation with a link to view and contribute to the writeboard. Every writeboard has a URL so you can get to it from any computer at any time.

Writeboard requires Internet Explorer 6.x, Safari, or Firefox. Writeboard doesn’t work with Internet Explorer 5.x. Other browsers may or may not work, but only the three listed are guaranteed compatible. It supports Diff which is a file comparison utility that outputs the differences between two files, or the changes made to a current file by comparing it to a former version of the same file. Diff displays the changes made per line for text files.

As I was exploring Writeboard, I thought of

· Group/team collaborative writing tasks. Each participant can add his/her section allowing the document to evolve as one unit instead of separate sections needing to be cut and pasted together with word processing programs saved in multiple files that may not be compatible.

· Collaborative work on an essay. Changes and additions can be made easily while the previous and original texts remain available for comparisons.

· Drafting text for presentations. Proofing and editing requests can be made to desired recipients without using Word (or other word processing program) or having to include an attachment.

· Teacher designed writing activities. Students can correct intentionally embedded errors and/or extend the prompt.

It is very easy to use, is not blocked by BCPS and you can choose the option to be notified of each response through your email. In all applications, a comment section is available. This allows for clarification, suggestions, commentary, discuss changes before making them, etc. to be made without interfering with or becoming lost in the text. The comment section may be used to simply converse about the text without making changes. Once the document is ready to publish, it can be sent via email or exported to a text file.

Some limitations are that whiteboard is limited to text directly entered through the site. Users can not import text from external sources but can copy and paste it in. If you want to add text features like bold, italics, bulleted or numbered lists, indented blocks, etc. writeboard, for example, you have to consult their “formatting guide”. It is easy to use, but it does add an additional step. Also, a user can not be creative with the use of clip art, pictures, borders, etc. It is strictly intended for developing text.

If writeboard is used often and organization becomes an issue, you can pay a fee to subscribe to a Backpack (see Scott’s blog) account designed to support writeboard. The site claims that using Backpack and Writeboard together is a great way to keep your writing organized and not have to remember multiple usernames and passwords.

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Entry filed under: Collaborate.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gmdevos  |  June 10, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    This sounds interesting. I like your idea of having students correct errors that are intentionally embedded in a text. They have such great difficulty working in partners to revise work. That kind of practice would be excellent and the fact that it is on the computer makes it more appealing to students. I like many of these sites that allow students to write collaboratively. My question is about the need for email addresses in order to gain access. Even for the sites that are not blocked, what do we do about gaining access for students without having to use email addresses for them?

    Reply
  • 2. vlockwood  |  June 14, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    I agree with you comment about email addresses. With that student activity in mine, however, I think reaching students who are hospitalized or are out sick for an extended time could benefit. I actually think Writeboard is best served by professionals and adult students.

    Reply

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