Buzzword is a web-based, collaborative word processor built on Adobe's Flash platform. Teachers can use it to have students collaborate on writing assignments. Persons collaborating using Buzzword will each need to create an account, this helps if you need them to make changes or add comments to your document.
Type of Material:
Buzzword is a web appliance. It works like a word processor but runs within a web browser.
Buzzword may be an excellent tool for projects that require collaborative writing. It also may work well for situations where students need to sign up for a presentation time and provide a topic. Buzzword would allow an activity like this to be done outside of class.
Users must have high speed access to the Internet, a current web browser, with an updated version of Flash Player installed.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Useful web 2.0 collaborative or independent word processing tool. Learner goals could include word processing use, lessons, and comparisons all grades. User-friendly functionality.
Instructors will design their own learning goals when using Buzzword. It may be an excellent tool for projects that require collaborative writing
Target Student Population:
Middle school and up, since students are required to sign up for an account.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Users should be familiar with how a word processor works. It would also be helpful to know how a wiki works to better understand how it is possible to revert to older versions of a saved document.
Evaluation and Observation
Adobe gets it right with Buzzword in several ways. First, Buzzword lives in the cloud. Students are doing a lot of collaboration these days so it should be assumed that a saved document would be stored on a server that can be accessed by everyone working on it. Second, Buzzword assumes that documents are collaborative so it is easy to see who else is working on them. It's also easy to revert back to an earlier version when a mistake has been made.
This is a high quality, current tool, with help tutorials and tech support that can be used in many situations for collaboration.
It wasn't clear if a teacher has the ability to see statistics showing who has made which changes in the document. Teachers need to be able to know who made various changes to minimize social loafing.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Buzzword has great potential to be at the center of a collaborative group activity. A common problem faced by small groups is document version control. It is easy for two team members to be working on separate versions of a Word document at the same time and find out later that one member's changes were left out when the document was passed to another member. With Buzzword, the document lives on a server and two students can be working on it at the same time, and both users changes will be saved.
Buzzword is a beta product so it is still being tested. Users should make sure to save copies of their work off-line just in case Buzzword crashes. At this point, technical issues would need to be handled by instructors.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Buzzword is intuitive, having many common features of a typical word processor such as common menu names like "Edit", "Insert", and "Help". The help documentation is well written. Collaborators should be able to be productive with very little assistance.
There are clear directions on the tutorial as well as strong support as seen by others on the forums. It is visually engaging and high quality.
Buzzword was tested using Safari on a Macintosh. On several occasions reviewers needed to refresh their browser in order to find the mouse pointer. This problem will surely be fixed in a later version.
Other Issues and Comments:
This is a beta version, usually not noted for being bug-less. Time and use will offer the best advice.