"Will You TypeWith.me?" allows users to collaboratively create a word processing document. It is one of a number of sites that have recently appeared on the Internet that are using the open source EtherPad engine.
Type of Material:
TypeWith.me is a combination of a word processor, chat, and wiki tool that allows users to collaborate both asynchronously and in real-time.
TypeWith.me is an excellent tool for collaboratively creating short documents with small groups of students. It would be valuable for faculty members or committees in creating white papers or other team projects.
Users will need a current web browser and access to the Internet.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Instructors using this tool will determine their own learning goals.
Collaboration by users to create, produce and edit documents could be a goal in addition to disciplinary goals.
Target Student Population:
This tool can be utilized with school-aged children through adults. Users do not have to authenticate so younger students can use this tool without having to log in.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Students should understand basic word processing concepts. Instructors should provide students with directions on how they will collaborate together. Basic typing and editing skills are especially useful.
Evaluation and Observation
The students will be using this tool to create content.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This tool has great potential to be used effectively by small groups to collaborate on the creation of a short document. Instructors have the ability to play back the work and see each students contributions as they occurred.
Students enter their name as part of a legend rather than having to provide log-in information. This makes it much easier to use this tool on the fly, without having to plan group assignments and log-in credential in advance.
The website can be easily integrated into any curriculum or discipline. The material is effective for teaching and reinforcing cooperation and collaboration between stakeholders.
While it is helpful to not have students log in, this can also create a problem if students use more than one computer/browser during a project. Each new device will assume the student is a new user and create new legend information for him/her. It is possible to have one student listed under three or four different colors on the legend by the end of the project. Also, the URLs for group work areas are dynamically created and not retrievable if lost. It works best to post these links in an LMS or email so they can be easily retrieved.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Typewith.me (EtherPad) is easy for students to use as long as they are familiar with how a word processor works. Students can watch each other type and follow the colors of the legend to determine who made each contribution. This tool can be used asynchronously or in real-time. There is a chat area on the web page that can be used to discuss the content. Each document includes a Time Slider, which can be used to replay the project.
Even though Typewith.me is easy to use, students can get confused about where to enter content and where to enter comments about the project. It is helpful to provide training prior to the start of a project to make sure all students understand how to collaborate in this type of environment.