Based on my experience, having students collaborate on a document is not that easy but brings good results. As with Classroom Browser, starting a real-time collaborative session is easy, I use it more and more.
I found the default document app, accessible from the home screen (Document) very convenient in real situation as well as asynchronous.
As you will see below, the tool is easy but is surprisingly powerful with real time color based collaboration and timeline.
The default document app proposed on the home screen of classroom browser is TitanPad. This is a web app with basic but solid collaborating features (real-time and colors per author).
Starting a session is easy, do not requires a login, and the app is ad-free.
From the TitanPad home screen, click on Create public pad, as shown below:
You are immediately editing a document that you can share.
As highlighted in the screen capture, you can enter your name (your students should do the same).
The text is colored depending on the author. The sidebar is useful as you can see the names for the colors, however, we don’t use the chat part in the classroom, as we talk each others in a much more natural way…
Hiding the sidebar is easy (click on Sidebar in the bottom-right part of the page) and put more emphasis on the document itself.
To share it, use the Share button as usual.
I usually prepare few documents (empty or pre-filled) to use them in the classroom. I create the document, paste or type text if necessary, then I just copy the URL in the URL bar. I can paste it in my lesson plan.
Time Sider and Exporting
I was positively surprised to discover the time slider feature, and the more I use it, the more I find it natural and convenient, specially with the export feature that reflects your exact position in the timeline.
To view the time slider, click on the yellow button in the top right of the page.
When the time slider is displayed, you can view the evolution of the document by moving the cursor horizontally. When you export (download), the file reflects the preview, based on the cursor position.
As I had difficulties to deal with too many documents, this tool allows me to use the same document for multiple purposes, clearing the content as needed. The timeline allows me to go back in time, see the different texts we worked on, and export any version in the format of my choice.
To go back to the document in collaboration mode, just use the Back button as shown below:
In most of the cases, all the classroom have the document opened, but only one student will write simultaneously, at least on the same paragraph.
Creating topics and attributing groups to topics
One of my favorite use case is to list few topics in my document, to share it and to split the class into groups (one group per topic).
A group of student choose a writer, and work together to determine what the writer will write.
Sometime, a group will need information from another group, then this group will also need information from them. That way, we can see in action two levels of collaboration: one is local and verbal (the group) and the other is the interaction between groups.
I tested few time an open collaboration on the same document, with or without rules, for a small or a large group of students.
The fact that anyone can erase what everyone else wrote is the limit. As it is not possible to block or even to see who erased initiated conflicts in the groups.
For me – and my students, co-writing worked well asynchronously and with rules: A group of 5 maximum students had to co-write a document as an homework. The rule is to comment the text of someone else instead of editing or removing it.
In that situation I provide one link to a document per group, and we review together the document in the classroom – with Classroom Browser, I can easily share the work from all the group so the classroom can view them all.
Written by John Enostom, sharing his experience with the Classroom Browser.
— Classroom Browser (@classroom_br) September 6, 2015