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March 8, 2017

How Collaborative Writing Can Improve Your Writing Skills?

Collaborative Writing

Let’s start this blog with words of wisdom from Helen Killer – “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” These words sound simple but hold reflective meaning.  They directly target the enunciation of why does collaboration always results into something bigger and better. The reason for coming together to create and foster something can always be a better driving force and yield more productivity.

So, what does collaboration mean?

Collaboration is the resultant situation of two or more people who are working together towards a common goal. Now in the context of this discussion, collaborative writing generally refers to writing a project by multiple authors. Here, we have tried to frame the answer quite practically, but the whole idea of collaboration is kind of vague and abstract. It is something that cannot be projected easily; it involves intricate psychological aspects and understanding on the mental and emotional level. We are quite sure that until today many of you were digging for the exact purpose of collaborative writing as well as for a proper definition of it. Mostly maximum numbers of writers go on to change your rigid false notion, but leave you with sole ideas that confuse you even more. The reason is the idea of collaborative idea is a slippery concept and has many facets that are too blurred to be explained in simple words. For better understanding, let’s go deeper into more aspects of collaborative writing.

David Farkas explains the complex idea of collaborative writing with four possible definitions which have proved to be effective in approaching collaboration through an in-depth analysis.

  1. Collaboration exists when multiple numbers of people collaboratively creating the compact text.
  2. Numbers of authors are writing portions of a document
  3. More than one person is adapting a single document by reviewing and reworking by numerous persons
  4. One individual is working with other persons and drafting a document based on the ideas given by those persons.

These definitions will surely give you some constructive ideas of what is collaborative writing. Farkas’ definitions are clearly drawing the line between which is collaboration and which is not.

Why does Collaborative Writing Make Sense?

If you practically approach collaborative writing, you will see that many writers are involved in it unknowingly.  Authors say that today’s professional work culture is simply too complex for one person to tackle. To understand the level of complexity; first, you need to start by looking into some numbers. As per, 50.1% of the world population is using the internet to ‘scan through’ millions of information. And a large population of writers is solely writing for more than 3.6 billion internet users. The figure is booming with every passing year. On 2015, the number of internet users was 3.2 billion. Therefore, from these stats, it is evident that the whole paradigm of writing scenario has shifted over the years.

Why is this Shifting in Writing Style Taking Place?

In addition, as per a report published in The Guardian on February 28, 2014, internet users are running behind ‘instant gratification and quick fix’, and the same behavioral pattern is clearly noticeable among users who are looking for information on the internet. The moment an internet user finds relevant information, they stop scrolling. The easy access to information is decreasing the attention span and desire for in-depth analysis. So when writers are writing for a population of fickle minds, then the writing needs to be shaped in an easily consumable way. When the scenario is drifting and changing so frequently, writers are getting more interested in adopting the collaborative style of writing. The expertise of many minds is becoming more suitable to produce a complete and comprehensible writing.

What do Studies and Researches Talk about Collaborative Writing?

There are many proven effectiveness of adopting the collaborative method of writing. The collaborating method of writing simplifies an otherwise lengthy process of reworking and reviewing. Any collaborative project can create organic learning opportunities equally for all members. Although working in a team can be challenging for some, but it shows positive result towards developing the communicative proficiency by forcing the conciliation of meaning.

As per a research paper published in Journal of Second Language Writing on collaborative writing and students’ reflections, the length of the texts produced by two or more people collaboratively is shorter than those produced by individuals. But those short contents were way better than long ones regarding writing style and grammatical accuracy. The findings of the study conclude that the process of working together push the participants towards giving each other useful feedbacks which result into quality write-ups.

Another study conducted by Changho Kwon on student perspective on group work concludes that students perceived group work and team projects positively although they faced many challenges in the process like different proficiency levels of group members, problems while making decisions, etc. But the study suggests students are welcoming the idea of the collaborative learning environment.

How our Brain Reacts Towards a Collaborative Ambience?

Collaboration involves extensive organizational assurance, a higher level of confidence and a greater sharing of turf. While working in a cooperative ambience, our brain experiences a fixture of emotions. Learners don’t touch, see or hear passively, they look, listen and feel active. Therefore, the physical characteristic of learning environment has significant cognitive and behavioral consequences.

A learning environment works as active stimuli. The situation can elicit constructiveness and can encourage emotional responses which can lead towards enhancing the learning capability of learners. The findings of the study clearly demonstrate that the collaborative environment can actually work towards the betterment of the learning experience. Think-pair-share technique motivates our minds to think more competitively which help students to learn and score better.

What Measures do you need to Adapt to Increase your Chance of Success when you are writing in a Group?

Now as you know all the positive aspects of going for a group project, while working in a group, you can definitely start preparing yourself with these tips. For the effectiveness of your initiative, first, you can start with knowing individuals in your group. Build up a basic rapport with your team. Do not consider only one person; try to build up the basic rapport with everyone.

  • The next thing that you need to consider is framing guidelines, as without particular instructions you won’t be to able to reach preliminary goals
  • There are some ground rules that you need to follow in order to increase the productivity. First, you must start with deciding time, place and length of the group meeting prior than starting the project so that the minimum chance of confusion can be avoided
  • To increase the overall performance of the group, identify each member’s responsibility but allow room for individual talents and skills
  • Follow an agreed upon time-table when the group people can meet, but always make the calendar flexible.

Professor Andrea Lunsford of Stanford University talks about the benefits of collaboration. Some of the significant benefits of collaborative writing are –

  • Collaboration actively helps in problem finding as well as problem solving
  • Collaboration helps in learning abstractions
  • Collaboration initiative aids in transfer and adaptation, and it promotes interdisciplinary thinking
  • Collaboration promotes excellence and motivates participants to go for more. To gain excellence, presence of multiple workforces is beneficial
  • Collaboration in learning encourages active learning. Collaborative writing develops synthetic and analytical skills.

Different Aspects of Practical Approaches towards Collaborative Writing

In an ideal environment for collaborative writing, every contributor has almost equal capability to add, amend or alter textual contents. But this might lead to a recursive situation as one edit can prompt other writers to go for making more changes. So collaborative writing will only be easy if the collaboration has a pre-defined aim in mind. Using some tools to make things simpler can bring some substantial advantages in a collaborative environment. The advantages are wide ranging, from increased communication among writers to efficient work process. Especially for students, a classroom environment implementing collaborative tools can be appealing. Tools can get students more interested and involved in the class. Using tools like software can encourage participation, interaction and can make the collaboration smooth. Besides students, professional assignment writers are also getting into collaborative writing and increasing using these tools.

What are the Different Collaborative Writing Strategies?

Collaborative writing is increasingly penetrating multiple sectors for over two decades now. Different approaches have been used in various circumstances. Five different strategies exist in collaborative writing,

  • Single author writing

It is the arrangement when one particular member of the team writes as the representative of the team. Ideation is diverse, but a single person usually does the implementation. Single author writing is that kind of arrangement when the writing task in simpler.

  • Sequential single writing

In this way of collaborative writing, one member writes down the entire document. Every member is allocated with a definite piece of the document.  As per a predefined time-table, each writer writes his or her segment and then transfer the document on to the next member.

  • Parallel writing

In this type of collaborative writing, a single document is divided into portions and each member is assigned to different parts at the same time. There are altogether two types of parallel writing – horizontal division parallel writing and stratified division parallel writing. First, one exists in a situation when group members divide the entire task into subsections and each member is responsible for developing or writing his or her assigned portion. In stratified division parallel writing, different members are assigned with different roles.

  • Reactive writing

This collaborative writing strategy implies team members’ collaboration happens synchronously to develop the write-up. Team members need to make adjustments when it comes to the collaboration, but the terms are flexible.

  • Mixed mode

This term describes a form of writing which results from combining two or more form of collaborating writing strategies.

This apart, there are three more types of collaborative writing strategies which are accurate for academic setting:

  • Turn writing

This collaborative writing approach is more cooperative than collaborative, authors write different portions and those portions are merged in a synchronized way to form a full document.

  • Lead writing

One person writes a document which is amended by others.

  • Writing together side by side

When two or more persons compose a single textual content they discuss their perspective with each other, they negotiate about what to write and what not to. One member processes the content written by another one. One of the authors does the job of a scriber and any other one acts as a gatekeeper. In this arrangement, the roles are not static; roles are interchangeable time to time.

What are the Different Patterns of Collaborative Writing?

There are multiple levels of collaboration when it comes to textual contents. Generally while compiling a document, the authors adopt various modes of completion. There are seven different organizational patterns for carrying out collaborative writing.

  1. In one pattern, the team together outlines the writing task, then individually each writer prepares separate parts and then the parts are compiled to form a whole document.
  2. Another pattern involves planning and outlining the writing task at first in order to collect the document, one member scribes the entire document then other members of the group edit and revise the draft.
  3. In the third pattern, one member of the team plans and writes the entire document, and then other members of the group review the entire document.
  4. In another model, one person plans and writes the first draft, then one or more member of the group revise the draft while consulting the original writer.
  5. The group plans and writes the draft together, then one or more member edits or reviews the draft without consulting the original authors.
  6. One member assigns portions to different writers; individual writer completes their respective tasks, and then one person compiles and revises the entire document.
  7. In this pattern, one member dictates, another member records and then edits the required portions.

What are the Tools that can make the Collaborative Writing Process Smooth?

The whole paradigm of writing is shifting very rapidly. Thanks to a wide range of new software which is pushing the collaborative writing genre to new heights? With these softwares, students will be able to write with more ease. When it comes to collaborative writing, students need software with special features as collaborative writing involves a lot of editing, reworking and collaborating on different documents and different write-ups. Custom assignment writing services are also setting foot in collaborative writing genre.

Collaboratively producing a quality document involves brainstorming and editing. So the ideal software for collaborative writing will apparently need to be a highly efficient one. Here we are listing down some of the collaborative tools which are specially designed for classroom application. Assignment editing has become more efficient with these tools –

  • MixedInk

MixedInk is a free user-friendly online interface that allows users to work collaboratively on anything from fiction to research statements. With some new updates, this one has incorporated some specially designed education related features. The new version of MixedInk is beefed up with classroom specific tools. It comes with real-time suggestions and authorship tracking. On this tool, writers can comment on one another’s work and can do the peer evaluation.

  • Protagonize

More than a tool, it is an online community of writers based in Canada. This one is especially for those writers who are searching for opportunities in online collaborative creative writing. Currently, it has a base of 29,700 members from all over the world. This system will help and support all type of collaborative writing pattern. Users can be part of multiple ongoing projects in any writing circles or group and can improve their writing skill.

  • Glypho

This one is mainly for writing stories of simple structure. One user can share his or her story ideas and then anyone else can take the story forward by composing the first chapter. Other writers can compile a different version of the same chapter or installment and then other users review and vote for their favorites. Now the story moves on with the much-voted chapter. So if you are thinking about starting collaborative writing, this one can prove as a magic tool.

  • Novlet

This tool moves with non-linear story writing and the structure is somewhat similar with Glypho. Different users submit a different version of the same piece of writing and the most compelling one get the most votes. On Novlet, these story installments are called passages. Usually, it is just a few paragraphs and can be written in any language. Then the rest of the procedure is just like Glypho. In Novlet, there is no language related barrier; it can be an effective exercising tool for a foreign language class.

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