Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Digital Collaboration in the Classroom

I'm an Assistant Learning Specialist for student athletes at Brigham Young University. My role is primarily to help students who are struggling academically learn how to learn. While we participated as a class in the brainstorming session via Google Docs, I realized that this could be incredibly useful for a particular football player I mentor. We'll call him Bob.

Bob doesn't care much for writing. He's a hard worker, but he likes to get in, sit down, and write what he needs to write. Often, though, he gets frustrated when his ideas just aren't coming together. I usually work with him before he turns in a rough draft of a paper for Writing 150. We pound out a paper (all his ideas and words, for the record), then he turns in the rough draft to several of his peers. After he gets this feedback, Bob can finally work on his final draft.

This is an incredibly disjointed method of writing for a student who desperately wants to do his best writing, right then, right there. One mentor, even though I'm quite a confident writer, is not enough collaboration; the peer contributions to his piece are useful, but they are too delayed.

Why not use technology to rectify this problem? Why not use Google Docs, or any other digital collaboration tool, to help Bob clean up his ideas on the spot? How wonderful this instantaneous feedback would be for a student who wants things done instantaneously! The status quo condemns Bob's natural writing methods. The status quo says that Bob is wrong to want to sit down, right his stuff, stand up, and go play football, free from lingering thoughts on the paper he still has to complete. As writers, it might be hard to understand why Bob struggles so much with the process. Non-writers wonder why it has to be so drawn out. Technology can help us bridge the gap between the need to go through the entire writing process--including peer workshopping-- and the desire of many to write a paper and be done with it.

1 comment:

  1. That's a great application for Google Docs. It will probably be encouraging to be able to get peer reviews so quickly and effortlessly. Sounds like you have an interesting job.