Making a Difference: The Process of Writing Collaboratively

This composition was written for my Computer Supported Collaborative Writing  class, a class that taught how to write collaboratively as well as produce and present ideas for clients. This class challenged us students as it was taught online. Alternative ways of communicating were utilized such as Skype, Facebook, email, and Google Docs. The objective of this assignment was to reflect on the class as a whole as well as the product we produced and presented. Here I discuss this as well as the event we chose to create and work collaboratively on. 

The ability to create masterpieces with words is a valuable skill both for the individual and for the career world. In almost every type of work position, writing is a beneficial ability in order to not only compose formal documents, but also communicate with clients, employers, and coworkers. Another crucial asset in one’s career is collaboration. Although working individually is a worthy skill, being able to work with other team members proves to be just as efficient, maybe even more so. The same concept is applied to collaborative writing. When a group of writers are able to discuss ideas and compose one piece for a specific purpose, it proves to be quite the valuable asset.

The class I recently completed was called Computer-Supported Collaborative Writing Online where the goal of the class was to achieve successful team writing while using computer applications. Since the course was online, our class had the challenge of collaborating through other means. The goal was to create a project that would benefit the community such as creating posters, flyers, business plans, and other advertising plans for a specific event or project. We chose to create a program that would benefit the community of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Our small group chose to assist The Banquet in Sioux Falls which is a ministry program that provides meals as well as fellowship to those who seek it. Since The Banquet does not receive government funds, we wanted to create a way to provide more funding for their worthy cause. E.A.T.S.E., Entrees Aiding The Sioux Empire, was developed and the planning and writing began. The program’s mechanics are quite simple. Local restaurant owners choose an item from their menu to add to the E.A.T.S.E. menu. Every time the item is purchased, the business agrees to donate a certain percentage of the profit of that item to The Banquet. Restaurants of Sioux Falls will not only benefit themselves by participating in the E.A.T.S.E. program, but they will also benefit those in need in the Sioux Falls area. This is also a great way for community members to volunteer without changing their busy schedules.

Since the class was offered only online, there was a slight barrier for each of us to write effectively and also display each of our writing skills in our project documents. Our writing abilities were shown in one of our low stakes assignments, which presented us with the task of writing persuasively. The goal was to persuade our clients why our program, E.A.T.S.E., is a valuable cause. Another way our writing was presented was creatively. A previous assignment asked us to create a hypothetical scenario for each type of personal profile our program would benefit. We were to compose four scenarios and place them onto profile cards with images. Another genre of writing that was portrayed was research. This was done in many of our projects such as our final presentation, profile cards, and persuasion essays in order to provide support for our statements and claims.

There were many computer applications our group utilized during this class. To communicate, we used Skype for live chat and video, Facebook to keep in touch and become acquainted with each other, and DSU web mail to keep each other updated and discuss ideas. To prepare our presentations and make sure we were all on the same page, we used Google Docs PowerPoint. We also used Internet search engines for research. Amanda, our team director, used Design tools to design our profile cards as well as our logo.

There were many moments of success as well as challenges along the path during this project while collaborating virtually. The challenges were staying on the same page as far as writing style. This was where email and Google Docs came in handy. We could view each other’s work, edit it, and discuss in which direction and/or style we wished to go in. It would have been more convenient to meet in person in these situations, but we found, especially for the final project, that Google Docs worked quite well as it displays each of our work instantly. One could edit work or make suggestions within the document as well. It was during these moments that I considered both challenging and successful. Skype calls also worked quite well in discussing our thought processes live, without attempting to formally write out our thoughts.

This experience differed from face to face collaborations in many ways, but it also resembled them in other ways. This online class allowed us to utilize new media methods of today such as Skype, Google Docs, PowerPoints, Facebook, and web mail. These approaches allowed us to communicate as if we were meeting face to face, but in a completely new way. Technology is rapidly growing and is becoming a more and more popular aspect in today’s society. It is important to possess such skills in the career world. Face to face is convenient, but using tools such as Google Docs may even improve the writing process. Many careers depend on employees to not only be able to work collaboratively, but also to be able to accept the challenge of communicating virtually and assessing the right tools to achieve specific tasks. This class allowed us to create a beneficial program for the Sioux Falls area by writing collaboratively and using new media as a method of communication and working together. The skill of writing is powerful, but being able to write as well as work and compose collaboratively is even more so.

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