Collaborative writing

For the past 10 years or so, students have been using Google Docs for collaborative writing, both for lecture notes and assignments. Now students can also use Microsoft Word and OneNote in the Office 365 package.

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Overview of trends in teaching and learning

Tools in collaborative writing

Collaborative writing in today's digital world takes place mostly in virtual gatherings, whether that is at different geographical locations or sitting together and working on-line.

Get started with collaborative writing in Office 365

Both students and employees at NTNU have access to this package through Digital services for NTNU.

Collaborative writing in Office 365

Benefits of Collaborative writing in Office 365

  • OneDrive - cloud storing, where you store your files, is located in Ireland and not the United States. This provides greater security according to stricter EU rules on transparency.
  • All staff and students at NTNU have access to Office 365 via Digital services at NTNU
  • You can start writing in an on-line word document and save it locally. All editing done on-line or locally can be transferred both ways.
  • OneNote provides excellent opportunities to digitize, share and structure all lecture notes.
  • You can build your own notebooks in OneNote using subpages for all subjects and topics, add links, images, graphs, illustrations and texts etc.
  • It is the same principle as that for Word; OneNote works both in the cloud and on your computer as a client.

Benefits of collaborative writing

Why should you as a teacher encourage your students to engage in collaborative writing? Writing is an important learning strategy and may promote students to

  • formulate expertise in their own words
  • get a greater proximity to the subject matter
  • achieve greater in-depth learning rather than shallow learning
  • structure their thought process
  • create and establish contexts within their academic content

Writing is an important part of academic studies, and collaborative writing is not a new phenomenon. The method has been in use long before Google Docs or OneDrive digitized collaborative writing. Such tools provide possibilities, that are connected to the value of writing in itself.

In addition, we may associate gain on collaborative writing up against the skills the society and the labour market demand in the current and future world.

In addition, collaborative writing could be an important skill for students who face different demands from society and the labour marked in the current and future world. In order to master the technology and information age careers, the graduated students need a set of different skills than previous generations.

In Norwegian, we refer to these as digital skills.

Perhaps it is more appropriate to use the English expression 21st Century Skills, which involves:

  • Learning Skills: Critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration and communication
  • Literacy Skills: Understanding and using information, media and technology
  • Life Skills: Flexibility, initiative, social skills, productivity and leadership

As teachers, one can use collaborative writing to train "learning skills" through building, cooperation and providing criticism on others' texts or text contributions. One also starts most collaborative writing processes with ideas in the group, which provides training in creative thinking.

Writing together can also be a good exercise for the students in critical thinking, discussion, analysis and collaboration. At the same time it will provide students the technology and tools, which enables this way of working.

  • In a socio-cultural learning perspective, learning occurs through interaction. In other words learning occurs with others.
  • Students build their knowledge through learning from each other under collaborative writing process.
  • Students can learn about the writing process through cooperation/ combined effort- discuss and agree on the academic content, structure of the sentence or text structure
  • Possibility to carry out collaborate writing and learn together with the teacher or a research fellow.
  • Synchronous feedback and guidance
  • Flexible working methods that allow students to collaborate, regardless of location The Quest for ‘Deeper Learning’

Wikipedia: 21st Century Skills

eLearning Industry: Instructional Design Models and Theory - The Sociocultural Learning Theory

Digital Services at NTNU

See also

Cooperative and collaborative learning

Experiences from collaborative writing from University of North Carolina


Contact Section for Teaching and Learning Support for help with digital teaching through NTNU Help