I consider myself very proficient with technology, but before reading this chapter I had no idea what collaborative editing was. I had no clue that computer programs exist which allows multiple users to access a document easily and efficiently. In the past, whenever I co-wrote a paper with a classmate, we would simply email the document back and forth to each other. This would often become confusing at times. We would not know where we had each made edits, and finding a final version was often difficult. This task often proved to be even more problematic when one of us could not open the file on our own computers, or worse, when a professor could not open our final work because it was in the wrong format. After reading this chapter, it is almost as if a light bulb has been turned on in my mind. Computer programs that promote collaborative editing alleviate many of the problems that I have faced in the past.
The authors of this text decided to highlight Buzzword, a program made by Adobe. I am familiar with many of Adobe’s programs, especially their creative suite (Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere Pro), but have never heard of Buzzword. I’ve heard of Google Docs, but have not used the program extensively. I’ve only used Google Docs in the past to look at certain documents, but I did not realize that the program was also a way to collaboratively review and edit. From the step-by-step instructions presented in this chapter, it appears as if collaborative editing programs such as Buzzword are easy and simple to use. When I have some more time on my hands I will download Buzzword myself and try to start using it.
Not only will I attempt to use Buzzword for my own personal use, I will also try to use the program in the classroom. For this class, I am working in a high school alongside a Language Arts/Journalism teacher. She is the advisor of her school’s newspaper, and teaches several classes of students who contribute to each month’s issue. I’ve witnessed the emailing of stories back and forth between her and the students. The students also have access to a common drive, where they can put their stories in when they are done. However, I really think Buzzword would be a better alternative. If this teacher were to use Buzzword with her students, she would be able to review their pieces of writing and add comments easily. The students could go back into their work and make appropriate changes. Using Buzzword would take less time and would be a lot easier. I also liked the example that the authors provided in this chapter, which explained how students could use Buzzword to collaboratively write a book report. I think that the history component of the program is great, because it allows teachers to track how students contributed and made changes to a document. Not only can teachers use Buzzword to grade student writing, but student participation in a project can be documented.
My only question from reading this chapter has to do with the age students should be when they start using Buzzword. I do think Buzzword can be used in elementary school, but it also depends on how well students are able to interact with technology. Projects that require little writing can still use Buzzword, which could apply to younger children. I think that as long as a teacher provides the appropriate support to students, collaborative editing programs could possibly be used at any age.