You are on page 1of 27

2012

Collaborative Online Writing

Anne Weaver All Hallows' School 10/29/2012

Contents
Contents..................................................................................................................................... 2 Acknowledgement ...................................................................................................................... 3 Abstract ..................................................................................................................................... 3 Introduction ............................................................................................................................... 3 Inquiry questions........................................................................................................................ 3 Literature Review ....................................................................................................................... 4 Collaboration........................................................................................................................... 4 Collaborative Writing............................................................................................................... 4 Wikis ....................................................................................................................................... 5 Editing..................................................................................................................................... 5 Review of Current Practice.......................................................................................................... 5 Situational Analysis..................................................................................................................... 5 Data Collection............................................................................................................................ 6 Research Methods....................................................................................................................... 6 Student Writing........................................................................................................................... 7 Feedback ................................................................................................................................... 8 Student Feedback 2011........................................................................................................... 8 Parent Feedback 2011........................................................................................................... 10 Author Feedback 2011........................................................................................................... 11 Parent feedback 2012............................................................................................................ 14 Data Analysis............................................................................................................................14 Conclusion................................................................................................................................ 15 Applicability to wider school contexts....................................................................................15 Originality.............................................................................................................................. 15 Technology............................................................................................................................ 15 Organisation..........................................................................................................................15 Collaboration......................................................................................................................... 15 Professional Development......................................................................................................15 2

Further Research and Implications for Practice......................................................................16 References................................................................................................................................ 16 Appendix A (Li et al. 2012) ....................................................................................................18 Appendix B (Rish, R. 2011) ...................................................................................................18 Appendix C (Gedera, D. S. P. 2011)........................................................................................27

Acknowledgement
This discussion reflects on 2 workshops conducted in 2012 and 2011 by Ms Kristine Cooke, Brisbane Girls Grammar School; Ms Cathy Oxley, Brisbane Grammar School; and Ms Anne Weaver, All Hallows School, QLD and in 2012 by Mary Mahoney and 2011, Ms Helen Stower - St Josephs College, Gregory Terrace. 2011 findings were also presented at the ASLA Conference, Sydney, 2011.

Abstract
Research demonstrates that digital media can promote learning outcomes. Teacher-librarians at four Brisbane schools two boys and two girls schools initiated a collaborative project to foster creative writing with selected Year 8 students. Each school already offers extension writing activities for their students, but this project differed in that it explored the notion of online shared writing, and challenged the students to write a joint story with a group scenario, but from the perspective of their own character.

Introduction
Various research projects have found that collaboration aids in problem solving, learning abstractions, transfer and assimilation; fosters interdisciplinary and critical thinking, deeper understanding of others, higher achievement in general, promotes excellence, engages the whole student and encourages active learning, synthesising and analysing. In addition the Australian Curriculum (ACARA 2012) strongly promotes goals relating to online and group collaboration throughout its General Capabilities. For example, the Literacy Capability discusses, "working harmoniously with others; being open to ideasreturning to tasks to improve and enhance their work." The section on Communicating with ICT discusses "participating in group and class discussions using a range of oral interaction skills to share ideas, explore topics and express opinions." Students should use ICT to: "share, exchange and collaborate to enhance learning by sharing information in digital forms, exchanging information through digital communication, and collaborating and collectively contributing to a digital product." The Capabilities also link communicative processes to achieving critical and creative thinking goals; "By sharing thinking, visualisation and innovation, and by giving and receiving effective feedback, students learn to value the diversity of learning and communication styles." Collaboration is also highlighted in Personal and Social capabilities; "On a social level, it helps students to form and maintain healthy relationships and prepares them for their potential life roles as family, community and workforce embers. Social awareness is seen as "identifying the strengths of team members and defining and accepting individual and group roles and responsibilities." Social management is where students are: "managing and positively influencing the emotions and moods of others. It includes learning how to cooperate, negotiate and communicate effectively with others, work in teams, make decisions, resolve conflict and resist inappropriate social pressure...Social management involves building skills associated with leadership, such as working in harmony with others and with shared purposes." There are many benefits and challenges in constructing learning activities that seek to develop these capabilities.

Inquiry questions
This investigation explores whether peer collaboration can improve student creative writing, the pedagogical implications and the value of using online collaborative tools such as a wiki. How can collaborative writing be implemented with students to improve creative writing? Should collaborative writing be implemented with students to improve creative writing? How can online tools be used to improve creative writing? How can group work/collaboration be used effectively in classrooms to improve student creative writing?

Literature Review
Collaboration
Research comparing learning outcomes of sixth-grade social studies students in classes using Kagan's Structures of
Cooperative Learning with a control group of students who did not use this framework, found that cooperative learning increased scores, even with students with disabilities. Collaboration on writing tasks was seen to foster students' reflective thinking. Collaborative texts were found to be shorter than individual texts, but better in terms of task fulfilment, grammatical accuracy, and complexity (Dotson, J. M. 2001). James, R et al (2002) states that when "effective group management processes are employed, clear assessment guidelines developed and communicated and valid and fair grading processes employed, the likelihood of positive learning outcomes and student satisfaction with group activities is significantly increased. Alternatively, if students cannot see the objective of group work, are unsure of what is expected of them, or believe the assessment methods are invalid or simply unfair, the educational benefits are reduced and tensions can emerge. The conditions under which group work is conducted are crucial to its success." James explores group assessment options and their advantages and disadvantages. Graham presents the views of many teachers that groupwork is ineffective. He believes group quality varies and many groups suffer from "anti-intellectualism, "getting by," and conformity." However, he highlights conclusions; also found in much other research, that the success of collaborative group work can be dependent on instructional design (Graham, G. 2012). Collaborative learning is based on the principle that working together creates greater understanding than working independently and that spoken and written interactions contribute to this increased understanding. Cooperative Learning is similar but has a more structured setting with more teacher control of the learning environment. Interactive learning relies on computer technology as the collaborative medium between student and teacher. These approaches differ in the amount of freedom allowed to students with collaborative learning strategies being most open (Panitz, T. nd). This article refers, among other things, to the benefits of connecting a students past experiences and interests to their writing. Diagrams are used to assist in depicting aspects of social interaction involved in collaboration, and the significance of student history and motivation for learning. See Appendix B, for examples of these diagrams and also teacher and student questionnaires and assessment tools (Rish, R. 2011). Frey and Fisher (2010) discuss how six important indicators are needed for teachers to design group projects that consolidate and extend learning. These are creative tasks, joint attention to the task, development of group social skills, language and organizational support, optimal group size and composition and an active teacher role. Davies (2009) discusses reasons why group work may fail, mostly relating to instructional design and methods for making group work effective. He includes management strategies to address these challenges, including peer review checklists and group contracts.

Collaborative Writing
"[T]he data I amassed mirrored what my students had been telling me for years: . . . their work in groups, their
collaboration, was the most important and helpful part of their school experience. Briefly, the data I found all support the following claims: Collaboration aids in problem finding as well as problem solving, learning abstractions, in transfer and assimilation; it fosters interdisciplinary thinking, leads not only to sharper, more critical thinking (students must explain, defend, adapt), but to a deeper understanding of others. Collaboration leads to higher achievement, in general. . . promotes excellence. Hannah Arendt states: 'For excellence, the presence of others is always required.' Collaboration engages the whole student and encourages active learning; it combines reading, talking, writing, thinking; it provides practice in both synthetic and analytic skills." (Nordquist, R. n.d.). Self-checklists and peer editing should be included in writing workshops. A three-step peer editing process is observed that consists of compliments, suggestions, and corrections taught to students through a sequence of whole group peer editing, small group peer editing, and individual peer editing (Dennis-Shaw, 2008) . Self-assessment enables students to improve higher order thinking skills and identify individual learning goals (Assessment, 2001). More time should be spent editing and polishing pieces of writing, rather than allowing students to write extensive amounts that are incorrect. Teachers need to model how to read writing prompts and give students practice, independently and with partners, to practice reading, dissecting, and planning writing pieces for various prompts. It is also useful to present selected writing samples and show scoring using a rubric. Class discussion and discussion with peers about effective writing will strengthen students ability to write upon demand for testing purposes and other future writing occasions (Smithson, M. 2008). Edwards-Groves found that use of technology, especially when integrated visibly and explicitly in classroom spaces promotes interactivity and creativity in writing and multi-modal texts. For the teachers involved, pedagogy was influenced by changes in the nature of collegial conversations (Edwards-Groves, 2012).

Wikis
Ewing explores how peer feedback can supplement teacher feedback. Incorporating technology into writing
assignments is a way to promote student engagement of audience. Discussion forums provide a real audience of readers who will be able to view progress and offer feedback and help further brainstorm ideas. These assignments also include a peer-editing component, where students have the ability to view common writing mistakes when they read their classmates assignments. Research indicates that sharing writing, particularly writing failures, is a critical component to becoming a successful writer (Ewing, T. 2010.) Kessler found that students were not hesitant to edit their peers postings on a wiki. In fact, they demonstrated more willingness to edit their peers writing than their own. It appears that students are willing to collaborate in such autonomous environments, but they may not strive for total accuracy. Students in this study demonstrated the ability to correct and learn from their own and classmates form errors, but not online when engaged in a task that they recognized as primarily focused on the creation of meaning. This may indicate that certain tasks and environments require more explicit practices and related expectations (Kessler, G. 2009). Diagrammatic images of wiki interactions can be found in Appendix A. Images In Appendix B reflect the potential for scaffolds to maximise and measure collaborative learning. A course feedback questionnaire used a five-point Liker type scale, and the questions were intended to measure five subscales: motivation (6 items), interaction (6 items), teachers role (3 items), audience (2 items) and technology factors (4 items) (Li et al. 2012). Snelling and Karanicolas (2008) see that wikis should be used with an emphasis on collaboration rather than competition. The Wiki tool provided significant benefits in assessment "fairness" by tracking the quality of individual student contribution within group projects. The role and accessibility of the e-facilitator were important for guidance for students, but more importantly increased opportunities for formative feedback, motivation and communication, which would not have been possible in a more traditional face-to-face classroom.

Editing
Writing Researchers agree that it is more effective to teach punctuation, sentence variety, and usage in the context of
writing than to approach the topic by teaching isolated skills (Chin, B. 2000). n.d.)

Dennen presents a variety of alternatives for implementing peer feedback effectively in online contexts (Dennen, V. Gedera looks at how to maximise peer feedback in a blog based writing activity which used process writing
techniques. A diagram of process writing and a screenshot of the peer guideline page from the wiki can be found in Appendix C. (Gedera, D. S. P. 2011). Woo et al discuss that unless collaborative activities are carefully orchestrated by the teacher, students may socialise instead of working, allocate most of the work to one member, complete the activity superficially, and generally not engage fully in a collaborative process. Educational technology such as wikis may help address these limitations and provide a useful platform for facilitating collaborative learning, particularly due to the history feature of wikis which can help students and teachers trace and reflect on progress of collaborative learning and contributions by each participant. The use of a wiki that requires social interaction lends itself to social constructivist theory which states that knowledge is the result of social interaction. Electronic communications between and among groups have been found to support an effective constructivist instructional strategy that fosters social negotiation (Woo, M., Chu, S., Ho, A., and Li, X., 2011).

Review of Current Practice


In modern times, writing is increasing in quantity, but much of it is online in the form of fan fiction, texts, blogs and comments, and increasingly shared with a variety of audiences. Many popular texts such as Shades of Grey and authors Amanda Hocking and Cassandra Clare have gained success with origins in online contexts, such as fan fiction. Publishers are identifying the advantage of signing writers who already have an online fan base; to translate this into print sales. Another market is creative writing via mobile phones. However, creative writing in schools is often still in the form of traditional 400 to 800 handwritten word short stories, although this is, no doubt, largely in response to current national and state testing programs, and other assessment forces. Research is limited, but growing, on ways to most effectively incorporate and take advantage of opportunities for online writing in school contexts.

Situational Analysis
The 2 writing workshops took place with selected students in 2011 and again with another group in 2012. The workshop commenced with an introductory evening event for parents and students, followed by two days of writing, where author, Brian Falkner, worked with the students to develop their writing skills. Examples of his writing techniques can be found at http://www.brianfalkner.co.nz/Writers_Tips.asp. Eight students were selected from each school, and during the workshop, the 32 students were divided into groups of four one student from each school in each group.

The 2 workshop days involved an alternating program of writing skills, including activities on structure, description, word choice and character development, and writing time. The students then had additional time over the holiday period to refine their writing. Each student wrote from his or her own character's voice but, collaboratively each group brainstormed plot details and how each character would act, react and interact. A shared wiki was set up where students could simultaneously write their stories and share their writing. The teacher librarians and author could also access the wiki for editing purposes. To provide an additional audience, a final evening for parents, students and other invited guests showcased the writing and learning experience. Later, the students writing was to be published as a book using blurb.com, in both print and online formats. 2011 Terms 1 and 2 Conduct writing workshop with 32 selected Yr 8 students from 4 schools 2012 Terms 1 and 2 Repeat writing workshop with improvements based on feedback from previous year with 32 selected Yr 8 students from 4 schools. Students were selected variously by the schools, including English teacher recommendation, application/invitation based on interest in writing and academic achievement in writing. 2012 Program ( 2011 Program very similar) Brisbane Grammar School Introduction and Welcome Tuesday night 27 March 6.00 8.00 pm Terrace (St Josephs College) Workshop Day 1 Wednesday 28 March 9.00 am 2.30 pm All Hallows' School Workshop Day 2 Thursday 29 March 9.00 am 2.30 pm Brisbane Girls Grammar School Presentation Evening Thursday 3 May 6.00 8.00 pm

Data Collection

Student, parent and teacher feedback via surveys Examination of student writing from the wiki Questioning and observation Teacher reflection

In 2011, students were permitted to opt out of the joint scenario and wrote stories of up to 5,000 words. This was reduced to 1000 words in 2012 (though some students still wrote around 2,000 words), and students were not permitted to opt out of each group's scenario. In 2011, Wikispaces was used for the workshop, but this was changed to PBworks in 2012 to gain spellcheck and a better comment function. The wiki was used to communicate with students, as well as email. Workshop information was posted on the wiki frontpage. (n.b. PBworks was not Apple compatible at the time of this workshop).

Research Methods
While feedback forms provided useful information, this inquiry indicated that the feedback needs to be better structured for automated analysis, such as through moodle questionnaires or surveymonkey, with more controlled fields. By basing these questionnaires on previous feedback, the quality of the responses is likely to improve, compared to the previous feedback forms which utilized only open ended questions. Another method used was observation. This led to the change in wiki used from 2011 to 2012. Also, in 2012, it was noticed that one student was having particular difficulty with group interaction. She commented that she had dominated the group and she was unhappy about this. Options, such as listening more to others were discussed with her, and further communication throughout the workshop indicated that she was much happier with her group participation. The wiki provided a wealth of information about student interactions and learning.

Student Writing
The following are examples of some student writing, as recognized on the presentation evening. The stories were of a very high standard for Year 8 students. Best Opening Lines It was the first time Charles truly saw joy in his younger brothers eyes, and the last. It's always easy. The climbers are so ignorant these days. Just a quick injection, a slightly frayed rope, a weakened harness. Either way, it works. I had murdered, and it felt good. Best Closing Line He sank silently through the air, everything he had ever felt, had or known discarded on the blood soaked mountain top. Its so quiet, he thought. So quiet. Funniest Lines Einstein screamed, but in a manly way. Gotcha, you little pest! Jensen yelled. Putting his face right up against mine, he said, Where's the treasure? I, quite frankly, just wanted to bite his nose. We plan to conduct these experiments on you as well, mainly because torture is far more entertaining than watching television. The coffee here was average. It wasnt fantastic, but it wasnt the kind where you would take a mouthful then spit it out, accidentally hitting the old lady sitting at the table in front of you.-

He opened the visor just enough to see my gun pointed at his face. I smirked. "Looks like you just got- With a hiss, Vax activated the emergency eject, shooting out across the ground. Seeing as I hadn't actually thought of what to say, it was almost a relief. Ickiest Lines The horse was slumped on its side, the glassy eyes staring, its side slick with congealed blood.The wicked lady laughed as she sliced off each of the little girls fingers. "I hate boats!" Troll moaned. His brown skin was turning a sickly colour as he vomited on my shoes.

Feedback
(Diagrams were created using Wordle - which makes words bigger based on frequency of response.)

Student Feedback 2011


Definitely working with students from other schools and getting advice from an author is something I would like to do again. I would definitely recommend this workshop to other students if it was offered again. I loved being involved in the workshop and it would be great if other students could share the passion of writing by having the same experiences. Yes, because it is so much fun and really improved my narrative writing skills. Yes, as this workshop helps broaden ones creativity and it is also a great opportunity in gaining new friends. Yes, because it was an amazing experience. Yes, it massively influenced and improved my writing. http://www.brisbanegrammar.com/blogs/library/?p=1149 Q1. What did you learn from the opportunity of working with an accomplished author? I learnt how to start every story with "what if.' I've learnt a lot from Brian, but the thing that will stay with me forever is the structure of the story. I've learnt a lot of story structures, but Brian's was different and fun and I will use it with other stories that I write. I learned how to write a story with an engaging plot and also how to form my characters over a space of time. Planning a story Opening lines I learnt some useful tips about the climax of the story and a lot about opening lines. Story Climax Character development Effective descriptions Stories are complicated to write and require effort I learnt that to produce a good story you have to think outside your comfort zone That authors are cool :) Accomplished writers are a little strange!

Q2 - What did you gain from the opportunity to work with other people your age who are also interested in writing creatively?

I think I learned a lot of new words, phrases and methods that I wouldn't have thought of. I now know that there are others like me who enjoy writing as much as I do, and who can write stories that I can go "that's brilliant, why didn't I think of that." Different ideas It was great working with the other writers. We share the same passion and I could really connect with them. I gained more knowledge from them. Accepting other peoples opinions and being helped by them. For the first time, writing has reached the heights of a team sport for me, and compromise and negotiation can be both good and bad. It was great Q3 - What was the most difficult of challenging aspect of the workshop? Getting started Working with a different scenario The time limit Finishing the story Meeting a deadline Editing Most students found groupwork difficult The most difficult aspect about the workshop was working in a group because not everything we talked about was agreed with In my opinion, the most challenging part of this workshop was attempting to collaborate our stories without meeting up with my other group members and asking their opinions. The most challenging part of the workshop was communicating with my group (my story had nothing to do with theirs). Q4 - In your opinion, what was the best aspect of the workshop? Working with an accomplished author. They all enjoyed Brian. Working with like minded peers Groupwork -some of the students who found this the most difficult, also found it the most beneficial The best aspect of the workshop was meeting new people who have a keen interest in writing and gaining new friends. Also it has been a great honour working with a well-known author such as Brian Falkner. Q5 - How has your writing changed since attending the workshop? More planning improved descriptions More structure Attempt different perspectives Improved dialogue Consider reader engagement More editing. I now realise why editing is important and why authors hate editors.

Q6 - Do you think the Wiki was a useful tool for a group of people working on a combined project? YES because easy to access Enabled students to communicate Could view each other's work NO because editing was difficult No spellcheck YES and NO because it was very interactive and NO because there were certain restrictions like no spellcheck Q7 - Would you recommend this workshop to other students if it was offered again? Fun Great to work with an author Improve creative writing Yes they will gain a lot from doing this workshop and it will really strengthen relationships between students and librarians

Parent Feedback 2011


What pleased you? Dynamic published author Collaborative school approach Workshop style Well planned program Teamwork Range of venues Opportunity for students to work with peer group sharing similar interests Including parents in opening and closing events Students grow in confidence High quality of end product Opportunity based on desire/passion for writing Required effort to achieve finished product Parent Feedback: What worked well? The opening night teacher librarians input, authors introduction and ice-breaker game Presentation evening showcasing writing and celebrating efforts Having time on holidays away from other commitments to complete writing The use of each location and transport provided Author related well to students Interaction between four schools Using technology wiki. Parent Feedback: What do you suggest we do differently next time? Wiki worthwhile but students werent clear on use as a communication tool more explanation needed Make presentation power point available on College websites More assistance with editing One more working session Give parents more information about the final written product 1 story with four contributors or four separate stories? Catering on final night Team story all four have to be committed or do individual stories Impetus & some enthusiasm lost on holidays

10

Author Feedback 2011


Fantastic! The enthusiasm of everyone concerned was wonderful to see. I really appreciated the effort put in by the teachers, and the energy and enthusiasm displayed by the students. The best aspect of the workshops was the ability to spend a number of days with the participants, developing their stories over a sustained period of time. Another excellent aspect was the final day, after they had had time to work on their stories over a number of weeks.What do you suggest we do differently next time? I dont really have any suggestions here. This would have been the best multi-day workshop with students that I have ever done. I felt it was a great success.

Student Feedback 2012


1. What did you learn from the opportunity of working with an accomplished author?

Num of m ber entions 1 0 8 6 4 2 0


E t ffor Cooper te a W itingsk r ills E diting W d Limit or H a ow uthor w ite s r S ucture tr

2. What did you learn from the opportunity to work with other people your age who are also interested in writing?

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
To le Ap ra pr nc ec e ia te Di ve rs ity Co nf id en t W rit in gi sf un Co lla bo ra te W rit in gs kil ls Lis te ni ng Hu m ili ty id ea s M or e

Num of m ber entions

3. What was the most difficult or challenging aspect of the workshop?

11

10 8 6 4 2 0 Com pletingon tim e E diting Wordlim it Colla bora tion O nline colla bora tion Num ofm ber entions

4. In your opinion, what was the best aspect of the workshop?

F reedomof writing topic Meeting other s tudentswho like writing Writing Author New people C ollaboration 0 5 1 0 1 5 20 25

Num of m ber entions


5. What will you take with you from the workshop?

5 4 3 2 1 0 Writing technique S tory E xperience F riends Appreciate litera ture Lea from rn mis k ta es

Number of mentions

6. How has your writing changed since attending the workshops? Students mentioned the following improvements relating to their writing: Description More interest Slow down Awareness Story Structure Confidence Open minded More mature Editing Concise Fluent

12

7. Will you seek other opportunities to engage in creative writing because of this workshop? Why? All said yes because it was fun, challenging and they learnt a lot. 8. Would you recommend this workshop to other students if it was offered again? ll said yes. 9. Do you think the wiki was a useful tool for a group of people working on a combined project? Why? 11 said yes. 2 said it was confusing and they received emails relating to other groups. Students liked being able to read other students' stories. 10. What suggestions would you make to improve this event?
6 5 4 3 2 1 0 F lexible word More writing Les briefing s lim it tim e Nothingperfect F lexible tim e lim its

Num ofm ber entions

Teacher feedback 2011


What worked well? The author, Brian Falkner was very enthusiastic and inspiring. He is a published author and the students respected his ability. The team. This was a great way to work together with other teacher librarians. We were doing something collaborative, not competitive. Involving a team took the pressure off one school doing all the organising. What didnt work? Some aspects of the wiki Permission was blocked for students with Hotmail addresses. There was no spell- checker. Text created in Word and pasted into the wiki often had trouble with formatting. We needed to first demonstrate how to use the wiki to comment on other students work, and to message each other. Not all groups pushed the boundaries We wanted to extend the students out of their comfort zones. Not all felt comfortable to work with other students ideas. Not all were happy to write about the character that was allocated to them, so they wrote a story they felt comfortable with. This wont be allowed next time. The length of the stories Students wrote too much one story was 15 pages long! There needs to be a definite length set from the beginning to encourage precise writing. It took a lot of time for the author to read all of the stories. The amount of time to edit Editing was very time- consuming. It was difficult to contact students from other schools after the workshop.

Teacher feedback 2012


What worked well Individual final story product, though based on group collaboration. Use of wiki, especially with spellcheck and comment function. Compulsory shared scenario. Author and story writing skills What didnt work? Storyline- cards - need similar stories, Some stories not as engaging eg parrots. Chat on wiki, some groups great, but not all Quality of editing Rules for editing others work on the wiki Publishing issue when story not student's own choice and made to do it - may not want to publsih in public More student reflection, evaluation of writing quality, self assessment Attendance at all nights

13

It was difficult to find time to meet with the other TLs. The winning individual story's profile should be raised Groups need another meeting after Easter as it is a big ask for them to collaborate online entirely after the two day workshop Editing still too onerous - impacts on book production Book production is onerous for teaching staff- need students to do this Difficult to contact students from other schools after the workshop

Parent feedback 2012


16 responses, including 5 from boys' schools. 2 responses school not completed All responses said it was a very worthwhile event. What worked well? Enjoyable Timing over the holidays Mentor Challenging Son fully engaged Coeducational Working with an author Well run Wiki Excellent concept Working with peers with similar interest First night information, separating parent and students Working with students from other schools Group work Learning about writing and Editing Having their work published Parent participation at both ends Parent events were well organised What do you suggest we do differently next time? Expectation of amount of communication during writing unclear Some students were texting instead of using the wiki - may be useful to encourage use of one means Parent willing to contribute financially Parent progress update halfway through Writing was time consuming Lost momentum over holidays Perhaps each school could meet with its members Get students together again after they had had one or two week to work on their stories (2 responses) More group sessions Slow down explanation of technology for parents Extend to older students Better supervision of group dynamics Holidays in the middle Allocate a staff member to assist with group negotiation when it becomes difficult as some students will not negotiate The non face-to-face parts were a struggle for some students

Data Analysis
This inquiry has promoted reflection on these workshops. While feedback has been obtained each year; this inquiry has highlighted the need for easily measurable feedback, such as by the moodle questionnaire function that can be replicated and compared. Over the 2 years, the data analysis was prepared by different people and has been somewhat informal. This inquiry shows the need for constructing feedback tools as part of the learning process, and using this feedback with students. This inquiry has highlighted the importance of learning design in achieving learning outcomes. While, these workshops have been very successful, this inquiry reveals that learning can be further extended. While teachers involved have striven to improve these workshops over the 2 years, research indicates that a more structured

14

approach will increase the learning from these activities. The research and feedback indicate that learning by design strategies will support collaboration, writing and other learning outcomes.

Wiki
The PBworks comment section revealed a lot about student collaboration, even though some groups also used texting. The idea of having a group home page for clarifying the characters and shared plot was an improvement this year. The wiki conversation indicate a need to include guidelines about the kind of help students should give each other, negotiation skills, and writing and interacting expectations outside the face to face workshops. However, the wikis make visible the learning that was occurring from the collaboration and that the collaborative wiki encouraged students to reflect on their writing and seek improvement from other team members.

Conclusion
Applicability to wider school contexts
The students selected were motivated writers, but research indicates that the collaborative and technology aspects are likely to create appeal for reluctant writers. However, the use of a wiki and shared scenarios could be applied to the classroom context. Once the resources are created, the workshop framework and resources could be used repeatedly by other classes. This creates a very student centred writing environment. Research indicates that clear goals, scaffolds, structures and checklists will improve outcomes. Also, teacher modelling at intervention points will promote learning. Using a student centred approach frees the teacher to conference with students on their writing progress. The wiki facilitates peer feedback, sharing of writing progress and provision of an authentic audience. The wiki retains all revision history, so teachers can monitor input. If collaboration is part of the learning task, then this needs to be structured so teachers ensure comments and participation expectations are clear. Examples of this structuring include use of questionnaires and pairing students for peer feedback, with specification of minimum amounts and type of feedback. However, it must be kept in mind, that these feedback elements would add to the task complexity and time required for students to complete them.

Originality
The use of a final individual story removes many of the shortfalls of group work, while allowing collaboration on the story plot, there also needs to be clarity that the story must be original. It is advisable that this is made clear to students and why cutting and pasting another student's writing is not acceptable.

Technology
It is important to ensure students are supported in using the wiki and communication options.

Organisation
Some students were unable to attend the final night due to a school camp, so feedback was not obtained from them. Some students who did attend failed to take the feedback forms seriously, and these had to be redone. Two thousand words is still too long for quality editing. Also, some schools wanted a high quality of editing so the book has not yet been complete. In 2011, one print book was completed for the winning group. More books were not completed due to difficulties with further editing, once the live workshop finished. Changes are needed to involve students in the book creation and to overcome the editing issue. Another option may be online publication only, rather than print and online, so the books are only available to the students and their personal contacts who are given the URL, rather than a print version to be held in school libraries - creating pressure on edit quality.

Collaboration
It is important that students are supported in learning skills to work collaboratively as this will reduce conflict and promote learning. Collaborative skills need explicit support.

Professional Development
While teachers have skills in group work, many are not familiar with teaching using online collaborative modes. The provision of professional development would assist teachers in better understanding how to design group learning experiences to ensure that learning design that best achieves outcomes.

15

Further Research and Implications for Practice


The use of the wiki with a collaborative scenario, but an individual final story, promotes learning of group skills, while reducing many of the pitfalls. The comment feature on the wiki opens greater avenues for peer review. The creation of digital tools for collecting feedback, and use of the wiki for comments and drafting mean that visible evidence and feedback on student learning can be obtained. A much more structured approach to the workshop, in terms of expectations, scaffolds and obtaining of feedback will promote further improvements in learning design. Further research needs to be more quantitative rather than qualitative; so that improvements can be better measured. The research on similar studies provided many resources for obtaining improved feedback (see References list.) However, the appropriate use of a collaborative wiki writing model with integrated feedback, is likely to assist improvement in writing outcomes Group assessment requires effective instructional design and is highly challenging, but extremely beneficial. Projects such as this where teachers can work as teams, and where learning experiences are repeated, allow opportunities for further reflection and improvement. Learning design needs to consider sustainability in terms of teacher and student time demands. Success of online and group learning is especially dependent on preplanning and a feedback cycle, and requires awareness and time to address the many complexities e.g. time is needed for improving group learning skills. Online technologies, such as wikis, create opportunities to better develop and assess collaboration skills, providing technology access is adequate. James, R et al (2002) summarizes the need for group work to be well designed: Group work, under proper conditions, encourages peer learning and peer support and many studies validate the efficacy of peer learning. Under less than ideal conditions, group work can become the vehicle for acrimony, conflict and freeloading.

References
ACARA (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority). (2012, January). General Capabilites in the Australian Curriculum. Retrieved October 28, 2012, from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Overview/General-capabilities-in-the-Australian-Curriculum Chin, B. (2000) The Role Of Grammar In Improving Student's. Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.uwplatt.edu/~ciesield/graminwriting.htm CTE LESSON PLANS (2011) Assertion and Conflict Resolution. Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.uen.org/Lessonplan/preview.cgi?LPid=28910 Quiz and other resources to improve student communication and group skills, and identify communication style. Davies, W. (2009, March 20). Groupwork as a form of assessment: common problemsand recommended solutions. Retrieved October 28, 2012, from http://www.academia.edu/448870/Groupwork_as_a_Form_of_Assessment_Common_Problems_and_Recommended_S olutions Dennen, V. (n.d) Designing Peer Feedback Opportunities into Online Learning Experiences by Vanessa Paz, Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.uwex.edu/disted/conference/Resource_library/proceedings/03_02.pdf Dotson, J. M. (2001). Cooperative Learning Structures Can Increase Student Achievement. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from Kagan Online Magazine, Winter: http://www.kaganonline.com/free_articles/research_and_rationale/increase_achievement.php Dudley-Marling, C. & Paugh, P. C. (2009). A Classroom Teachers Guide to StrugglingWriters. Portsmouth, NJ: Heinemann. Ewing, T(2010) Discussion Boards and Boys Writing. Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.theibsc.org/uploaded/IBSC/Action_Reseach/IBSC_Boys&Writing_V1.pdf Fletcher, R. (2006). Boy Writers: Reclaiming their voices. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers. Gedera, D. S. P. (2011). Integration of weblogs in developing language skills of ESL learners. International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 7 (2), 124-135. Retrieved September 26, 2012 from, http://waikato.academia.edu/DilaniPahalaGedera/Papers/1491023/Integration_of_Weblogs_in_Developing_Language_S kills_of_ESL_Learners

16

Graham, G. (2012, April 11). Why I No Longer Use Groups in the Classroom: Retrieved April 16, 2012, from http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2012/04/11/fp_graham.html? tkn=WLPFdTuga2reCM2G5KEtyYE80mq6o8PCPcxo&cmp=ENL-TU-NEWS1 Edwards-Groves, C. ( 2012 ). Interactive Creative Technologies: Changing learning practices and pedagogies in the writing classroom. Journal of Language, Vol 35 Issue 1 , 99-113. NEWS1 Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.alea.edu.au/documents/item/348. Frey, N., & Fisher, D. (2010, September). Making Group Work Productive. Retrieved October 28, 2012, from Giving Students Meaningful Work: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-

leadership/sept10/vol68/num01/Making-Group-Work-Productive.aspx
Hume, A. (2009). Promoting higher levels of reflective writing in student journals. Higher Education Research & Development, 28(3), 247260. James, A. (2007). Teaching the Male Brain: How boys think, feel and learn in school. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

James, R., McInnis, C., & Devlin, M. (2002, September). Assessing Group Work. Retrieved October 28, 2012, from Assessing Learning in Australian universities:

http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/assessinglearning/docs/Group.pdf
Kessler, G. (2009) Student Initiated Attention to Form in Wiki Based Collaborative Writing. Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://llt.msu.edu/vol13num1/kessler.pdf Laird, T. & Kuh, G.. (2005). Student experiences with information technology and their relationship to other aspects of student engagement. Research in Higher Education, 46(2), 211-233. doi: 10.1007/s 11162-0041600-y Li, Xuanxi; Chu, Samuel Kai Wah; Ki, Wing Wah; Woo, Matsuko: Using a Wiki-Based Collaborative Process Writing Pedagogy to Facilitate Collaborative Writing among Chinese Primary School Students : Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, v28 n1 p159-181 2012 Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet28/li.pdf Panitz, T. (nd). Collaborative Versus Cooperative Learning A Comparison. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from TEDs Articles:http://home.capecod.net/~tpanitz/tedsarticles/coopdefinition.htm Prince George's County Schools (n.d.) A Guide to Cooperative Learning Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.pgcps.pg.k12.md.us/~elc/learning1.html Contains role examples and other cooperative learning strategies. Rish, R. (2011) Engaging Adolescents Interests, Literacy Practices, and Identities: Digital Collaborative Writing of Fantasy Fiction in a High School English Elective Class. Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://kennesaw.academia.edu/RyanRish/Books/975932/Engaging_adolescents_interests_literacy_practices_and_identit ies_Digital_collaborative_writing_of_fantasy_fiction_in_a_high_school_English_elective_class Sabornie, E.J. & deBettencourt, L.U. (2004). Teaching Students with Mild and High-Incidence Disabilities at the Secondary Level, Second Edition. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education. Smithson, M. (2008) Academic Effects of Writing Workshop Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/doctoral/110/ Teaching Good Communication Skills In The Classroom (n.d.) Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.essortment.com/teaching-good-communication-skills-classroom-36140.html Site has activities for improving communication skills.

Snelling, C., & Karanicolas, S. (2008). Why Wikis Work: assessing group work in an online environment. Retrieved October 28, 2012, from http://www.ojs.unisa.edu.au/index.php/atna/article/view/298/276
Woo, M., Chu, S., Ho, A., and Li, X., (2011) Using a Wiki to Scaffold Primary-School Students Collaborative Writing. Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.ifets.info/journals/14_1/5.pdf Writing Process: Go Google Visible thinking techniques Retrieved September 26, 2012 from https://docs.google.com/document/d/1N4VVCDo23PrlHHVRrB3j_GtpgkcpdV89H2kK_YiS55g/edit and http://geekcamp.c2e.org/camp-sessions/writing-process-and-reflection-go-google

17

Appendix A

(Li et al. 2012)

Appendix B

(Rish, R. 2011)

18

19

20

21

22

23

From Appendices Questionnaire for teachers Please finish the questionnaire within 20 minutes. We will keep all the information you provide to us completely confidential. Thanks. Name: _____________ Gender:__________ Age: ___________ 1. What challenges and issues did you face when using a wiki to orchestrate the collaborative writing activities in your class? 2. How did you deal with the challenges and issues encountered? 3. From your observation, what is/are students response(s) regarding group writing using a wiki? a. Compared to the

ir traditional individual writing, do these students become more interested in their writing when doing it using a wiki? b. What kinds of difficulties did your students encounter in using a wiki for their writing? c. How did the students manage to overcome them? And what kind of assistance did you offer to them? 4. What observable improvement in writing ability, if any, did you see in the students work compared to their previous writing without using a wiki? 5. How does wikis tracking system help you provide support during the editing process in collaborative writing? What kind of support did you provide? 6. How would you define your role regarding the whole process of students collaborative writing?

24

7. Did your students show improvement in other abilities other than their writing ability? For example, reading ability, IT ability, knowledge management, collaboration ability, etc.? 8. From your perspective, what are your perceived benefits gained by the students through this mode of learning using a wiki? 9. Will you continue to use the wiki-based collaborative process writing pedagogy in the future? Why? 10. Any other comments? Semi-structured interview questions to students 1. Compared with writing with paper and pencil, do you like writing in joyous writing club more? Why? 2. Do you think you can learn a lot from your peers in the collaborative writing process? What have you learned? 3. Do you think the different opinions of your group members will affect the writing result? Why? 4. Do you think you still want to write Chinese collaboratively next semester? 5. Do you think the collaborative writing approach can help you improve your writing better,compared with a traditional writing approach? 6. Do you think teachers guidance is very important in the collaborative writing process? What other help do you need from the teacher? 7. Since you can receive evaluation and comments from your group members when you write collaboratively with the wiki, do you think it is better than only receiving comments from your Chinese teacher? 8. Since there is a larger audience who can view your article when you write composition on the wiki, do you think this is an advantage of using wiki that can help you write composition more efficiently? When you write a composition on the wiki, do you think the communication among your classmates is very helpful for your writing? 10. Do you think the writing activities and the writing ability of each group member in your group will affect the writing result significantly? 11. Do you think the instructional design will affect the writing result significantly? For instance, how to group students? How will group members collaborate with each other? 12. What advantages does wiki-based collaborative process writing pedagogy have in your experience? 13. What disadvantages does wiki-based collaborative process writing pedagogy have in your experience? Elementary school high-grade narrative scoring criteria Proportion of components: (full score is 30 points) 1. Topic - 5%, 1.5 points. 2. Ideas - 25%, 7.5 points. 3. Content - 30%, 9 points. 4. Organisation - 10%, 3 points. 5. Sentence fluency - 20%, 6 points. 6. Punctuation and spelling - 10%, 3 points; one incorrect character/punctuation is 0.5 points. First Level Standard: (27-30 points) 1. Topic: The topic of the composition is appropriate. 2. Ideas: The writing ideas are healthy, clear and focused with a central theme completely. 3. Content: Details support the theme. The description is vivid and the content can capture the readers interests. Besides, the content has intrinsic value. 4. Organisation: Information is presented in clear sequence, making connections and transitions among sentences and paragraphs. 5. Sentence fluency: The writer develops smooth flow and rhythm in sentences. Text has a natural, fluent sound; with a combination of simple, compound, and complex sentences beginning in a variety of ways throughout the text; with good use of Chinese idioms, rhetoric, and proverbs. 6. Punctuation and spelling: The writer uses correct punctuation, capitalisation and grammar.

25

The writer uses correct spelling. The composition has enough characters.

26

Appendix C

(Gedera, D. S. P. 2011)

Image below is from http://sam2010eee.blogspot.com.au/2010/03/peer-feedback-guidelines.html (see editing section, article by Gedera)

27