Synchronous, collaborative text creation

Using shared documents technology for collaboration – a linguistic perspective with didactic implications.

Franz Steinberger 

(Betreuung: Prof. Dr. Angela Hahn)

Duration: 2013 (ongoing).

The project focuses on the very core of Web 2.0 (or The Social Web or The Participative Web etc.): collaboration – synchronous, collaborative text creation. Collaborative text creation in general (both analogue and digital) is not a new phenomenon: sending different versions of one document back and forth via e-mail is common practice in the real world. Simultaneous collaborative text editing, however, has only become possible and feasible through the use of Web 2.0 technology. GoogleDocs, Office 365 (since June 2013) and Etherpad are probably the best-known representatives of this type of technology – each with their respective advantages and disadvantages.

I strongly believe that digital, synchronous, collaborative text creation is an entirely new way of working together and therefore not a God-given skill. I am particularly interested in the types of interaction, the negotiation of meaning and the linguistic nature of the final product. The survey will be carried out with German students in an English for medical purposes course, who collaboratively create patient advice in groups of 2-4 using synchronous shared documents technology.

Such a survey naturally cries for didactic implications, which shall be considered but not be the centre of attention; to me, collaboration is key but not limited to educational purposes.