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Collaboration on the web to foster genuine communication

Collaboration is an integral part of writing and communications processes; hence the page on Writing and Composition and Projects for Collaboration Online

On this page: Time zones | Web 2.0 collaboration tools | Client software | Tips | Inter-class Collaboration | Keypals
Moved elsewhere: Publishing student writing on the web | Collaborative writing | More collaboration projects

To collaborate on a world scale, you'll need to know time zones. Try one of these:

Some recent (2006) interesting Web 2.0 and Open Source collaboration tools:

Croquet: "The Croquet project is an effort to develop a new open source computer operating system built from the ground up to enable deep collaboration between teams of users. To do this, the project seeks to define and develop a system is focused on the simulation and communication of complex ideas. We call this "communication enhancement" - the direct extension of the abilities of humans to develop, understand, and describe even the most complex simulations. Croquet enables this communication by acting as the equivalent of a broadband conferencing system built on top of a 3D user interface and a peer-to-peer network architecture. Through the public release of this software technology, we are seeking to harness the creative power of thousands of software developers and seed the development of transformative technologies."

Festoon: "You don't need the same email program or phone service to send emails or call others. Festoon Unity is the first to bring that ease, simplicity and reach to Instant Messaging by enabling you to video and voice call any group of users on any IM service. You can also share anything you see on your screen, even your entire desktop! Festoon's immersive EyeCandy video personalizations which include funhouse mirrors, motion colors, and crazy cutouts add fun to your video experience, much like cell phone ringtones. Whether you use Skype or Google Talk for business or to connect with family and friends, now you can show a presentation, work on a spreadsheet, share photos, or just have fun online while seeing everyone in the call!"

Imagination Cubed:, a simple collaborative drawing tool. Easy interface.

Zoho Creator: "a free online service to create and share web applications with just a few mouse clicks ... handy when you want to - Create web applications on your own. - Create applications in minutes, not days. - Share the applications with your friends, colleagues and clients easily. What can I do with Zoho Creator? You can: - Create applications from scratch without coding - Browse public applications, copy and customize to suit your needs - Add one-or-more Forms and Views to a page - Create sophisticated Views with pre-set criteria - View data in Calendar format - Share application with your friends, colleagues and clients"

From the Web 1.0 days, the following cited prior to August 2005:

You'll also probably want to use CMC (computer mediated communications) tools. These can be synchronous (in real time, like instant messagers) or asynchronous (not in real time, such as forums and email). I am maintaining information on such tools elsewhere on my site, all retrieved February 19, 2004 from:

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Inter-Class Communication and Collaboration via the Web

Chain stories:

For information on collaboration projects more specific to writing, surf here <--

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Designed specifically for e-mail

Other projects:

Tom Robb's E-Mail Keypals for Language Fluency

Update August 2005

The SL Project ( has been in operation now for over 10 years now, mainly has a method for university-level and adult EFL learners to communicate on topics of mutual interest.

The Project also has an area called TeenTalk for Secondary Students that has not been very active recently. Now there are two classes of students from different areas of Norway who will be starting, and it would be wonderful if there were students from other regions that they could share their experiences with.

If you have a class that could participate, I encourage you to join in on the fun. You can inspect the various forums by creating your own user account, following the instructions on the site. The Teachers' Forum area requires an "enrollment key" which is "jointchr". That forum explains the project in detail and lists the enrollments keys that the student need to join any of the topic areas. Please feel free to contact me for further details. I can mass-enroll entire classes if you provide me with an Excel spreadsheet with columns for their first name, last name, and e-mail addresses.

Cheers, Tom Robb

(Update from September 2004):

The Student List Project is still up and running and looking for participants for the new term. Essentially, the SL Project provides a way for your students to discuss topics of mutual interest in a 1-to-many situation rather than the normal penpal 1-on-1. Your students can join any of the forums listed below, read what has already been posted and reply to whatever postings stir their imagination. They receive copies of all postings for the forums that they subscribe to by e-mail, but can also view all previous postings via the web interface.

The project uses Moodle, an innovative student management system. This allows you, as an instructor, to view all of your own students' postings so that you can give timely advice to them as needed.

Currently we have the following topic areas, each with its own ESL professional as a facilitator:

For University and Adult Learners

For Immigrants & new residents

For Secondary School Learners

If you are interested, you can either

  1. Login in to with user name 'preview' and pw 'teacher' to view the set-up anonymously OR
  2. set up an account (confirmation will be sent via e-mail to the address you give) and then join the "Teachers' Forum". You will find information and advice there on how to use the project effectively with your students, as well as the "enrollment keys" that you need to give them so that they can gain access to the topic areas. The enrollment key for the Teachers' Forum is: jointeacher

Please contact Tom Robb directly if you have any questions or suggestions. Compose your email to trobb and then one of those @ signs followed by

Robb, Tom's 1996 article (since updated) "E-mail Keypals for Language Fluency" discusses the strengths & weaknesses of the SL List approach to the traditional one-on-one keypay approach.

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Last updated: January 10, 2007

Copyright 2007 by Vance Stevens
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January 10, 2007

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