I'm gearing up to do my first collaborative writing assignment - group writing conclusions to an experiment. I know Etherpad is now OOS, but I found http://primarypad.com/ which has the same look and feel. http://piratepad.net/ is the same but I can't tell if it's going away with Etherpad?

I read a blog entry at Free Tech 4 Teachers about pre-populating a prompt: students will be in groups of 3-4 and each group needs its own pad. What are your tips, suggestions for making this first time use happy and effective?


Tags: collaborative, etherpad, piratepad, primarypad, writing

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Hi there,
All of the Etherpad "clones" are available here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etherpad#Clones

I am partial to iEtherpad because it most closely resembles the "old Etherpad" which my students are used to using.

Here are a few classroom management tips:
1. Put students in small groups. Anything larger than 5 becomes hard for students to follow and contribute meaningfully.
2. Create the links ahead of time and store them in an easy-to-access way for students. Also, click on each link and put in the task that students are required to do. Then they do not have to toggle between multiple screens to complete the assignment. All students have to do is click on the appropriate link!
3. Teach students about the uses for the document area and the uses for the chat area. In my classroom, we always use the chat to "talk about what we are going to write." We use the document area to actually draft the document. For some students, I"ll actually give them an outline and they "flesh it out" by dividing up the work and creating the text.
4. Show students how the "editing timeline" works. This can help all students to become valuable contributors.

I hope this helps. Let me know how it goes. Good luck!

Thanks for your help! I hadn't thought of using the chat window to discuss prior to writing.

I notice all the clones of Etherpad seem identical. I understand creating each link for a new public pad, store them as a google doc or post to a class wiki? Then each member of the group clicks the link they're assigned to and fills in their name to begin chatting & writing? I'm looking forward to trying it out!
Sounds like you've got it! Definitely let me know how it goes!

Remember- you can create your own pad names by typing in the name you desire.

i.e. http://etherpad.com/name you want

If that name is available, you can create a pad for it. This could help you students access the pad without a direct link if necessary. :)
Kristen thank you for the link to the Eherpad clones.

Can iEtherpad be used by students of any age?
To my knowledge, yes! There is no log-in required.
Thank you for such a quick reply Kristen!

I see there is no log-in required - I am just a bit paranoid about who uses what!

13 seems to be the magic age often! Our UK Year 7 students are all 11-12 so I am careful with what I point them to!
Nice - I didn't realize you do that by deleting their page code http://ietherpad.com/zoLNxaxNCF, typing in a new identifier http://ietherpad.com/jane and if it's available, it's created!
Hi, Kristen,

I checked http://etherpad.com/name and saw students' blogs going back to 2009. I wonder what do you
do when they make different negative comments?

The results are sort of in - I actually used this to enhance a lesson that another teacher taught. I was not able to be in the classroom during the use. I found the set up of iEtherpad really easy. It took me about 20 minutes to set up 30 identical pads (each with a distinct group name) with the instructions and prompt pasted in.

As far as I can tell, the students either didn't get the preuse warning that everything was recorded, or didn't believe it. There were a few cases of inappropriate dialogue but what's interesting is that some one in the group always corrected the peer. Does anyone have better suggestions for how to avoid misuse? It's probably practice and disciplining the first offense so students know we are paying attention?

It also seemed that the teacher did not disperse the members of the groups around the computer lab so it may have made the purpose of the task less significant or engaging because they could just talk to each other.

It was also fascinating to be able to scan through the chat dialogues and really evaluate who understood the task and how well. You immediately know who is contributing and who is absent. I noticed a lot of kids used pseudonyms and I'm not sure if the cooperating teacher suggested it or allowed it, but I suppose just a first name is sufficient for protecting their privacy?

In the end, this first attempt was not very successful, but I would definitely try again especially if it were with my students and my own classes.

Thanks for all the feedback and support!
Collabedit is another tool that works much like Etherpad and primary pad. I haven't used it yet, but plan on doing so tomorrow in class to see how it works.
I worked in my classes today with several different platforms. The first was collabedit. It was a nightmare. Everytime students would type a few lines, they just suddenly disappeared. We tried for a bit to get it to work, but then switched.

The next platform was Primarypad. It was a little better, but it kept disconnecing, and when it did, some of the student work word disappear. So, we switched again.

This time we used Piratepad. It worked great. I have had four classes use it today without much trouble. As far as I can tell, though it is powered by Etherpad, there are no warnings of it going down any time soon.

We used Piratepad today to put together research that the students have been doing on Shakespeare. They all did individual research for the last several days, and now they are putting it together in a usable document. It has been a good lesson in collaboration and for the first period when we were trying to get things to work, a lesson in patience.
Thanks for the feedback. I will go with Pirate Pad from now on. :)



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