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Monday, August 31, 2015

My Two Ground Rules for Collaboratively Taking Notes

Earlier today I pushed a post about using MeetingWords as a collaborative note-taking tool. In that post I mentioned the need for setting some rules for students to follow during a collaborative note-taking session. Through trial and error over the years I've developed a few ground rules that help collaborative note-taking be a better experience for all involved. These are the two ground rules that I use with students.

1. Yes, it is possible to write over or correct a classmate's note, but don't do it without consulting him or her first. Use the chat feature (present in Google Docs and MeetingWords) to suggest a change to the person whose note you wish to change.

Making students ask each other before changing a note does two things. First, it prevents students from getting frustrated by having a classmate delete work without asking. Second, it facilitates conversation about what is or isn't an important note to record.

2. Use your real name. I want to know who has added what to the document. Your classmates want to know who they can talk to regarding a note.

Contributing to a notes document is different than participating in a backchannel chat in which I might just be looking for anonymous questions from students or anonymous responses to my prompts. In a collaboratively created document I want to see names so I know who is contributing, who is not, who needs help, and who is with me.