Recently I was discussing how to actively involve people in conference workshops. I was at one session at the ACEC conference where the presenter had all those present join an on-line space to share information about their experiences with technology in the classroom.
EtherPad was the name of a tool my colleague came up with and I know a few people who were advocates of the real-time document collaboration platform EtherPad. EtherPad itself no longer exists (after it bought and shut down by Google) but, as is often the case, some similar services have popped-up. One that has been brought to my attention via the RedFerret blog is TitanPad.
TitanPad will provide a free platform for real-time document collaboration. It seems to be very similar to the original EtherPad with anyone using TitanPad able to instantly create a collaborative document. You do not have to create an account to use TitanPad, in fact creating an account isn’t offered as an option.
- Click on “create public pad,” (a window will appear with a document space)
- enter your name and
- start typing.
You can then invite your colleagues/students to collaborate by just sharing the unique URL, assigned to the TitanPad space you have created, with them using email, instant messaging services.
Note: Make sure that everyone understands that the only way to keep any open TitanPads private is to safeguard their URL and it is for this reason private information should not be shared.
Every collaborator on TitanPad is given their own (unique) color to highlight the text they’ve added and can even be given a label or name. It also allows for each line entered by a collaborator to have a different number for easier reference. When anyone adds or edits something in the document, the changes are instantly reflected on everyone’s screen. There is also a chat option so you can give comments or advice to any of the group members.
At the end of the session the work can be saved and exported as an HTML, plain text, bookmarked file, Microsoft Word, PDF, or OpenDocument format. You can go back to the work as it allows different revisions to be documented and a time slider is provided to show when such revisions are made.
Applications for schools, classrooms and workshops
As accounts aren’t necessary so you don’t lose any classroom or meeting time getting colleagues or students online through a long registration process.
TitanPad could be quickly created for hosting and recording any online brainstorming session with students, collaborating as a group in project-based learning, to keeping a teacher aware of group progress and to allow for communication beyond school times and walls. It might also be a good platform for interviewing experts on a topic.
Teachers could use it to collaborate in curriculum planning, working on text documents, keeping meeting notes, and drafting plans.
I think that this would also work for some of the hands-on workshops at some of our SLAV conferences and branch meetings. What an easy way to share our experiences!