MixedInk – affordances for collaboration?

From the always useful Jane's elearning picks I came across MixedInk. It's a tool to promote collaboration to produce joint documents. Before you raise eyebrows and say 'not another one,' bear with me. It has some neat features – you are working towards a definite goal document, it has time limits to focus effort, but most intriguingly it positively wants you to take and adapt the text of other writers. As you type it finds similar phrases from other contributers, and you can add these in. Each submission can be voted on, so you can see which are the most popular/useful. And then when the document is finalised it shows which writers contributed each element.

This has collaborative assessment written all over it. You can easily imagine setting a group assignment and using MixedInk to produce it. Students can jointly create the document, and the role of each contributer is clearly visible. This is beginning to get at creating real affordances for collaboration, which are often lacking in the standard wiki. By suggesting other bits of text the tool is encouraging plagiarism, but in a good way. Using tools like this will be the way we can make assessment relevant to learners who work collaboratively in every other sphere of their lives.

I am about to try and kick of an experiment in crowdsourcing, mass contribution around understanding learning in a 2.0/participatory/digital/social world, so I've set up a quick trial with MixedInk to try and determine what the key questions are – I'll blog more about this later, but if you fancy having a play with MixedInk, here is my big education questions doc.

And here is the company's video explaining the technology:

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MixedInk Demo from MixedInk on Vimeo.

2 Comments

  1. Agree with the affordances you mention, but I use e-logs with students to assess their contributions and they use forums or wikis to work collaboratively. The goal is set by the assignment and individual work is recorded in logs and collaboration takes place in f2f or forum environment.
    Constructivist methods encourages collaborative work but also group feedback. One issue with collaborative tools is that you loose on the ability to provide a personalised feedback to all students as their work develops. One tends to give group feedback in such implementations. Giving individual support sounds time consuming, but with e-logs i only ever get 5-6 posts for a class of 60. So my students get a personalised feedback and yet work collaboratively. Additionally the group feedback is not reqeeuired any longer. With proper tools you can create wehat I call an “eGurukul”, where constructivist activities take place yet the presence of the Expert/ Guru is at a personal level (as in gurukuls) via e-logs and also at a group level (as in any constructivist activity)via forums if needed. This has changed things for me, especially in PBL implementations where passangers are a real issue in group work.

  2. Thanks for the tip. I think I’ll try this one when possible. Team work is great for some things, but it’s never easy in educational contexts, with grades involved, to avoid some taking advantage of the work of others. This might help a bit in that respect.

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