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Telling Tales Together: 4 Great Collaborative Writing Tools

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By Sara Bernard

Storytelling is taking on all kinds of new forms in the Web 2.0 era. Now, thanks to a range of new software, students can not only flex their writing wings, but do it together,  by creating group-led e-books, fictional stories, blogs, op-eds, and petitions, and, in some cases, see their edits and additions. Collaboratively producing a finished product that's full of the trappings of its process can be pretty exciting.

To that end, here are a handful of examples of collaborative writing tools with classroom applications. Of course, these can be used outside the classroom, too.

MixedInk: MixedInk, a free online interface that allows users to work collaboratively on anything from fiction to mission statements, recently launched a slew of education-related features. At, the software is beefed up with classroom-specific tools, such as authorship tracking, realtime suggestions (students can comment on one another's work as it appears), and peer evaluation.

Protagonize: Users can write an entire book collaboratively on this site -- either by starting their own or adding to an existing story's draft. Signing up is free, and comments are easy, so students can offer constructive feedback to their classmates' work as well as "rate" the site's existing content. There are also plenty of opportunities to network with other writers and gather resources, tips, and constructive criticism.


Glypho: This is a landing site for group writing of fictional stories with a very simple structure: One user uploads his or her story idea, another writes the first chapter or installment, others write different versions of that chapter or installment, and then users review and vote on their favorites. From there, the story moves on. It's a great way for students to collaborate not only with their classmates, but with peers across the globe.

Novlet:  This one focuses on what it calls "non-linear" story writing, and is similar in structure to Glypho: different users submit different versions or installments of a piece of writing and then vote on the most compelling. Novlet's installments are called "passages," usually just a few paragraphs long, and can be written in any language, which makes it a fun resource for a foreign language class.

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