Monday, December 03, 2018

Online Team Collaboration: Using Wikis to enhance students’ writing skills
 (by Erivelton Pereira Soares)

Why do we teach writing?
According to Harmer (2004, p.79), “the reasons for teaching writing [...] include reinforcement, language development, learning style and, most importantly, writing as a skill in its own right”. Therefore, we should keep in mind students need this reinforcement because they will probably be dealing with it in the future somehow.
Online Team Collaboration
My experience with writing in an online team collaboration tool came from when I was a student at CTJ. My teacher, José Antônio, created this collaborative space in a platform called PBworks, which is also known as a wiki. Mak and Coniam (2008, p.439) explain that a wiki “is a piece of software that allows users to freely create and edit the content of web pages.”
What Mak and Coniam describe is exactly what we did in the classroom. Although we were still in the basic course, the teacher would assign a piece of writing, we would do a pre-writing activity which usually consisted on brainstorming ideas and then we would go to the computer lab to produce our pieces of writing.
Because students would produce in pairs and sometimes the whole group would have to contribute to produce it, it was fun and at the same time it also brought a good feeling that the final product was good due to the result of everybody’s efforts.
I can totally say it helped me develop my writing skills because collaborating with other students enabled me to observe language patterns that I normally would never use if I were to write it individually.
Comparing this experience to the one I have now as a teacher, I always think of ways in which students can collaborate and enjoy writing itself. So, most of the pre-writing tasks are done either in pairs or small groups. Although I have not used wikis with my students yet, I do intend doing it in a near future. I am still planning and understanding how different platforms work such as google docs, blogs, PBworks and so on, so that they have a better achievement.
     MAK, B., CONIAM, D. Using wikis to enhance and develop writing skills among secondary school students in Hong Kong. 2008. p. 437-455.

     HARMER, Jeremy. How to teach English. Longman, 2004.


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