Collaborative Document Tools for the 3Cs

I recently came across three document collaboration/publishing tools that I want to share. Both of these tools would be great for students to use inside and outside of the classroom. I think these tools represent what I refer to as the 3C’s of digital literacy: Communicative, Collaborative, and Creative.

EtherPad markets themselves as the “only web-based word processor that allows people to work together in really real-time.” I was introduced to EtherPad by David Jakes (@djakes) at the METC 2010 Conference. What I think is a great feature about EtherPad is that there is no sign-up required by the teacher or students. A public pad is created and students can start a collaborative writing project instantly. The pad has an exclusive link to be shared right away. An EtherPad document is limited to a maximum of 17 users, so if you have more than 17 students you might want to divide students up into groups to work on their documents. What I like it that each user can be easily identified by name and also by a specific text color. Multiple document types can be imported directly into EtherPad and the document can be exported in multiple formats. Be sure and check out the Saved Revisions and the Time Slider to see the evolution of the document and student participation levels.

Import/Export Options, Saved Revisions, and the Time Slider


CrocoDoc is a little different from EtherPad in a couple of ways. First, documents cannot be created directly from within the web app. They have to be imported from the computer or on the web somewhere else on the web. Second, not only can you collaborate and edit PDFs and Word documents, but CrocoDoc will also take PowerPoint presentations. The markup tools used are stickie notes, a highlighter, strikeout text, and add additional text. Specific pages can be shared via an exclusive link. Those you share the link with can not only view but also edit by default. A pro account is required ($36 per year) for added security features and support. Be sure to check out their demo document to get a feel for the interface before signing up.

A great document publishing web app

Issuu is a great document publishing application that gives a classy, professional look to existing documents. It gives your documents a “magazine” style look as you flip through your document’s pages. Your Issuu document is also very easy to share by email or by embedding it into your blog, wiki, or learning management system. A member of my PLN, Kelly Tenkely, used Issuu to publish a great guide to using Pages ’09 for Mac. Be sure to check it out so you can see what an Issuu document looks like.

It is my hope you find at least one of these resources beneficial to you and your students. I welcome your comments.

4 thoughts on “Collaborative Document Tools for the 3Cs”

  1. Nice post, all great tools. My only concern with Etherpad is the built in chat feature. On the right bottom of the screen is a chat feature that poses problems. It would awesome if that had an on/off feature.

  2. I’ve used Etherpad with adult and student committees, everyone really seems to like it. I’d like to be able to delete an entire pad, I don’t think you can do that – but I haven’t worked with this tool since last fall.

    I did warn the participants that the chat box couldn’t be deleted. I think it’s valuable, but again, I’d like to delete things when we’re done.

  3. Kyle, loved the post and I wished I had discovered etherpad sooner. Great potential for writing with students. Are there any other options as Etherpad will cease on March 31st?

  4. I just used Crocodoc tonight to collaborate on a grant application with our grant writer. It is so easy to use and share. LOVE it!
    Issuu is of course a favorite of mine, I use it constantly 🙂

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