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Collaboration

"Collaboration" has always been an integral part of literacy and writing.  Yet thanks to the internet and associated technologies, collaboration plays an increasingly greater role in business, professional, and academic settings. Social media tools like Facebook, Linked-In, and Academia.Edu put us in constant conversation with one another.  Peer production tools like wikis and Google Docs enable us to collaborate in real-time.  Video conferencing tools like Skype or Google Hangout enable us to workshop documents together even if continents and oceans separate us.

To improve your collaborative abilities, consult Managing Group ProjectsAdvice on Finding Collaborators, and Peer Review.

Thanks to ever emerging new technologies, writers can collaborate in exciting new ways. Using tools such as Google Docs, writers can work on texts synchronously even when they are separated by continents and oceans. Using discussion forums, musicians can exchange and remix chords with other artists from around the world. Via Skype, writers can talk with one another as they collaborate in a shared white space. Not to mention Wikipedia. Clearly, good collaboration skills are more important now than ever before.

Follow these tips for nurturing teamwork in group situations.

Business leaders commonly complain that college graduate students have not learned how to work productively in groups. In American classrooms, we tend to prize individual accomplishment, yet in professional careers we need to work well with others.Unfortunately, the terms "group work," "team work," or "committee work" can appear to be oxymorons--like the terms "honest politician" or "criminal justice."

If you have the opportunity to choose collaborators, consider this:

The whole truly can be larger than the sum of its parts. Through collaboration, we can produce documents that we alone could not imagine.  Collaborators can inspire us, keep us on task, and help us overcome blind spots.

At the same time, collaborators can become obstacles, requiring constant supervision. In group situations, other students can fail to attend classes or out-of-class meetings; they can ignore your efforts and just focus on their own missions or visions about ways documents should be written.