Guest post by Phil Ice, Ed.Dﾠ.
(Dr. Ice is currently the Director of Course Design, Research & Development at American Public University System. He has been using Buzzword in his teaching for the past year, and has conducted extensive research on the impact of using Buzzword versus alternatives.)
In the traditional online classroom students complete papers and projects in Word and submit them to the instructor as an email attachment. When the project is collaborative in nature, the typical workflow model involves using the track changes and commenting feature. At the point that a project is deemed complete the changes and comments are removed and passed to the instructor, via an email attachment, who adds yet another layer of comments and markups.ﾠ
In the spirit of web 2.0, an alternative to the above process has emerged in the form of free, online document editors. Buzzword, Google Docs and Zoho are some of the best known products in this sphere. A core function among these is the ability to create a document online and invite others to view and / or collaborate. Other features vary by product and include the ability to include tables, images and other fundamental features found in Word. However, the means of editing vary significantly from product to product.ﾠ
In four online, graduate-level, education courses students (n = 78) were asked to submit group projects using Word and Buzzword in alternating fashion. Buzzword was selected from the available online document collaboration tools as it offers several unique features, including pagination, intuitive media editing mechanisms and a visually oriented sharing mechanism.