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Computer-Supported Collaborative Writing for Professional Development

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Chapter Summary

Computers have become prevalent in most professional activities, as they are used with different aims, from the administration of work to the performance of core professional activities. However, vocational educational programs rarely integrate computer support for writing activities in the school or training place, yet often require trainees to prepare printed project reports. The computer is thus considered as a mere production tool and its affordances for learning and training are ignored. This chapter presents an overview of the way computer technology can be used to facilitate and support individual and collaborative writing, with the perspective of fostering learning and professional development. After identifying the functions and affordances offered by technology to support different aspects of the writing activity, with a particular attention to the tools oriented towards collaboration, the chapter provides examples of studies involving two types of computer-supported collaborative writing activities: collaborative production with Wikis, and asynchronous discussions, in two different domains: teacher education and health. The potential benefits of collaborative writing on professional development in terms of social and individual knowledge construction are discussed, providing recommendations for the implementation of productive collaborative writing instructional activities.



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