Collaborative Writing and Sharing Documents

In collaborative writing, group members use Web tools to write, edit, and revise in real time. This can be an improvement in efficiency, speed, and security over the common practice of e-mailing documents back and forth.

These tools are offered at the University of Minnesota:

Those outside may be invited to participate at various levels by members of the University community.

  • Google Drive - word processing, spreadsheet, presentation.

  • Netfiles - an online file storage tool.
    • Approved for storing private and protected data.
    • Files may be private or shared with a selected group, everyone at the U, or the public. Users may be given rights to view, edit, or delete.
    • To learn more: See "Using Netfiles" and "Help and Support" on the U of M Netfiles page.

  • Moodle - course management software.
    • Although designed to support courses, groups often use Moodle as a place to store shared documents and links.
    • Anyone may be included in a Moodle "Course," with varying levels of privileges. Those outside the U need to obtain a guest ID.
    • To learn more: See the U of M's Moodle Support page.

  • UMWiki - wiki software at the U of M.

  • myU Portal - customizable Web portal at the U of M.
    • While best known as a personalized resource for those at the U, myU may also be used to create Web sites for groups.
    • myU portal pages may be open to all, just those at the U, or a selected group.
    • To learn more: See the handout on myU Portal Group Collaboration or watch a 10-minute recording of the myU orientation.
    • These Tools are open to anyone:

      • Google Groups can be used for communication about collaborative writing projects unless the information is sensitive or private. It is not currently part of the U of M Google Apps suite. Learn more by taking the Google Groups Tour

      • Dropbox accounts, which individuals use to sync various devices, may be shared among collaborators. Documents, spreadsheets, and other files may be shared, and 2GB of online storage for is free, with more available for a small fee.

      • Free wiki software is available at Wikispaces, and similar sites.

      In selecting collaborative writing tools, you might consider if you would like to:

      • Organize/track multiple versions
      • Track individual contributions
      • Back up documents
      • Protect private information