CommonSpace Review ...

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Comments on Features of CommonSpace

Following are my assessment of the value or importance of these features. To return to the list of features, click on one of the underlined titles.

Columns and Annotations

Linked Columns
A very useful tool because it operates in a familiar manner. Linking comments to the text means they are not lost; in fact, the text scrolls and re-spaces to accommodate a comment that runs longer than the marginal space.

Unlinked Columns
Work well for rewriting text alongside the original, for a second draft.

When the writer clicks on the comment, the word or words to which the comment is linked in the other column appear in a box.

Parallel columns
Allow for very easy reading of commentary.

Collapsable text
Sometimes as teachers or editors, we don't want to overwhelm our students with notes. With collapsed notes, the student can expand them one at a time.

Multiple Columns
In my professional writing, I might want to have a series of notes that help my editor or collaborator see my concerns. In the past I have done this with italicized commentary embedded in the text. This is better.

Compare Columns
Nice for situations in which a writer is re-writing her own text or an editor is doing a point-by-point rewrite.

Multiple workspaces
A handy approach to organizing a large project that might have multiple revisions or versions.

Question sets
Probably more useful to teachers than any other kind of user. If the emphasis is on the reading of the text, whether for a rewrite or to gain an understanding of the text, a question set can be a very useful tool. Collapsing them so that readers deal with them one at a time seems to work well. It's also possible to create comments in sound files.

Library of comments
Another teacher tool. For those who find themselves consistently using the same comments on student work, this could be a boon.

On-line conferencing
This seems  like one of the most productive and useful features of CommonSpace. When students work together on a text, it can be very helpful to have them (virtually) in one place, looking at their own screens and commenting, each in their own columns, on the text before them. Unfortunately, I was unable to test this feature firsthand, and the documentation does not make it clear precisely how this would be set up. If it works as promised it will be lovely.

Full-featured Text-editor
Yes! Text-editors are sometimes pretty scaled-down, but this one lives up to "full-featured."

Hooray! I'm a Mac-user and my techno-tutors and my writing partner are all Windows folk. Yes, it works. And you can even import directly from a Windows-based word-processing program into a Mac. Easy, easy.

Clear, easy to follow, helpful information, but not so much that a reader is overwhelmed; 140 pages is not hard to cope with in a reference guide. Well-organized, with a special section in most chapters called, "Getting the Most Out of. . ." For example, "Getting the Most Out of Columns" has suggestions for use, such as round robin discussions and using a column for notes to yourself.

Easy to do, helpful. The tutorial supports not just following directions, but supports the learner actually learning. For example, when you have completed a task, the tutorial sends you to look at what you did and see where the workspace you created is listed.