CommonSpace Review ...

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Overall Assessment

To complete an overall assessment, I went back to the questions I began with: How would I use CommonSpace in my professional writing, and how would I use it in my classroom?

In my professional writing, I would set up a column alongside my text and insert my own commentary, much as I do now on paper . I would do my second rewrite (and maybe my third) on Commonspace, writing in a column running parallel to the original. I would save my Macintosh work on a disk and take it to my Windows-using friend (who will have CommonSpace on her machine shortly) and ask for her comments. When I get it back, I will re-write in a third column. And when I finally get the Internet thing figured out, I will rejoice because that will make collaboration with my writing partner much easier. Finally, I will use it (as I did for this review) to write software reviews before transferring them to other formats (HTML or paper).

In my classroom, I would use CommonSpace to guide students' thinking about their own written texts. I would have them trade texts and comment on each others' texts as we do now in peer response groups. I would develop some sets of questions that might guide their reading of difficult texts. I would get this installed on our classroom network and try out the conference response to a text. Probably, I would use it most often for situations in which I wanted the focus to be on the text they were creating, rather than on the gathering of ideas for creating that text. However, I would not want to limit myself.

I find much to like about this program. It works with easily-understood concepts (marginal comments and columns) and operates as I would wish it to if I had designed it myself. The tutorial was easy for me to follow, and my tutors had little trouble working with the program without the tutorial, simply with me nattering at them in the background -- I spent about 5 minutes explaining it to each of them and then just stayed where they could ask questions; they asked each other. It is both easy to teach and to learn. CommonSpace opens my mind to new possibilities, among them the idea that my tutors and my students may have some thoughts on how they want to use this. I see much potential for CommonSpace in my classroom.