Characteristics of online collaborative writing of multimodal texts in a virtual training course

Objective: This paper examines the impact of online collaborative writing of multimodal texts, completed during a virtual course for university students, on the participants' writing skills, their experience of collaborative learning and their disciplinary literacy.

Methodology: The paper reports on a case study of university students who participated in an online language learning course. The course was led by two tutors and completed by 214 students organized in 43 collaborative groups, of which 12 (60 students) were sampled. The authors collected their data from audiovisual recordings, documental analyses of the forums, wikis and student-generated texts, and interviews with the tutors.

Results: The study found that the collaborative writing activities had a positive effect on the students' learning process, specifically on their ability to engage in collaborative work, their language learning (the subject of the course), the quality of attention given to the topics that emerged in the writing activities and the students' use of ITC tools. On the other hand, the study also observed that there were certain shortcomings in the texts produced during the course and that these were directly related to the multimodal character of the texts. The authors conclude that online collaborative writing can positively contribute to student learning when and where this is favoured by the design of the writing tasks and the choice of activities.