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Example of a Brock University Etherpad, located at$65
Example of a Brock University Etherpad, located at$65

An Etherpad is an excellent way to collaborate seamlessly on documents.

An Etherpad is a web-based collaborative real-time editor, allowing authors to simultaneously edit a text document, and see all of the participants' edits in real-time, with the ability to display each author's text in their own colour. Text is synchronized as each contributors type, so that everyone viewing this page sees the same text. Each author has different colouring for whatever they type. Those with access can use the Time Slider feature to see how the pad progressed.

In contrast to a wiki, Etherpads can be used only for rich-text. Multimedia of any kind (images, video or audio) can not be included, as they can be in a Brock University kumu-based wikis, or other wikis. An etherpad instead focuses on creating a single document with a number of collaborators in real time, removing the preview/save part of wiki instead creating an experience more like regular word precessing, except with all collaborators at their own keyboards.

The CPI's public pilot of Etherpad software started on Wednesday October 17, 2012.


[edit] Example

This vide includes an example of multiple users collaboratively editing one document. Each colour denotes a different user. Multiple users are able to modify the document at the same time.

[edit] Two Plus Ways to Access Kumu-based Etherpads

[edit] As a stand alone Eitherpad

Any Brock University staff or faculty member can create a new stand alone Etherpad at . Once created that Brock University staff or faculty member can share the address for the pad with anyone.

Each pad has its own URL, and anyone who knows this URL can edit the pad and participate in the associated chats. Brock University Kumu-based Etherpad's can be password protected or open for anyone to read and edit from across the internet. Identities of editors can be tracked via CAMPUS ID or by an name entered by the contributor. Non-Brock individuals can also edit etherpads though they will appear as anonymous editors if they do not choose to attribute their edits to name.

[edit] Connecting through Isaak/Sakai

Contact the CPI if you would like to have Etherpads added to your Isaak/Sakai site. Once enabled, any instructor in an Isaak/Sakai course site can create Etherpads just for that course's participants. The instructor can further limit access by adding a password to a pad and only sharing the password with specific groups.

[edit] Student Access

Student view of the Etherpads Tool in Isaak/Sakai
Student view of the Etherpads Tool in Isaak/Sakai

In the Etherpads tool students will automatically see any pads you create within the site.

For example if you created a new pad in the ASTR1P01 FW 2014 Isaak/Sakai course site all of the students within that site would be able to access the created pad. The following year when teaching ASTR1P02 FW 2015 you would have to recreate these pads again as the pads are only available to students in the site they are created in.

Student names will automatically be sent to the Etherpad to help identify the users editing.

Students will have full access to edit the content of the Etherpad and all edits will be kept in the timeslider section of the pad.

[edit] Features of Brock University's Implementations of Etherpad

  • Perhaps the best tool yet created for online collaboration around the creation of a single document
  • Hosted at Brock University
  • SSL encrypted to prevent interception/access by individuals that the content was not intended for (though it is important to note that, like a wiki, this tool innately has a very open access focus)
  • The ability to restrict access with a password
  • On screen chat and identification of other contributors
  • Integration with Isaak, Brock University's Sakai-Based LMS
  • Import and Export options from tools like MS Word or other Etherpads
  • Built on the latest Open Source version of Etherpad, Etherpad-lite
  • Timeline replay of contributions
  • Social sharing options
  • On screen help
  • Formatting options including:
    • Bold
    • Italics
    • Underline
    • Strikethrough
    • Bulleted and numeric lists
    • Indentation

[edit] Other Etherpad Providers

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