I wrote about WriteMaps recently, an online program that allows you to easily map out a website. It looked like just the tool to help my high school students get a handle on some of their bigger design projects. One of the features that drew me was the ability to share a document between several users. I thought this would be great for small group work.
I had my entire class sign into WriteMaps and that happened without a hitch. We spent some time experimenting with the features and I then had a simple assignment where they would each add one node to a master document. It didn't work. Only a few kids were able to get in and change the doc. The rest of the changes went out into the nether regions never to be seen again. I've had similar occurrences in other groupware where if you have too many users at one time, it won't work.
No problem. I'm a flexible teacher and my hair can't get much grayer than it is now. So, I set them up into small groups of three and had them try to work on a document at the same time. I still got mixed results. Work was lost. Kids were frustrated. I had to back up a few steps.
I will still have the students do some mapping with the program but my plans for working collaboratively on one large site with this as our centerpiece have been scrapped for the time being. I emailed Scott Jehl (author of the program) asking if there is a way around this. When I hear back, I'll let you know.
In the meantime, I am exploring other options.