Supporting Writing Collaborations through Synchronous Technologies: Singing Our SSONG about Working Together at a Distance
Academia in general, and academic writing in particular, are often isolated endeavours (Fergie, Beeke, McKenna, & Crème, 2011). Isolation can hamper academic success - most of us have felt the heightened effects of intense work demands when our support system is not present. This can be even more palpable when collaborative partners are globally located. With the advent of technology, collaborators now have tools to assuage academic isolation and foster rich, productive collaborations. Using synchronous technology, a common passion for SoTL work and collaborative work has led to lasting partnerships across continents that support both personal and professional development. Synchronous and asynchronous technologies offered the authors ongoing opportunities to actively participate in academic dialogue and collaborate on multiple publications, despite being scattered over three continents. This unique academic collaboration is called a Small Significant Online Network Group (SSONG). The name SSONG was modified from work describing "small significant networks" (Roxå & Mårtensson, 2009, 2012; Verwoord & Poole, 2016). The authors included the online component, which provided the apt overarching metaphor of a song, situating song as a collaborative work of art. Singing our SSONG has a choral ring to it, underscoring the strength in its collaborative cacophony of voices. The SSONG highlights academic writing's multi-modal elements. The richness of the different author voices in a SSONG bring confidence, encouragement, and personal and professional transformation.