An Annotation Flash Mob About Social Reading

For the past four weeks, graduate learners in INTE 5340 Learning with Digital Stories have been using the web annotation platform Hypothesis as means of textual analysis, annotation-as-discussion, and peer-to-peer feedback. INTE 5340 is a DS106 course, and web annotation is a wonderful complement to the creative and experimental elements of DS106. Check out, for example, how we’re playing with multimodal annotation by layering DS106 Daily Creates into the margins of this course blog – here’s the learner-produced magic from Week 3 and our current Week 4. As we read about mashups and new literacies practices in this storytelling course, one interpretation of such hybridity is the synthesis of DS106 and with Hypothesis web annotation.

Before sharing invitation details for this annotation flash mob, I’ll briefly comment upon how learners are using Hypothesis web annotation in INTE 5340, particularly as it extends and also differs from the pedagogy, design, and practice exhibited in INTE 5320 Games and Learning. As many readers and friends likely know, my approach to the Spring 2016 iteration of INTE 5320 was an extended experiment in open educational practices, with Hypothesis playing a prominent role. All course texts were available as open educational resources, for example, and all our annotation was a public practice. This approach to open web annotation was both playful and sometimes a cause for concern; ultimately, it impacted learning in myriad ways.

This summer term in INTE 5340 – and based upon learner feedback from INTE 5320, as well as insight from my research project about playful annotation called PAHSIT – the use of web annotation has embraced a wider range of activities, some of which are private, some of which are public. Here’s an overview of how we’re using Hypothesis:

  • Public annotation of this course blog (as noted above with Daily Creates), as well as our recommended readings, many of which are blog posts that already include layered and ongoing conversation. Last week, for example, some INTE 5340 learners contributed public annotations to Audrey Watters’ post What Do We Mean By Open Education.
  • Private annotation via Hypothesis’ groups feature of our weekly readings. Given the size of this course, learners are engaging in such annotation-as-discussion via four small groups (about seven participants per group). I’m really impressed by the quality and consistency of these group conversations. While the descriptive statistics are less impressive than the content of learners’ analysis and inquiry, out of respect for that private space I’ll simply note the following about this week’s reading – four groups contributed 91, 65, 75, and 73 annotations respectively, with many annotations including subsequent peer commentary.
  • Annotation – some private to groups, some opened publicly – of peer blog posts. The blog roll of this course’s learners is available at right, and weekly peer-to-peer feedback about assignments is regularly provided via Hypothesis. In this respect, Hypothesis functions as a means of informal peer review. Regardless of whether or not these annotations are public or private, the social reading practices afforded by Hypothesis have allowed learners to create meaning together, hold one another accountable, and even scaffold comprehension.

In addition to these uses of Hypothesis in INTE 5340, let’s dig into the deets about an upcoming – and public – annotation flash mob. Much of the following borrows from this previous invitation, including this rationale:

Much of our learning… has yet to trouble open annotation as an asynchronous activity. Whether in response to course readings or peer blog posts, our use of open annotation has largely operated over fractured timescapes – learners contribute when it is convenient, based upon the constraints of their individual schedules, and often around (or in spite of) other commitments. This dynamic is almost entirely the result of a particular approach to online teaching and learning, and not something inherent to open web annotation (or Hypothesis as a platform).

So what happens when the social and networked affordances of open web annotation become synchronous? One approach is an annotation flash mob.

My recent experiences with annotation flash mobs – one organized as informal professional learning, and one atop this blog that literally played with my own thoughts about playfulness – have demonstrated that these impromptu and improvisational gatherings are distinctive opportunities to converse, spark connections, and extend interests into new learning pathways.

Last semester’s annotation flash mob was pretty awesome (and will be featured, thanks to Amy Collier, as an example in her forthcoming entry to the MLA Commons Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities project). Now, thanks to Lainie Hoffman – who was in Games and Learning last semester, and now is enrolled in Learning with Digital Stories – we’re organizing another flash mob. Here’s our invitation:

When: Tuesday, July 5th at 5p MT (7p EST, 4p PT).

Where: Jeremy Dean’s blog post Social Reading in the Writing Classroom: A Webinar and 5 Ways to Use Hypothesis for Rhet/Comp. Jeremy is the Director of Education at Hypothesis, and writes an awesome blog.

If you’re new to open web annotation and want to join in, follow my instructions at the end of this post. If you want to follow along without installing Hypothesis, then use this “via” proxy link to Jeremy’s article so as to access and watch the open annotation in real time. And expect that flash mob activity in one location will seed sharing across other connected platforms, particularly Twitter via #ILT5340 and perhaps #digped (which stands for digital pedagogy).

Who: You! This flash mob is hosted by INTE 5340 Learning with Digital Stories, a DS106 course at CU Denver that converses via both Twitter and Hypothesis at #ILT5340. Educators and designers tinkering with (open) web annotation, and particularly those folks who appreciate Hypothesis, may want to join – or encourage their courses to swing by. Please spread the word, we look forward to learning with you on Tuesday!


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