Welcome to Layered Learning: Web Annotation in Collaborative and Connected Contexts! This blog post shares resources that complement our presentation on Friday, October 6th at 2p at the 2017 Digital Media and Learning Conference hosted at the University of California Irvine.

You can access our session slides here.

Our session brings together educators, researchers, and technologists to explore the intersection of web annotation and learning. Web annotation draws upon the centuries-old practice of adding marginalia to books, and extends this layer as a feature of the web allowing commentary, highlights, embedded media, and content categorization. Among web annotation technologies, the open platform Hypothesis (https://hypothes.is) distinctively supports learning, research, and collaborative knowledge production.

Our presentation has been broadly organized around the following question: How do the open, social, and collaborative affordances of web annotation inform learning and community-building? Below we feature the people and projects featured in our session: Hypothesis Education, Networked Narratives, OER Textbooks, Marginal Syllabus, and Learning Outcomes Reframed As Cognitive Practices.

Hypothesis Education

Hypothesis Education (https://hypothes.is/education/): Hypothesis Director of Education Jeremy Dean will share context about the emerging role of web annotation in formal education and interest-driven learning. Jeremy will also introduce web annotation and the Hypothesis platform, and suggest outstanding questions and learning opportunities. For educators interested in using Hypothesis, check out the Educator Resource Guide and the Student Resource Guide.

Networked Narratives

Networked Narratives (http://netnarr.arganee.world): Mia Zamora and Alan Levine will share how learners in Networked Narratives – a digital storytelling and civic imagination connected course for Kean University students and open participants – leveraged annotation to expand the experience of virtual trips and to explore narrative layers atop web content. In February 2017 participants engaged in four virtual Studio visits with narrative experts via Google Hangouts. Each event included background on the guest, information on their works, responses to pre-visit questions, the video archive itself, text from the hangout chat,  and additional resources. Students were asked to annotate with hypothes.is the event page after watching the live or archived hangout, and those who were present in the hangout were asked to tweet out a time-coded YouTube link to a specific portion of the event (added after the visit), more or less another flavor of annotation– see for example the visit page for Leonardo Flores. In addition to hypothes.is students used SoundCloud’s time-based comment feature to annotate the audio track from the visit with Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel and our open participants launched video annotation of the archived hangouts with vialogues.

Our April 2017 Netprov included mysterious invitations for participants to create alternative personas, digital alchemist characters to enter our mirror world of #arganee. We used hypothes.is as a platform to embed clues and puzzles to be solved to find the weekly assignments. The first invitation included a video with a mystery coded message which, run through the rot13 tool the students had explored earlier, contained a clue to find a post in the I Love E-Poetry site shared by Leonardo Flores. The clue mentioned “hypothesizing an answer” suggesting activating the tool, which finally revealed a branching path to find the way to the mirror world. We wanted to suggest to students to consider web annotation more than a discussion/commentary layer on documents, but a way perhaps to use as a narrative layer on the web that could, jump across it.

Also in the mirror world, we explored imagining a counter narrative. At the time, social media was buzzing with criticisms of the Pepsi Kendall Jenner advertisement. It was easy to heap criticism and create memes around this moment. For Mission III, we explored the possibility of a hidden, counter narrative– that it was entirely planned by Pepsi as a means of producing publicity. Our digital alchemists, operating under created alternative characters in Arganee, created new hypothesis accounts, and annotated a McSweeny’s parody of Pepsi as if they were celebrating the success of this secret plan. Hundreds of messages were attached, all done as an act of  networked improv narrative. Currently we are collaborating on a Research Networked Seminar #ResNetSem for five MA Thesis students from Kean (who had participated in #netnarr) with Mia’s graduate class in Norway. Hypothes.is used for shared readings, but we are heavily encouraging the use of highlighting for students reading and researching online documents.

OER Textbooks

OER Textbooks (https://press.rebus.community/opensem/): Robin DeRosa will discuss a connected learning curriculum at Plymouth State University, highlighting how annotation activities support college students’ interdisciplinary learning when Hypothesis is integrated into open education resources (OER) via student-created textbooks. Robin is currently working on the open textbook Interdisciplinary Studies: A Connected Learning Approach. Her interest in open textbooks stems from an interest in how on-the-ground pedagogies can enact a truly “public” higher education, and about how the field of Open Education interacts with advocacy around public funding for higher ed. She is experimenting with course- and program-level design to consider how the ways that we work in public with our students can develop conceptual frameworks for a knowledge commons, and how the logistics around new technologies for open learning can empower/constrict student agency and strengthen/subvert the public good.

Marginal Syllabus

Marginal Syllabus (http://marginalsyllab.us): A free and public educator professional development initiative, the Marginal Syllabus convenes monthly conversations about educational equity via open and collaborative web annotation. 

The project name, Marginal Syllabus, is an intentional political and technical double entendre. On the one hand, marginal refers to texts and perspectives that are counternarratives to dominant educational discourses and contexts. And on the other, marginal also indicates the location of annotation in the margins of a text. Remi Kalir will share about this partnership among K-12 educators, university researchers, the National Writing Project, and Hypothesis. The 2017-18 Marginal Syllabus is hosted by NWP and has been organized around the theme “Writing Our Civic Futures.” Also, join the October Marginal Syllabus conversation atop Henry Jenkins’ text How young activists deploy digital tools for social change.

Learning Outcomes Reframed As Cognitive Practices

Gardner Campbell will share his use of Hypothes.is as a platform for what he calls the cognitive practices of  “zooming in” and “connecting” in his Fall, 2017 literature courses at Virginia Commonwealth University (https://rampages.us/britlit1/syllabus and https://rampages.us/miltonf17/syllabus). By changing the metaphor from of “outcomes” to practices, Campbell intends to shift the conversation toward learning as experience, and thus Hypothes.is as a mode of that experience. He has in mind many things, many of them inchoate, but one lighthouse is clearly visible: T.S. Eliot’s remark of John Donne, that “for Donne, a thought was an experience; it modified his sensibility.” Can Hypothes.is modify our sensibilities in school–maybe even in the profession? Or will our prior habits of snark and compliance win out?

Additional Resources

In addition to these projects, here are a few other annotation-related resources or examples of online texts with robust annotation layers:

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