About the Course

“A class is a process, an independent organism with its own goals and dynamics. It is always something more than even the most imaginative lesson plan can predict.” ~ Thomas P. Kasulis


In a world of social connectedness, open educational resources, Twitter scholarship, and online textbooks, digital annotation presents a platform for learning and teaching which may offer the best of both print and web-based reading. As Sam Anderson writes in The New York Times Magazine :

The digital book—scentless, pulp-free, antiseptic—seems like a poor home for the humid lushness of old-fashioned marginalia. You can’t even write by hand in an e-book—at least not comfortably, not yet. As John Dickerson recently put it on Slate, describing his attempt to annotate books on an iPad: ‘It’s like eating candy through a wrapper.’

And yet the desire to interact with the texts we read—and to ask learners to do the same—is a persistent one. Likewise, because digital technologies allow us to quickly and easily dialogue with a network of our peers, the static quality of online texts (from e-books to Pearson course materials) doesn’t seem to take full advantage of what’s possible. Reading—especially in a classroom or among researchers—should be a shared, social activity.

Digital Annotation for Learning and Scholarship is a learning experience created by the Office of Digital Learning at Middlebury College. We intend this environment to be open to any who wish to learn and collaborate here, and we’ve included a few tips on how to get started that will help you jump in.

While the learning environment will remain an open space available on the web indefinitely, we will offer guided facilitation from January 23 – February 3, 2017, with a synchronous discussion on January 30 at noon Eastern time. Likewise, the annotatable documents (and pages) in this course will remain open for continued collaboration and discussion indefinitely, but will be most vigorously active during the guided facilitation.

As a community here, we will explore, among other things:

  • Digital reading vs. analog reading
  • Annotation as solution for deeper reading
  • History of annotation both analog and digital
  • Social annotation as a teaching modality, and as scholarly practice

Some of the questions we’ll be asking include:

  • Why collaborative annotation? Why social annotation?
  • What are the theories of annotation and learning? Is there a connection?
  • How are digital collaboration and community building related?

We will focus on and practice digital annotation with the Hypothes.is tool. Most of our readings over the week will be housed in Hypothes.is, and will allow us to annotate together, making observations not only about the texts we’ll read, but also about the experience of shared reading.

Some questions we’ll be asking about Hypothesis include:

  • How do I use the tool?
  • How do I use this in my classroom?
  • How do I train students? What steps are involved in setting things up?
  • Is Hypothes.is aligned to FERPA? What concerns should I have around privacy?
Getting Started Facilitators