Marginalia Central: Social Annotation as Discussion Forum

This post was co-written by Sean Michael Morris and Jeremy Dean.

Like page-bottom comments sections on online articles, discussion forums emerged in the Internet Age as a way for readers and students to engage with published authors and each other. Like page-bottom comments sections, discussion forums have largely failed to cultivate the kinds of meaningful conversations they promised.

Discussion forums are among the most difficult of all the digital spaces that teachers must organize and occupy. In the fifteen years that Sean has been working with teachers in online and hybrid classes, he has encountered more confusion and complaints about discussion forums than any other digital tool. The problem is that the discussion forum is, quite simply, not designed for discussion. Continue reading “Marginalia Central: Social Annotation as Discussion Forum”

Attention! Multitasking, Mindfulness, and Social Reading

Much has been made of digital culture, of the innovations—and rapidity of those innovations—related to the devices, platforms, applications, and approaches that make up the apparatus of that culture. We are a people of the device these days, working from wherever we are on our phones, our laptops, our tablets. The cloud is the new office. Yet, in her keynote at Digital Pedagogy Lab – Prince Edward Island, blogger and activist Audrey Watters asserted that, in fact, adoption of digital technologies has been slower than the adoption of the technologies upon which it’s built.

Key to her argument is that almost all of the digital has analogues in the analog. We were using telephones before we were using video chat; we were sitting in front of TV screens long before we were streaming movies on our computers. Continue reading “Attention! Multitasking, Mindfulness, and Social Reading”

Welcome to the Margins!

Welcome to Digital Annotation for Learning and Scholarship! This digital learning experience is a brand new (slightly experimental) offering from the Office of Digital Learning at Middlebury College. We’ve partnered with the good folks at to create an online space where participants can both learn and play with digital, social annotation while exploring the theory behind annotation, and its potential application for teaching, learning, and scholarship.

By way of orientation, here’s quick guide for participating in this learning experience: Continue reading “Welcome to the Margins!”