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”

To Read or Not to Read: Digital Texts and Finding Friends

I have never liked reading online. This means a lot, considering that I’ve taught online for many years, and was the managing editor for a successful online journal. As an instructional designer and an employee who works remotely, online text is not only a huge part of my job, but it is also the “classroom” through which I teach. Regardless, I find digital reading to be laborious, and have always preferred the turning of pages to the roll of a mouse wheel.

Anne Mangen, in her interview with Maria Konnikova says that “Reading ‘involves factors not usually acknowledged … The ergonomics, the haptics of the device itself. The tangibility of paper versus the intangibility of something digital.’” And I would agree. I am usually unable to engage the same way with digital text as I do with ink-on-paper text. For one, I think the Internet encourages skimming, and makes deep reading as hard on the soul as it is on the eyes.

Continue reading “To Read or Not to Read: Digital Texts and Finding Friends”