by Marissa K. L. E
The effectiveness of online social annotation tools (SA tools) has been shown in a variety of studies exploring its use in reading tasks assigned to students (Novak, 2012). The reasons for this effectiveness stem from how annotation acts as a means to document student thinking and learning, while anchoring annotations made to specific parts of an assigned text which the student can review, amend and reflect on at any time and place (Yeh et al., 2017). Furthermore, the online facility of SA tools makes interaction between students on the platform possible, thus enabling the co-construction of knowledge via annotations that students initiate and respond to.
the online facility of SA tools makes interaction between students on the platform possible, thus enabling the co-construction of knowledge via annotations that students initiate and respond to.
In this post, I briefly describe the use of Hypothes.is, an SA tool available online for free, in the context of my UTW1001A class. While Google Docs also has an annotation facility, the draw of Hypothes.is is its facilitation of annotations on a publicly-available webpage without having to download and edit the webpage for Google Docs. Hypothes.is can be easily downloaded as a Google Chrome extension or a bookmarklet for Firefox.
In Figure 1, the Hypothes.is interface is visible on the right, with the specific part of the webpage text relating to the annotations made highlighted in yellow. The annotations made are in response to a tutorial question prompt asking the group to point out similarities in the argument presented here with that of a reading covered in a previous tutorial. We can see here how Student A initiates an annotation where she paraphrases the author’s point, linking it to what was discussed in a previous tutorial about the role of the state in supporting neoliberal logic. She then adds to her own annotation, focusing on the assigned prompt to compare with the previous reading, David Harvey’s 2005 seminal work on the history of neoliberalism. She not only correctly points out Harvey’s more critical stance towards neoliberalism, highlighting his main argument of neoliberalism as a political project by a dominant group of economic elites, but also makes clear her opinion of how this is potentially more ‘sinister’ than what William Davies describes in this webpage text.
Figure 1: Sample of annotations
In response to her post, Student B brings in the concept of neoliberalisation as an ideological hegemonic project. This concept is relevant as it brings in the theme of dominance of an elite group in perpetuating a social reality that has become an accepted ‘common sense’ among the masses. This theme is central in Harvey’s argument. Student B is thus not merely paraphrasing what Student A has already said, but adds on to the train of thought being co-constructed here.
Thus, we can see here how student interaction via annotations on Hypothes.is can provide an avenue for student engagement by facilitating the co-construction of knowledge in a webpage reading task.
Davies, W. (July 13, 2017). What Is “Neo” About Neoliberalism? How to tell the difference between liberalism and something else. https://newrepublic.com/article/143849/neo-neoliberalism
Harvey, D. (2005). A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford University Press.
Hypothes.is. (n.d.). https://web.hypothes.is.
Novak, E., Razzouk, R., & Johnson, T. E. (2012). The educational use of social annotation tools in higher education: A literature review. Internet and Higher Education, 15, 39-49.
Yeh, H., Hung, H., & Chiang, Y. (2017). The use of online annotations in reading instruction and its impact on students’ reading progress and processes. ReCALL, 29(1), 22-38.