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Engaging with Course Material with Social Annotation

Is Social Annotation Right for Your Course?

What is Social Annotation

Social annotation is a term used to describe readers using a digital education tool to read a work together. Social annotation education tools enable learners to use one master document to take notes, highlight areas of interest, pose and respond to questions, post relevant supplemental material and hold conversations in the margins of a text.

Aligning social annotation

  • Foster community and connection among students through sharing of ideas. 
  • Support critical reading skills by making it a socially engaged practice. 
  • Encourage recall as part of training in argumentation, rather than as simple knowledge retention.
  • Foster class discussions about a selected reading.

Understanding Accessibility and Usability

  • Learn how to use the social annotation tool chosen.
  • Provide instructions for students on how to use the social annotation tools
  • Files for annotation should be accessible: Blackboard Ally can be used  to check the accessibility of files and can even be used to convert scanned PDFs into searchable PDFs; 

Engaging with social annotation 

  • Populate a reading with "sign-posts" that help guide students through a text
  • Scan an assigned reading to discover "heatmaps" for interaction
  • Encourage engagement by posting images and videos that extend the text in interesting ways (e.g., post a supplementary YouTube video related to the author, theory, or subject matter in the text)
  • Encourage participation by offering feedback either within the text or privately

Integrating social annotation 

  • Vary uses of social annotation: student participation in a reading can be automatically graded based on a selected number of annotations, but can also be used for non-graded community-building and shared discourse
  • Add expectations to the syllabus about the purpose of annotations
  • Do a sample annotation in real-time (The syllabus might be good for this)
  • Consider having students use social annotation tools in private mode for their own study needs and deep reading