Better Class Discussions with Highlighter

One of the beauties of asynchronous, online education is the discussion forum. Teachers know the pitfalls of the, say, fifty-five minute synchronous/traditional classroom discussion. In the attempt to both pose a question and collectively find an answer, we swim purposefully towards the answer, rather that splash around in the messy pools of possible answers. We reach conclusions too quickly. And, while asynchronous discussions allow this “splashy” discourse, the challenge for the teacher is to direct and redirect a discussion which can become long, fragmented, unfocused.  Part of this problem is structural. Discussion forums are usually located at the bottom of the article/web page. Comments are stacked, and, unless every respondent has done a good job of quoting and paraphrasing, comments are without context. Take a look at any thread spread out over the course of three pages on the NY Times website and you quickly see what I mean. Yeah, I’m talking to youSupreme Court Lets Health Law Largely Stand

Highlighter, a new-ish highlighter/annotater for content, works to solve this problem. And while I haven’t given up on using the regular comments section on my course wiki, I’ve taken to using the highlighter plug-in on assignments where I want a close reading of a text/where I want students to comment on specific parts of a longer text.

A  few things that I like/my students liked about this tool.  Read More→

photos by: The U.S. National Archives & The U.S. National Archives

Author Dominic Saucedo