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American Renaissance X and Lacuna Stories

The American Renaissance: Classic Literature of the 19th Century (AmRenX), the fourth MOOC (massive open online class) from DartmouthX will introduce the next author module, Herman Melville, next week. In this unit AmRenX focuses on one novel, Moby-Dick. Don Pease and James "Jed" Dobson will be joined by Special Collections Librarian, Jay Satterfield as they explore a special exhibit in Rauner Library. Watch this video, "The Plurality of the Whale" (7:21) in which Jed and Jay explore the history of Moby-Dick in print.

Satterfield
Jay Satterfield and James Dobson

AmRenX has debuted several learning technologies in the MOOC format, including YellowDig, a social platform that plugs into the edX platform for course discussions (Email edtech@dartmouth.edu if you are interested in piloting YellowDig for your spring course).

In a literature course, close reading is an essential practice and annotation supports close reading of the texts. AmRenX is also using Lacuna Stories, an annotation platform developed at Stanford.  Lacuna allows annotations in the form of highlights, tags, comments and links to be private, for a group, or for all users.

Lacuna annotation box
Lacuna annotation box

In late February, Brian Johnsrud, a PhD candidate in Stanford's Program in Modern Thought and Literature and Project Manager for Lacuna Stories visited to Dartmouth to lead a Lacuna Stories workshop for faculty and staff. Later that day at the Digital Humanities Seminar, Digital Annotation in Theory in Practice, Johnsrud was joined by AmRenX instructional designers, Mike Goudzwaard and Erin DeSilva to share this background of using Lacuna Stories in AmRenX. James Dobson, Lecturer in English, Writing, and the MALS program and AmRenX co-instructor, introduced his current research project on theorizing the link between metacommentary and annotation.

"MOOC learners come from very different educational and cultural backgrounds and have different goals for taking an online class," said Erin. "Engaging learners over the several weeks of the course can be challenging, particularly in a humanities course where discussion is so embedded in the pedagogy."   The AmRenX team is using YellowDig and Lacuna Stories to encourage engagement in Dartmouth's first literature MOOC. YellowDig has been a different platform for some seasoned edX learners, but they have really taken to Lacuna. To date 542 learners have made 6,930 annotations in AmRenX. There is more activity in the annotation platform than any other part of the course.

Lacuna_Animation_03092016
This animated image shows the connections from the top annotators to particular texts in the course.

The animation above show the growing number of users and their annotations as displayed in the Lacuna dashboard.  AmRenX may have brought Lacuna Stories to Dartmouth, but several faculty members expressed interest in Lacuna after the workshop and seminar.  You can email edtech@dartmouth.edu if you are interested in knowing more about Lacuna Stories for your course.

AmRenX will introduce the final two authors, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain on April 1, 2016. You can sign up for the course and annotate in Lacuna Stories by clicking here.

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