The #tagginganna project began in the summer of 2009, and is funded by the University of Leicester’s Teaching Enhancement Fund. It reflects the interest which Alex Moseley, Stuart Johnson and Mark Rawlinson share in possible linkages between the characteristics of the web 2.0 world of social networking (and new classifications of knowledge), and the experiences of learning. In particular, we are all keen to find out how socially-networked collaboration can support the typically solo activities of reading which prepare the ground for seminar discussion or private study.
Initial work with 3rd year English students in 2009-10 (‘Love and Death’, ‘Modern European Fiction’) confirmed some of our speculations, and also surprised us with additional benefits to students, particularly in relation to developing writing and the extension of the seminar beyond the boundaries of the formal weekly meeting.

Essentially, #tagginganna involves a shared electronic version of a course text which is ‘read’ by all members of the study group. The electronic text does not have to be read simultaneously because readers are able to leave their mark using a variety of tools for highlighting, tagging, and commenting on the text. The electronic text does not replace the printed text which each member will read privately; instead it provides a platform for collaboration on a number of challenging aspects of the reading process in university English:
  • Identifying which are the significant elements of the text (developing skills of attention and recognition, but also sharing the fruits of analysis and discovery). In this case, the more readers there are, the more gets noticed (as with the seminar itself).
  • Making implicit meanings in the text explicit (developing skills of interpretation, but also sharing the products of interpretive activity, and leading to higher synthesis).
  • Debating the relationships between multiple readings of the same elements from different points of view.
  • Labelling (or tagging) elements which can be taken up into larger scale analysis of long narrative texts (developing research and information handling skills to prepare for the production of substantial essays)
Whilst you will undoubtedly find preferred methods of your own for combining private reading with social collaboration, to help guide you and provide points of discussion you will be given particular tasks as the course progresses. The project team encourage you to experiment with, and reflect on the usefulness of, these tasks and the online tools, and would be grateful for any feedback you have.

Mark Rawlinson is particularly interested in the problem of working between individuals’ memories of having read a narrative (preparation) and a group’s abstract discussion of the same narrative, selectively supported by reference to the text, in seminar. This is a problem concerning memory, the relation of temporal experience and spatial representations, and explication. It is his hope that socially-commented, tagged and highlighted electronic texts can support the efforts of students of the novel to preserve and enhance their experience of making sense of a narrative during its unfolding. 

We've been blogging about the project during its various stages of development. You can find the relevant blogs here:

Subpages (1): Project team