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“When I saw my peers annotating”: Student perceptions of social annotation for learning in multiple courses

Jeremiah Holden Kalir (Department of Learning, Design and Technology, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA)
Esteban Morales (Department of Language and Literacy Education, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
Alice Fleerackers (School of Publishing, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada)
Juan Pablo Alperin (School of Publishing, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada)

Information and Learning Sciences

ISSN: 2398-5348

Publication date: 20 April 2020

Abstract

Purpose

Social annotation (SA) is a genre of learning technology that enables the annotation of digital resources for information sharing, social interaction and knowledge production. This study aims to examine the perceived value of SA as contributing to learning in multiple undergraduate courses.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 59 students in 3 upper-level undergraduate courses at a Canadian university participated in SA-enabled learning activities during the winter 2019 semester. A survey was administered to measure how SA contributed to students’ perceptions of learning and sense of community.

Findings

A majority of students reported that SA supported their learning despite differences in course subject, how SA was incorporated and encouraged and how widely SA was used during course activities. While findings of the perceived value of SA as contributing to the course community were mixed, students reported that peer annotations aided comprehension of course content, confirmation of ideas and engagement with diverse perspectives.

Research limitations/implications

Studies about the relationships among SA, learning and student perception should continue to engage learners from multiple courses and from multiple disciplines, with indicators of perception measured using reliable instrumentation.

Practical implications

Researchers and faculty should carefully consider how the technical, instructional and social aspects of SA may be used to enable course-specific, personal and peer-supported learning.

Originality/value

This study found a greater variance in how undergraduate students perceived SA as contributing to the course community. Most students also perceived their own and peer annotations as productively contributing to learning. This study offers a more complete view of social factors that affect how SA is perceived by undergraduate students.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the Dewey Fellowship (Grant G0293) awarded to JPA by the Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines (ISTLD) at Simon Fraser University, Canada.

Citation

Kalir, J.H., Morales, E., Fleerackers, A. and Alperin, J.P. (2020), "“When I saw my peers annotating”: Student perceptions of social annotation for learning in multiple courses", Information and Learning Sciences, Vol. 121 No. 3/4, pp. 207-230. https://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-12-2019-0128

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited