eComma: An Open Source Tool for Collaborative L2 Reading

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Abstract

Reading has increasingly become a social activity thanks to the rise of e-readers such as iPads and Kindles. This means that people can now carry on Internet-mediated conversations with others about the texts they are reading. This case study describes eComma, an open source web application for textual annotation developed by the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL). eComma turns reading into a group activity during which learners help each other understand a text. For example, readers mark up a digital text with tags and comments to which other readers may respond. Tags and comments are automatically displayed as word clouds for further analysis. Social reading tools such as eComma provide readers with valuable guidance and feedback during the reading process and thus allow learners to analyze a text together in a more collaborative and exploratory manner. Originally conceived as a tool to facilitate close-reading activities in the English literature classroom, this case study recounts how second language teachers are exploring eComma's potential. It is shown that eComma helps language learners' deal more effectively with unknown vocabulary and grammar. In addition, eComma's hypermedia environment heightens language learners' awareness of the process of textual interpretation.

Keywords: annotation, close reading, collaborative learning, multiple literacies, social reading.

References

Calvino, I. (1979). If on a Winter’s Night A Traveler. San Diego: Harcourt Brace.

Eluard, P. (1942). Poésie et Vérité. Paris: Éditions de Minuit.

Laferrière, D. (1994). Chronique de la dérive douce. Montréal: Les Éditions du Boréal.

Ryan, M-L. (2001). Narrative as Virtual Reality. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

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Blyth, Carl. (2013). eComma: An Open Source Tool for Collaborative L2 Reading. In Ana Beaven, Anna Comas-Quinn, Barbara Sawhill (Eds), Case Studies of Openness in the Language Classroom (pp. 32-42). Research-publishing.net. https://doi.org/10.14705/rpnet.2013.000108

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