Social Reading using eComma

The study of primary texts serves as a cornerstone of humanities scholarship and coursework. In the field of humanities computing, the ability to mark up and annotate e-texts has provided insights into such texts and their interpretation by an individual or a community, whether in a research cohort or an introductory course in the arts and sciences curriculum.

In the Geddes Language Center, we have been experimenting with a social reading tool called eComma . The added value for humanities and other courses is that eComma permits multiple users to insert comments, view other people’s comments, and create a shared database of tags that provide added layers of interpretive information for all readers without changing or altering the original text. eComma was created by Professor Sam Baker and a team of graduate students from the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin with support from an NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant.

Below is a screen shot of a chapter from a novel by contemporary German writer Olga Grjasnowa showing how students and the instructor added tags to grammatically similar lexica. Another view of the comments feature is at the end of this post.

ecomma interface

Starting in the Spring 2016 semester, the Learning Management Systems team in IS&T have provided BU Blackboard Learn users with an integration for eComma.

This integration makes it easy to add a direct link from any content area in Blackboard to a course specific eComma site at UT Austin. Users can add new texts and mark up existing texts on an ongoing basis, allowing for asynchronous, collaborative learning using this newly available tool. BU is among the first institutions to use the Blackboard Learn integration for eComma; there is also an integration for Canvas LMS, and prior to that it was only available as a stand-alone resource in the open source environment, Drupal.

For details on how to create your own eComma site, contact Mark Lewis in the Geddes Language Center.

ecomma interface