In Common List

In common this week: Taking Your Class Online

Welcome back folks–

The main goal of the CUNY Commons is to “build community through the use(s) of technology in teaching and learning.” So it is not surprising that there is a lot of discussion going on all the time on the Commons about how to use technology in the classroom (and by technology I don’t mean the slide projectors and overhead projectors that teachers used when I was in high school). The philosophy of the Commons is to encourage tools that enable collaboration and not the use of technology for its own sake. So this week I’m taking a look at a few sites that have published new articles and posts recently that delve into making the most out of digital tools but also aim to be resources for the community of teachers at CUNY and elsewhere.

  • Annotation Tools is a very narrowly focused blog on the Commons, but one that is likely to be helpful for nearly everyone. I teach literature and I’m always looking for better tools that allow my students to annotate a text such as a chapter in a novel, a theoretical excerpt, or a journal article. having students add glosses to a text encourages active reading, as does recording questions as they arise. I can ask students to come to class with one or two scenes they found particularly interesting, but it is another if we can look at a collaborative document in which we can see immediately the passages to which most students are responding. Annotation Tools collects and reviews (or at least gives in depth explanation of) various annotation tools as they are developed. The most recent post details a new project by MIT that looks promising.
  • The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy (JITP) was one of the first publications on the Commons so it’s an oldie-but-goody. In the most recent post in their “Assignments” section,  Karla Fuller of Guttman Community College makes use of image galleries in ePortfolios to visualize scientific concepts. The post is interesting because, in a way, it’s a “hack” of ePortfolios. ePortfolios suggest a very particular purpose but Fuller uses them in a new way that, I think, make the widely available tool adaptable for many classes–not just STEM classes.
  • The CUNY School of Professional Studies Writing Fellows blog just updated its Commons site to include articles specifically geared towards online courses. However, many of these techniques work if you’re adding a digital component to your typical class. If you’re using blogs for example, how to you encourage students to use that digital space to share rather than just to write in a private journal? It’s definitely worth taking a look.

Until next week–


3 thoughts on “In common this week: Taking Your Class Online

  • Thanks for writing this Paul!

    Just wanted to add that is a great new annotation tool I have been using for several purposes. Students can peer review each other’s posts, faculty can annotate live articles, etc. You can use the tool as browser plugin or (even better->) WordPress has a plugin that allows for seamless integration on any blog or PDF on your wordpress-hosted course site. provides a welcome alternative to Commentpress by allowing you to use any theme while still being able to annotate readings, texts, articles, pdfs, etc.

    More info here:


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