Introducing PAHSIT

I am pleased to announce the beginning of a formal research partnership between the University of Colorado Denver and Hypothesis, a non-profit organization building an open platform for web annotation and discussion. A small team of learning scientists at CU Denver’s School of Education and Human Development, alongside educators and developers from Hypothesis, will launch Playful Annotation with Hypothesis Studying Interactive Text (PAHSIT). This new research collaboration is supported through the National Science Foundation’s Data Consortium Fellows program.

A tongue-in-cheek reference to the word posit, PAHSIT seeks to identify educational designs that support open annotation as a playful learning practice. PAHSIT will advance inquiry at the intersection of open education and pedagogy, learning analytics, and the role and importance of play in everyday activity. Extending learning analytics research concerned with multiliteracies, discourse-centric analytics, and rhetorical moves (Dawson & Siemens, 2014; Liddo et al. 2011; Shum & Ferguson, 2012), PAHSIT embraces Salen Tekinbas and Zimmerman’s (2004) definition of play as “free movement within a more rigid structure” (p. 304) to examine playfulness within the conventions of annotation and the technical affordances of the Hypothesis platform.

Specifically, PAHSIT will address two research questions:

  1. Under what conditions is the collaborative and networked practice of open web annotation playful?
  2. What does Hypothesis metadata reveal about the playful qualities of open web annotation?

PAHSIT plans to study learning associated with both informal activity structures, like annotatathons and flash mobs, and more formal cases like INTE 5320 Games and Learning course. Whereas some “technologies for learners… allow novices to lurk in the margins until they are ready to join experts” (Halverson & Shapiro, 2012, p. 3), PAHSIT will reveal how playful patterns in the margins constitute expert learning practices at the intersection of academic discourse and emergent social collaboration.

Most immediately, the initial PAHSIT collaboration will be presented at Hypothesis’ I Annotate Conference this May in Berlin. And look forward to the launch of a PAHSIT project website in conjunction with I Annotate (heads up Reclaim Hosting!).

Finally, and most importantly, I have many people to thank for their various contributions – conceptually, pragmatically, logistically – to the initial development and launch of this collaboration, including: the amazing team at Hypothesis, specifically Jeremy Dean, Jon Udell, and Dan Whaley; CU Denver colleagues Brad Hinson and Adam York; incredible thought partners across the Twitter-sphere, specifically Robin DeRosa, Sarah Honeychurch, Laura Gogia, Terry Elliot, Alexandre Enkerli, Scott Robison, and Joe Dillon (to name but a few!); and – of course – my graduate students in INTE 5320 Games and Learning. Thanks to these wise and kind folks for helping to refine, critique, and support this ongoing experimentation in playful open annotation!


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