Marginal Syllabus wins 2019 John Lovas Award

As announced at the 2019 Computers & Writing Conference at Michigan State University, the Marginal Syllabus has been awarded the 2019 John Lovas Award.

What is the John Lovas Award?

The John Lovas Award is given by the journal Kairos to an “outstanding online project devoted to academic pursuits.” Founded in 1996, Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy is an open-access online journal that is one of the longest, continuously-published peer-reviewed journals in the field.

Here’s some additional information about the annual John Lovas Award:

The John Lovas Award is sponsored by Kairos in recognition and remembrance of John Lovas’s contributions to the legitimation of academic knowledge­sharing using the emerging tools of Web publishing, from blogging, to newsletters, to social media. Each year the award underscores the valuable contributions that such knowledge-creation and community-building have made to the discipline by recognizing a person or project whose active, sustained engagement with topics in rhetoric, composition, or computers and writing using emerging communication tools best exemplifies John’s model of a public intellectual.

Award Proposal

The award team of Remi Kalir (University of Colorado Denver), Christina Cantrill (National Writing Project), Joe Dillon (Aurora Public Schools/Denver Writing Project), and Jeremy Dean (Hypothesis) submitted a proposal in the spring of 2019 to Kairos.

A selection of our proposal is included here:

This proposal presents a project that uses open and collaborative web annotation to spark social reading and public writing about literacy, equity, and education. Since 2016, the Marginal Syllabus has organized 27 ongoing “annotation conversations” with educators about equity in teaching and learning. Currently in its third iteration, the Marginal Syllabus is now a multi-stakeholder partnership among the National Writing Project, the National Council of Teachers of English, the web annotation non-profit Hypothesis, publishers of scholarship, K-12 educators, and university researchers (the fourth iteration of the Marginal Syllabus in summer 2019 will partner with the journal CITE: English Language Arts to discuss connected teaching and learning in the context of literacy education).

What’s an annotation conversation? Authors contribute open access scholarship related to educational equity, perhaps also participate in a partner author webinar, and then conversation begins as educators use open-source and collaborative annotation to publicly comment upon and discuss scholarship. Over three years, hundreds of educators and university students have participated in Marginal Syllabus conversations by authoring thousands of Hypothesis annotations.

In addition to ongoing conversation, the initiative engages with various digital-native academic compositions and knowledge-sharing projects, including the Open Pedagogy Notebook, the open learning analytics dashboard CROWDLAAERS that visualizes how “crowds” of annotators contribute “layers” of annotation to online texts (see all Marginal Syllabus analytics here), and the San Francisco State University Marginal Syllabus, a local chapter of the national effort, whereby writing program faculty have read, annotated, and discussed the book Antiracist writing assessment ecologies: Teaching and assessing writing for a socially just future (Inoue, 2015).

By utilizing open and collaborative web annotation as both an everyday and disruptive media literacy practice (Kalir & Dean, 2018), the Marginal Syllabus enacts a participatory form of public discourse that exemplifies the “social scholarship of teaching” (Greenhow et al., 2019; see discussion of the Marginal Syllabus on p. 9). This “social scholarship” encourages educators to generate and share new knowledge about their teaching (e.g., Kalir & Perez, 2019; Kalir & Garcia, in press). Educator annotation of equity-oriented scholarship is a counter-narrative about pedagogical practice written and archived as complementary to published literature.

In this respect, the Marginal Syllabus has been described as public scholarship that seeks “to imagine a different paradigm for conducting, consuming, and responding to research” (Mirra, 2018), as well as as an open educational practice that advocates “non-traditional approaches to online collaborative reading of texts… [to] promote transformative learning as dialogue” (Bali & Caines, 2018; see p. 14-15). Furthermore, the Marginal Syllabus’ annotation conversations are a form of post-publication peer review that is openly accessible, democratic in practice, and welcoming of multiple knowledge stakeholders. Finally, the project’s three syllabi – comprised of open access scholarship, public and ongoing annotation conversation, and webinars and other resources – demonstrate how to collaboratively extend the social life of scholarship, curate knowledge for public discourse, and use participatory communication technology to author counter-narratives about educational equity.

Thank You!

Thank you, first and foremost, to Kairos for selecting the Marginal Syllabus as recipient of the 2019 John Lovas Award.

Our work would not be possible without the support of partner organizations the National Writing Project, the National Council of Teachers of English, and Hypothesis. Thank you for believing in this project and its people, dedicating time and resources to encourage our work, and promoting this new model of educator professional learning.

Thank you to the many partner authors who have contributed open-access scholarship about educational equity to the Marginal Syllabus so as to spark and sustain our conversations. You and your scholarship are, in many respects, the anchor of this entire project.

And, of course, thanks to all the educators and learners who have participated in Marginal Syllabus annotation conversation over the years – we are most appreciative of your time, interest, and contributions.