Have you heard about Digress.it? It used to be Comment Press, but changed its name in April 2009. It's been sitting in my Bookmarks for about that long, and today, I took some time to play with it. My first attempt at incorporating this in my online Literature course begins today. It's a little late...but I tend not to be an early adopter (for example, I am not in line to buy the ipad; I'll wait for a 3G network in my area). However, I'm finally giving digress.it a test run, and I think I'll kick myself for not trying it sooner...it could have saved some past frustration.

The Assignment

I assigned "Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway. If you know anything about Hemingway, you know that his stories are rather cryptic and not necessarily ideal for a first-year literature course. However, I taught the story in the past in a traditional classroom and thought I'd give it a try online. I am a glutton for punishment and tend to avoid the easy route when at all possible. Of course, I have several articles and notes about the story and I could have produced a presentation; however, with every attempt, I kept wishing for a document camera where I could point to the line or paragraph I was discussing. Having 1 document camera on campus, it makes it difficult to use. Dusting off my old bookmarks, I turned to digress.it.

The Logistics

Students first read the short story from their textbook or online (see the above link for the complete story). I copied the story to my digress.it account and then posted some comments and questions for some of the key paragraphs.

In Blackboard, I asked students a question that links to the discussion on digress.it and then encouraged them to comment. (This is the exact journal assignment: "Within the blog link on Hemingway's story, post a follow-up comment or question and then thoroughly answer one of the questions posed. Provide at least 100 words.") The students' answers are submitted in the journal component of Blackboard, so they will not be live unless they have questions or responses about the text.

This just came live today, so my students have yet to comment; however, feel free to take a look and let me know what you think.

Although not new, Digress.it has some promise. I'm just not sure how it fits in with current copyright laws. Certainly, we can't post every text here. However, with the new ipad and other book readers, certainly technology like this will become common place. What do you think? Do you use digress.it?

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