Paper for HTWW

John McEneaney

I was a participant in last year's workshop and enjoyed the interaction that the workshop format provided. This year I am eager to present work I have done over the past year on designing hypertext to support learning. My primary area of interest is writing expository, rather than literary, text. My work explores the idea of "linking as authoring" in the context of the Web. I am also interested in applications of "smart" hypertext that gathers data during reading sessions both as a research tool and as a basis for adaptive hypertext systems.

I can offer participants an opportunity to explore my ideas in a fairly concrete manner by inviting them to read an online article that implements many of the ideas I will present. The article was published in January, 2000 by Reading Online, an electronic publication of the International Reading Association.. I continue to develop the interface used in the article and will also have some user data and comments from readers of the article that I can share with participants.

*** Abstract and information about the work to be presented

Learning on the Web: A Content Literacy Perspective
John E. McEneaney
Oakland University


Supporting students' learning from subject area text involves focusing on both the text's content and on the processes students apply as they work to acquire, organize, and integrate that content. Clearly, more complex texts require more sophisticated learning processes on the part of students. Resources on the World Wide Web pose special difficulties with respect to these processes. Fortunately, emerging capabilities of on-line reading environments should help software designers and educators develop learning materials that allow readers to avoid problems with web-based content. The objective of this article is to describe (and, in one version, to illustrate by example) how new web technologies can be applied to assist readers both in integrating content and in maintaining a process focus as they navigate complex expository text. The central concept behind the approach described is that of the learner's ³path.²

A Note about the Different Versions

This article is presented in several different versions that can be read in several different ways. After reading the descriptions, make your selection by clicking on the highlighted text.

Path-based annotated hypertext provides a predetermined sequence of pages with annotations that explain and elaborate on the content presented. This format, the one in which the article was originally conceived and written, is truest to the ideas and issues addressed. In addition, since the instructional technology described revolves around the idea of a path, only this version includes a sample elementary grades lesson (utilizing a variety of web resources on the topics of Mars and planetary exploration).

³Traditional² hypertext leaves navigational decisions to readers. This version allows you to create personalized readings by providing lots of choice -- through numerous links -- in the sequence in which pages can be read. Readers who experience problems in the path-based version may want to try this format, since the element most likely to cause problems (scripts) is not included. This version does not, however, present a sample lesson (since this requires the path-based format). Two linear versions are also provided -- a 42K pdf file requiring Acrobat Reader (available free from Adobe's download site), and a 66K word-processed file in rich text format.

It seems to me that my best fit is in the "Write With What?" section. Although my work crosses over both writing and systems development, I am particularly interested in developing and validating reading tools to support learning in largely unstructured literacy environments (particularly the Web.) Looking forward to seeing you in San Antonio!

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