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Teaching Tech

Using “The Awesome Highlighter” as a Teaching Tool

If you’re like me, the books crowding your shelves are littered with marginalia; fading reminders of happy readings. And, in an era dominated by digital source material, you’ve likely found yourself barking at your trusty number two pencil “what now?” Give yourself over to The Awesome Highlighter (TAH) and rest assured that some semblance of annotated order will be restored.

TAH is a free program that allows the user to highlight web pages and other online materials with relative ease. Simply enter the web address of the site you wish to mark, highlight the materials you want to keep track of, and TAH produces a URL recording that you can share with other viewers. In English 1020, I often use TAH to highlight key parts of online documents. When I am concerned that students might miss a crucial moment in an article, rather than direct students to the host site I generally mark up the text and provide this updated link to them.

Once you’ve entered the URL (through TAH), and highlighted the text, TAH will give you a new URL that you can use to link over to this page. If you are using a wiki, simply provide this link instead of the original.

Another exercise I’ve found particularly useful is to have students practice using TAH in note-taking exercises. By having students post their links as weekly responses, I am able to assess their reading strategies while producing a database of resources that I can consult during class discussion.

There is mainly one drawback to TAH: Some protected sites, such as those that require a password or subscription, block TAH’s software, preventing users from highlighting materials. Fortunately, I’ve only run into this problem a limited number of times.

Derek Risse is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric & Composition at WSU with research interests in Animal and New Media Studies. He has taught ENG 1020 in the department for several years and is teaching ENG 3010 this Fall.

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