How Textopian saved my online course, and why it's going to be the cornerstone of future teaching

Amidst the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, teachers everywhere have struggled with the rapid switch to blended and online instruction. Zoom fatigue is very, very real, and the task of fostering community in an online interface is daunting. Beyond the inconsistent framework of laggy connections, muted microphones, and disabled webcams, students thrive from opportunities to connect asynchronously with new digital pedagogies.  Textopian is just this kind of tool, and it has been the greatest silver lining of teaching in the pandemic.

The tool allows students to engage assigned texts collaboratively, annotate readings across different permission levels with intuitive emojis, videos, and pictures, and explore allusions, character dynamics, and vocabulary at a level I never thought imaginable. The site currently hosts approximately ~2,000 canonical texts, but the collection is still growing and users can upload their own PDFs, for the shared reference of book clubs, scholarly working groups, classes, and institutions. Textopian is here to stay, and it's going be the cornerstone of my future teaching, research, and service communities.

Here are some of the comments on Textopian submitted anonymously by students in my spring 2021 first-year writing seminar at the University of Richmond:

Textopian holds incredible potential to stimulate enhanced learning outcomes across all disciplines, and I'm excited to see how it will help students to grow and connect to new books!

-Michael Marsh-Soloway, PhD