Instant Hypertext:
Learning through Language Links

Donna Reiss
Active Learning Online

Instant Hypertext is a simple workshop activity for faculty or students new to Web page construction or new to using hyperlinks as a way to learn with language. Instant Hypertext also offers an easy way to link Web pages using accessible tools such as a word processor or simple Web editor.

More important for writing classes—or any class that recognizes the ways language facilitates learning—is the use of students' own writing and thinking—not the technology itself—as the emphasis for the activity.

Hypertext and hypermedia offer a variety of opportunities to link information, ideas, images, and media in meaningful ways. By composing and communicating multiple layers of meaning through hypertext, students can generalize, particularize, analyze, and synthesize.

  • Hyperlinks invite multiple entry and departure points and connections with external as well as internal sources.
  • Using words or visual images or both, students can communicate their ideas and elaborate on selected elements for a variety of audiences and in a variety of media. Students can
    • present both linear and recursive connections,
    • collaborate by linking their hypertexts with each other,
    • represent the relationships between their own compositions and other people's, and
    • publish their work for classmates or the world.
  • Because oral and nonverbal elements can be incorporated, both learning itself and communication of learning can be multimedia, multimodal, and multisensory (oral, visual, and auditory).

Hypertext .denotes text composed of blocks of text—what Barthes terms a lexia—and the electronic links that join them. Hypermedia simply extends the notion of the text in hypertext by including visual information, sound, animation, and other forms of data. Since hypertext, which links one passage of verbal discourse to images, maps, diagrams, and sound as easily as to another verbal passage, expands the notion of text beyond the solely verbal, I do not distinguish between hypertext and hypermedia. Hypertext denotes an information medium that links verbal and nonverbal information.

from George P. Landow, "The Definition of Hypertext and Its History as a Concept," Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. 3-4.

Directions for Instant Hypertext Workshop

Instant Hypertext Samples by Faculty and Students

Hypertext Research Project, Electronic Portfolios, and Webquests

Website developed 1996-1998 by D. Reiss with S. Cornell
Copyright ©1996, 1988, 2004 and modified 22 March 2004 by D. Reiss