Annotation tools for online teaching and learning in higher education

This post is a short recap of collaborative annotation tools that I have found to be currently available (as of January 2018) and appear to be suitable for online teaching and learning in higher education. Over the past semesters, I have gradually been incorporating annotation tools in my online courses, starting with text and now branching out to video and audio. I found numerous options, but after reviewing them, many were either out of date and not able to be used, would not easily work for an online class as they required extensive scaffolding for use, or not technically feasible. I also did not want to use anything that would require students to install browser-specific extensions or download software and figure out how to use it, as providing that detailed nature of technical troubleshooting for questions tends to add a lot of complexity that can detract from the course’s learning goals.

Text annotation

  • hypothes.is
    • create private groups for each semester/course
    • can annotate websites or PDF downloads
    • extensive support materials for both instructors and students
    • used this last semester and it worked well – plan to continue using it for current semester
  • Diigo
    • create private groups
    • in addition to text annotation, could also use the group for sharing resources
  • Annotation Studio
    • examples of class use for instructors
    • support for mobile learning is in the works!

Video annotation

  • VideoAnt
    • only works with YouTube videos
  • Reclipped
    • can use as a Chrome browser extension and via bookmarklet
    • supports YouTube, Vimeo, and TED – I use videos from all three platforms in my courses
    • looks to be mobile-friendly…will look into this more
  • Vialogues
    • create group to share annotations (not clear if this is a private group)
    • works with YouTube or Vimeo
  • VideoNot.es
    • integrates with Google Drive to timestamp and share notes – not sure if this means that all students in a course could take notes on one shared doc. No documentation available on site to check this out prior to signing up
    • can use videos from YouTube or Vimeo
  • Synote
    • looks like it can be used for video and audio annotation – I requested an account to further explore

Audio annotation

Finding suitable annotation tools for audio has been the most challenging component. I’m looking for a tool that will allow collaborative annotations on a number of podcast platforms (something similar to what the Reclipped tool for video offers, but for audio). I only found one that might work, but if that doesn’t pan out, I may ask students to take notes/summarize in a learning journal…still thinking about how this might work…

  • Soundcloud
    • create private groups
    • further explore: can users’ comments on public tracks be limited to the private group?
  • Annotation Studio is exploring “fine-grained annotation of images, video, and audio,” so that’s another option to keep in mind for the future

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