Social annotation tips

Social annotation on the web brings the age-old process of marking up texts to the digital learning space and makes it a collaborative exercise. Students can open a PDF or webpage, then highlight, comment on, and share ideas about the text, video, or images they see, all within the margins of the "text."

The social annotation tools CTI supports are Perusall and Hypothesis.

Social annotation can be used for:

  • fostering class discussions about a selected reading
  • populating a reading with "sign-posts" that help guide students through a text
  • scanning an assigned reading to discover "heatmaps" for interaction

Tips for creating and facilitating social annotation

  • Vary uses of social annotation: student participation in a reading can be automatically graded based on a selected number of annotations, but can also be used for non-graded community-building and shared discourse
  • Add expectations to the syllabus about the purpose of annotations
  • Do a sample annotation in real-time (The syllabus might be good for this)
  • Encourage participation by offering feedback either within the text or privately within the Canvas SpeedGrader
  • Encourage engagement by posting images and videos that extend the text in interesting ways (e.g., post a supplementary YouTube video related to the author, theory, or subject matter in the text)
  • Consider having students use social annotation tools in private mode for their own study needs and deep reading

Technical considerations

  • To provide students a larger annotation window, check the box next to Load in a new tab when creating a new Hypothesis or Perusall assignment or module item in Canvas
  • Choose carefully when choosing between available application options (our comparison of social annotation tools describes the differences)
  • Note that document annotations will not transfer during Canvas course copy

Accessibility tips