Using Annotations for Asynchronous Peer Conferences


Creative Commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by raindog

I am a believer in open annotation. Recently John Udell asked me to join the advisory team. Simply means I get to complain a little louder. I joke of course. I believe in annotation and I also think educators need to support developers who live in and protect the Open Web.

One of my first contributions was annotating John’s blog post on how two different users can annotate the same PDF even if one file is on the Web and the other file is opened as a local file (a really cool feature).

Dan Whaley joined the party first. What I quickly realized, and my apologies to John for using his work, was educators can use as a editing and revising tool. Teachers can in fact host Asynchronous Peer Conferences within the annotations tools.

How to Edit and Revise in

Leave comments as advice

Annotating for revising is different than annotating for close reading. You are talking to the author and critiquing their work in public. Recognize this fact first. You may choose to make the annotations public or private in

Understand the difference between revision and editing. I revise with a hacksaw and edit with a scalpel. One focuses on ideas and the other on grammar.

In this example you can see the three of us suggesting that John may have missed a targeted audience.

Use Tags

This is not something we did on John’s post. The annotations are self-explanatory. Teachers though can use tags to track student  knowledge growth. So for example in the last annotation I could have added a tag “audience awareness.” Then my teacher could assess my understanding of audience by not just looking at what I write but examining the feedback I leave for other authors.

Track Revisions

I just discovered a great feature of You can see how the original author revised their posts. As long as the section was previously annotated you can examine the changes.

For example I questioned John’s original writing about not including a screencast and disappointing the audience.

Then John updated the blog post

As teachers this can be an invaluable tool. You  see the dialogical relationship between author and annotator. Development That Can Improve Functionality

The embedding needs to be better. When you click share you just get a url. Currently I have to use an iframe and fool around with the width percentage and the height to get the display correct. Parent annotations are not included. So I have to add in each separate annotation.

If I click share I should either get an iframe (yes security issues) or a script that I can embed. All nested replies should be included.

I have not played around with the private and public annotation. A nice feature would be visible only to author (if of course the author is a registered user) and to the teacher. This would require some kind of Teacher Dashboard (already talking to Jeremy Dean about hacking this together using the Stream…that is the next post).

2 responses on “Using Annotations for Asynchronous Peer Conferences”

  1. Hey Greg, Looking forward to your next post. All great suggestions for improvements. I’m @otterscotter, was in the vconnect #digped hangout with you on Friday. I have some basic issues about keeping Hypoth “activated.” It seems like I constantly have to click the Chrome plugin before annotating a page. Is there a reason it can’t always be “on” when I launch Chrome? I ask not because I think you should know, but because of your “role” you may have already talked with the developers about this. Also, it would be cool if it would recognize pages I’ve previously annotated when I visited them again and show the annotations on page load. Just spit balling. I need to get back with Jeremy on these and other features. Too busy. Enjoyed the hangout! Gave @actualham a ride back from the airport tonight. Good context/insight into the institute!

    1. Scott,

      You have to activate the plug-in each time you visit a page because you are basically putting a wrapper around the website. is an annotation layer on top of the web. As of now you always have to activate a page to annotate it.

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