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Enhancing Remote Learning: The Role of an Online Annotation Tool in Education
In today’s digital age, remote learning has become increasingly prevalent, and educators are constantly seeking innovative ways to engage students in virtual classrooms. One such tool that has gained significant traction is the online annotation tool. This powerful software enables students and teachers to collaborate, analyze, and interact with digital content like never before. In this article, we will explore the various benefits of using an online annotation tool in education and how it enhances remote learning.
Facilitating Active Reading and Critical Thinking
The primary purpose of an online annotation tool is to empower students to actively engage with the text they are reading. By allowing them to highlight, underline, or comment on specific passages or words, these tools foster critical thinking skills. Students can annotate important concepts, ask questions, make connections between ideas, and share their thoughts with peers or instructors.
Furthermore, online annotation tools often provide a platform for collaborative learning. Students can view each other’s annotations and respond with their own insights. This not only encourages active participation but also creates a dynamic learning environment where students can learn from one another.
Personalized Learning Experience
One of the key advantages of using an online annotation tool is its ability to personalize the learning experience for each student. These tools allow learners to customize their annotations based on their individual preferences and needs.
For instance, students can use different colors for highlighting different types of information (e.g., main ideas vs. supporting details). They can also add personal notes or summaries alongside the text to aid comprehension and retention. By tailoring their annotations to suit their unique learning styles, students can better process information and make connections between concepts.
Efficient Feedback Mechanism
Traditionally, providing feedback on student assignments was a time-consuming process for teachers. With an online annotation tool, however, this task becomes much more efficient.
Teachers can use these tools to annotate students’ work directly, offering feedback, suggestions, and corrections in real-time. This immediate feedback loop helps students understand their mistakes and make necessary improvements promptly. Moreover, the online nature of these tools allows for seamless communication between teachers and students, even in a remote learning environment.
Collaboration and Community Building
One of the challenges of remote learning is the lack of face-to-face interaction. Online annotation tools address this issue by providing a space for collaboration and community building.
Students can engage in discussions about specific annotations or participate in group projects where they collectively annotate a text. This collaborative approach fosters social interaction and encourages students to work together towards a common goal. Additionally, these tools also enable teachers to create shared annotation spaces where the entire class can contribute their insights on a particular topic.
In conclusion, an online annotation tool is an invaluable asset for enhancing remote learning in education. By promoting active reading, critical thinking, personalized learning experiences, efficient feedback mechanisms, collaboration, and community building, these tools empower both students and teachers in the virtual classroom. As technology continues to advance, it is crucial for educators to embrace innovative tools like online annotation software to adapt to the evolving landscape of education.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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- How to Write an Annotation
One of the greatest challenges students face is adjusting to college reading expectations. Unlike high school, students in college are expected to read more “academic” type of materials in less time and usually recall the information as soon as the next class.
The problem is many students spend hours reading and have no idea what they just read. Their eyes are moving across the page, but their mind is somewhere else. The end result is wasted time, energy, and frustration…and having to read the text again.
Although students are taught how to read at an early age, many are not taught how to actively engage with written text or other media. Annotation is a tool to help you learn how to actively engage with a text or other media.
View the following video about how to annotate a text.
Annotating a text or other media (e.g. a video, image, etc.) is as much about you as it is the text you are annotating. What are YOUR responses to the author’s writing, claims and ideas? What are YOU thinking as you consider the work? Ask questions, challenge, think!
When we annotate an author’s work, our minds should encounter the mind of the author, openly and freely. If you met the author at a party, what would you like to tell to them; what would you like to ask them? What do you think they would say in response to your comments? You can be critical of the text, but you do not have to be. If you are annotating properly, you often begin to get ideas that have little or even nothing to do with the topic you are annotating. That’s fine: it’s all about generating insights and ideas of your own. Any good insight is worth keeping because it may make for a good essay or research paper later on.
The Secret is in the Pen
One of the ways proficient readers read is with a pen in hand. They know their purpose is to keep their attention on the material by:
- Predicting what the material will be about
- Questioning the material to further understanding
- Determining what’s important
- Identifying key vocabulary
- Summarizing the material in their own words, and
- Monitoring their comprehension (understanding) during and after engaging with the material
The same applies for mindfully viewing a film, video, image or other media.
Annotating a Text
Review the video, “How to Annotate a Text.” Pay attention to both how to make annotations and what types of thoughts and ideas may be part of your annotations as you actively read a written text.
Example Assignment Format: Annotating a Written Text
For the annotation of reading assignments in this class, you will cite and comment on a minimum of FIVE (5) phrases, sentences or passages from notes you take on the selected readings.
Here is an example format for an assignment to annotate a written text:
Example Assignment Format: Annotating Media
In addition to annotating written text, at times you will have assignments to annotate media (e.g., videos, images or other media). For the annotation of media assignments in this class, you will cite and comment on a minimum of THREE (3) statements, facts, examples, research or any combination of those from the notes you take about selected media.
Here is an example format for an assignment to annotate media:
- Provided by : Lumen Learning. Located at : http://www.lumenlearning.com/ . License : CC BY: Attribution
- Authored by : Paul Powell . Provided by : Central Community College. Project : Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative. License : CC BY: Attribution
- Authored by : Elisabeth Ellington and Ronda Dorsey Neugebauer . Provided by : Chadron State College. Project : Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative. License : CC BY: Attribution
- Annotating a Text. Authored by : HaynesEnglish. Located at : http://youtu.be/pf9CTJj9dCM . License : All Rights Reserved . License Terms : Standard YouTube license
- How to Annotate a Text. Authored by : Kthiebau90. Located at : http://youtu.be/IzrWOj0gWHU . License : All Rights Reserved . License Terms : Standard YouTube License
- Table of Contents
Instructor Resources (Access Requires Login)
- Overview of Instructor Resources
An Overview of the Writing Process
- Introduction to the Writing Process
- Introduction to Writing
- Your Role as a Learner
- What is an Essay?
- Reading to Write
- Defining the Writing Process
- Videos: Prewriting Techniques
- Thesis Statements
- Organizing an Essay
- Creating Paragraphs
- Editing and Proofreading
- Matters of Grammar, Mechanics, and Style
- Peer Review Checklist
- Comparative Chart of Writing Strategies
- Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Avoiding Plagiarism
- Formatting the Works Cited Page (MLA)
- Citing Paraphrases and Summaries (APA)
- APA Citation Style, 6th edition: General Style Guidelines
- Definitional Argument Essay
- How to Write a Definition Essay
- Critical Thinking
- Video: Thesis Explained
- Effective Thesis Statements
- Student Sample: Definition Essay
- Introduction to Narrative Essay
- Student Sample: Narrative Essay
- "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell
- "Sixty-nine Cents" by Gary Shteyngart
- Video: The Danger of a Single Story
- How to Write a Summary
- Writing for Success: Narration
- Introduction to Illustration/Example Essay
- "She's Your Basic L.O.L. in N.A.D" by Perri Klass
- "April & Paris" by David Sedaris
- Writing for Success: Illustration/Example
- Student Sample: Illustration/Example Essay
- Introduction to Compare/Contrast Essay
- "Disability" by Nancy Mairs
- "Friending, Ancient or Otherwise" by Alex Wright
- "A South African Storm" by Allison Howard
- Writing for Success: Compare/Contrast
- Student Sample: Compare/Contrast Essay
- Introduction to Cause-and-Effect Essay
- "Cultural Baggage" by Barbara Ehrenreich
- "Women in Science" by K.C. Cole
- Writing for Success: Cause and Effect
- Student Sample: Cause-and-Effect Essay
- Introduction to Argument Essay
- Rogerian Argument
- "The Case Against Torture," by Alisa Soloman
- "The Case for Torture" by Michael Levin
- How to Write a Summary by Paraphrasing Source Material
- Writing for Success: Argument
- Student Sample: Argument Essay
- Grammar/Mechanics Mini-lessons
- Mini-lesson: Subjects and Verbs, Irregular Verbs, Subject Verb Agreement
- Mini-lesson: Sentence Types
- Mini-lesson: Fragments I
- Mini-lesson: Run-ons and Comma Splices I
- Mini-lesson: Comma Usage
- Mini-lesson: Parallelism
- Mini-lesson: The Apostrophe
- Mini-lesson: Capital Letters
- Grammar Practice - Interactive Quizzes
- De Copia - Demonstration of the Variety of Language
- Style Exercise: Voice
Understanding & Interacting with a Text
Annotations, definition and purpose.
Annotating literally means taking notes within the text as you read. As you annotate, you may combine a number of reading strategies—predicting, questioning, dealing with patterns and main ideas, analyzing information—as you physically respond to a text by recording your thoughts. Annotating may occur on a first or second reading of the text, depending on the text’s difficulty or length. You may annotate in different formats, either in the margins of the text or in a separate notepad or document. The main thing to remember is that annotation is at the core of active reading. By reading carefully and pausing to reflect upon, mark up, and add notes to a text as you read, you can greatly improve your understanding of that text.
Think of annotating a text in terms of having a conversation with the author in real time. You wouldn’t sit passively while the author talked at you. You wouldn’t be able to get clarification or ask questions. Your thought processes would probably close down and you would not engage in thinking about larger meanings related to the topic. Conversation works best when people are active participants. Annotation is a form of active involvement with a text.
Reasons to Annotate
There are a number of reasons to annotate a text:
- Annotation ultimately saves reading time. While it may take more time up front as you read, annotating while you read can help you avoid having to re-read passages in order to get the meaning. That’s because…
- Annotation improves understanding. By pausing to reflect as you read, annotating a text helps you figure out if you’re understanding what you’re reading. If not, you can immediately re-read or seek additional information to improve your understanding. This is called “monitoring comprehension.”
- Annotation increases your odds of remembering what you’ve read, because you write those annotations in your own words, making the information your own. You also leave behind a set of notes that can help you find key information the next time you need to refer to that text.
- Annotation provides a record of your deeper questions and thoughts as you read, insights related to analyzing, interpreting, and going beyond the text into related issues. Annotations such as these will be useful when you’re asked to respond to a text through reacting, applying, analyzing, and synthesizing, since these types of annotations record your own thoughts. Much academic work in college is intended to get you to offer your own, informed thoughts (as opposed to simple recall and regurgitation of information); annotating a text helps you capture key personal, analytical insights as you read.
The following video offers a brief, clear example of annotating a text.
What to Annotate
You’ll find that you’re annotating differently in different texts, depending on your background knowledge of the topic, your own ease with reading the text, and the type of text, among other variables. There’s no single formula for annotating a text. Instead, there are different types of annotations that you may make, depending on the particular text.
- Mark the thesis or main idea sentence, if there is one in the text. Or note the implied main idea. In either case, phrase that main idea in your own words.
- Mark places that seem important, interesting, and/or confusing.
- Note your agreement or disagreement with an idea in the text.
- Link a concept in the text to your own experience.
- Write a reminder to look up something – an unknown word, a difficult concept, or a related idea that occurred to you.
- Record questions you have about what you are reading. These questions generally fall into two different categories, to clarify meaning and to evaluate what you’ve read.
- Note any biases unstated assumptions (your own included).
- Paraphrase a difficult passage by putting it into your own words.
- Summarize a lengthy section of a text to extract the main ideas–again in your own words.
- Note important transition words that show a shift in thought; transitions show how the author is linking ideas. This is especially important if you’re reading and annotating a text intended to persuade the reader to a particular point of view, as it allows you to clarify and evaluate the author’s line of reasoning.
- Note repeated words or phrases; it’s likely that such emphasis relates to a key concept or main idea.
- Note the writer’s tone—straightforward, sarcastic, sincere, witty—and how it influences the ideas presented.
- Note idea linkages between this text and another text.
- Note idea linkages between this text and key concepts or theories of a discipline. For example, does the author offer examples relating to theories of motivation that you’re studying in a psychology class?
- And more…again, annotations vary according to the text and your background in the text’s topic.
View the following video, which reviews reading strategies for approximately the first three minutes and then moves into a comprehensive discussion of the types of things to annotate in non-fiction texts.
How to Annotate
Make sure to annotate through writing. Do not – do not – simply highlight or underline existing words in the text. While your annotations may start with a few underlined words or sentences, you should always complete your thoughts through a written annotation that identifies why you underlined those words (e.g., key ideas, your own reaction to something, etc.). The pitfall of highlighting is that readers tend to do it too much, and then have to go back to the original text and re-read most of it. By writing annotations in your own words, you’ve already moved to a higher level in your conversation with the text.
If you don’t want to write in a margin of a book or article, use sticky notes for your annotations. If the text is in electronic form, then the format itself may have built-in annotation tools, or write in a Word document which allows you to paste sentences and passages that you want to annotate.
You may also want to create your own system of symbols to mark certain things such as main idea (*), linkage to ideas in another text (+), confusing information that needs to be researched further (!), or similar idea (=). The symbols and marks should make sense to you, and you should apply them consistently from text to text, so that they become an easy shorthand for annotation. However, annotations should not consist of symbols only; you need to include words to remember why you marked the text in that particular place.
Above all, be selective about what to mark; if you end up annotating most of a page or even most of a paragraph, nothing will stand out, and you will have defeated the purpose of annotating.
Here’s one brief example of annotation:
What follows is a sample annotation of the first few paragraphs of an article from CNN, “One quarter of giant panda habitat lost in Sichuan quake,” July 29, 2009. Sample annotations are in color.
“The earthquake in Sichuan, southwestern China, last May left around 69,000 people dead and 15 million people displaced. Now ecologists have assessed the earthquake’s impact on biodiversity look this word up and the habitat for some of the last existing wild giant pandas.
According to the report published in “Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment,” 23 percent of the pandas’ habitat in the study area was destroyed, and fragmentation of the remaining habitat could hinder panda reproduction. How was this data gathered? Do we know that fragmentation will hinder panda reproduction?
The Sichuan region is designated as a global hotspot for biodiversity, according to Conservation International. Home to more than 12,000 species of plants and 1.122 species of vertebrates, the area includes more than half of the habitat for the Earth’s wild giant panda population, said study author Weihua Xu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.” So can we assume that having so much of the pandas/ habitat destroyed will impact other species here?
Link to two additional examples of what and how to annotate
- Invention: Annotating a Text from Hunter College, included as a link in Maricopa Community College’s Reading 100 open educational resource. There’s a very clearly-annotated sample text at the end of this handout.
- Ethnic Varieties by Walt Wolfram, included as a link in Let’s Get Writing.
Summary: Annotation = Making Connections
The video below offers a review of reading concepts in the first part, focused on the concept of reading as connecting with a text. From approximately mid-way to the end, the video offers a good extended example and discussion of annotating a text.
Note: if you want to try annotating an article and find the one in the video difficult to read, you may want to practice on a similar article about the same topic, “ Tinker V. Des Moines Independent Community School District: Kelly Shackelford on Symbolic Speech ” on the blog of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Read the paragraphs from “ Cultural Relativism ” that deal with the sociological perspective. Annotate the paragraphs with insights, questions, and thoughts that occur to you as you read.
- Annotations, includes material adapted from Excelsior College Online Reading Lab, Let's Get Writing, UMRhetLab, Reading 100, and Basic Reading and Writing; attributions below. Authored by : Susan Oaks. License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
- Annotating: Creating an Annotation System. Provided by : Excelsior College. Located at : https://owl.excelsior.edu/orc/what-to-do-while-reading/annotating/annotating-creating-an-annotation-system/ . Project : Excelsior College Online Reading lab. License : CC BY: Attribution
- Chapter 1 - Critical Reading. Authored by : Elizabeth Browning. Provided by : Virginia Western Community College. Located at : https://vwcceng111.pressbooks.com/chapter/chapter-1-critical-reading/#whileyouread . Project : Let's Get Writing. License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
- Strategies for Active Reading. Authored by : Guy Krueger.. Provided by : University of Mississippi. Located at : https://courses.lumenlearning.com/olemiss-writing100/chapter/strategies-for-active-reading/ . Project : UMRhetLab. License : CC BY: Attribution
- Annotating a Text (from Hunter College). Provided by : Maricopa Community College. Located at : https://learn.maricopa.edu/courses/904536/files/32965647?module_item_id=7199522 . Project : Reading 100. License : CC BY: Attribution
- Summary Skills. Provided by : Lumen Learning. Located at : https://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-basicreadingwriting/chapter/outcome-summary-skills/ . Project : Basic Reading and Writing. License : CC BY: Attribution
- image of open book with colored tabs and colored pencils. Authored by : Luisella Planeta . Provided by : Pixabay. Located at : https://pixabay.com/photos/books-pencils-pens-map-dictionary-3826148/ . License : CC0: No Rights Reserved
- video Textbook Reading Strategies - Annotate the Text. Authored by : DistanceLearningKCC. Provided by : Kirkwood Community College. Located at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bE1ot8KWJrk . License : Other . License Terms : YouTube video
- video Annotating Non-Fiction Texts. Authored by : Arri Weeks. Located at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrvNIVF9EbI . License : Other . License Terms : YouTube video
- video Making Connections During Reading. Provided by : WarnerJordanEducation. Located at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hF54mvmFkxg . License : Other . License Terms : YouTube video
What is annotation.
Annotation can be:
- A systematic summary of the text that you create within the document
- A key tool for close reading that helps you uncover patterns, notice important words, and identify main points
- An active learning strategy that improves comprehension and retention of information
- Isolate and organize important material
- Identify key concepts
- Monitor your learning as you read
- Make exam prep effective and streamlined
- Can be more efficient than creating a separate set of reading notes
How do you annotate?
Summarize key points in your own words .
- Use headers and words in bold to guide you
- Look for main ideas, arguments, and points of evidence
- Notice how the text organizes itself. Chronological order? Idea trees? Etc.
Circle key concepts and phrases
- What words would it be helpful to look-up at the end?
- What terms show up in lecture? When are different words used for similar concepts? Why?
Write brief comments and questions in the margins
- Be as specific or broad as you would like—use these questions to activate your thinking about the content
- See our handout on reading comprehension tips for some examples
Use abbreviations and symbols
- Try ? when you have a question or something you need to explore further
- Try ! When something is interesting, a connection, or otherwise worthy of note
- Try * For anything that you might use as an example or evidence when you use this information.
- Ask yourself what other system of symbols would make sense to you.
- Highlight or underline, but mindfully. Check out our resource on strategic highlighting for tips on when and how to highlight.
Use comment and highlight features built into pdfs, online/digital textbooks, or other apps and browser add-ons
- Are you using a pdf? Explore its highlight, edit, and comment functions to support your annotations
- Some browsers have add-ons or extensions that allow you to annotate web pages or web-based documents
- Does your digital or online textbook come with an annotation feature?
- Can your digital text be imported into a note-taking tool like OneNote, EverNote, or Google Keep? If so, you might be able to annotate texts in those apps
What are the most important takeaways?
- Annotation is about increasing your engagement with a text
- Increased engagement, where you think about and process the material then expand on your learning, is how you achieve mastery in a subject
- As you annotate a text, ask yourself: how would I explain this to a friend?
- Put things in your own words and draw connections to what you know and wonder
The table below demonstrates this process using a geography textbook excerpt (Press 2004):
A common concern about annotating texts: It takes time!
Yes, it can, but that time isn’t lost—it’s invested.
Spending the time to annotate on the front end does two important things:
- It saves you time later when you’re studying. Your annotated notes will help speed up exam prep, because you can review critical concepts quickly and efficiently.
- It increases the likelihood that you will retain the information after the course is completed. This is especially important when you are supplying the building blocks of your mind and future career.
One last tip: Try separating the reading and annotating processes! Quickly read through a section of the text first, then go back and annotate.
Nist, S., & Holschuh, J. (2000). Active learning: strategies for college success. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. 202-218.
Simpson, M., & Nist, S. (1990). Textbook annotation: An effective and efficient study strategy for college students. Journal of Reading, 34: 122-129.
Press, F. (2004). Understanding earth (4th ed). New York: W.H. Freeman. 208-210.
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Reading and Study Strategies
What is annotating and why do it, annotation explained, steps to annotating a source, annotating strategies.
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Software for Annotating
ProQuest Flow (sign up with your EWU email)
FoxIt PDF Reader
Adobe Reader Pro - available on all campus computers
Track Changes in Microsoft Word
What is Annotating?
Annotating is any action that deliberately interacts with a text to enhance the reader's understanding of, recall of, and reaction to the text. Sometimes called "close reading," annotating usually involves highlighting or underlining key pieces of text and making notes in the margins of the text. This page will introduce you to several effective strategies for annotating a text that will help you get the most out of your reading.
By annotating a text, you will ensure that you understand what is happening in a text after you've read it. As you annotate, you should note the author's main points, shifts in the message or perspective of the text, key areas of focus, and your own thoughts as you read. However, annotating isn't just for people who feel challenged when reading academic texts. Even if you regularly understand and remember what you read, annotating will help you summarize a text, highlight important pieces of information, and ultimately prepare yourself for discussion and writing prompts that your instructor may give you. Annotating means you are doing the hard work while you read, allowing you to reference your previous work and have a clear jumping-off point for future work.
1. Survey : This is your first time through the reading
You can annotate by hand or by using document software. You can also annotate on post-its if you have a text you do not want to mark up. As you annotate, use these strategies to make the most of your efforts:
- Include a key or legend on your paper that indicates what each marking is for, and use a different marking for each type of information. Example: Underline for key points, highlight for vocabulary, and circle for transition points.
- If you use highlighters, consider using different colors for different types of reactions to the text. Example: Yellow for definitions, orange for questions, and blue for disagreement/confusion.
- Dedicate different tasks to each margin: Use one margin to make an outline of the text (thesis statement, description, definition #1, counter argument, etc.) and summarize main ideas, and use the other margin to note your thoughts, questions, and reactions to the text.
Lastly, as you annotate, make sure you are including descriptions of the text as well as your own reactions to the text. This will allow you to skim your notations at a later date to locate key information and quotations, and to recall your thought processes more easily and quickly.
- Next: Using a Dictionary >>
- Last Updated: Jul 21, 2021 3:01 PM
- URL: https://research.ewu.edu/writers_c_read_study_strategies
Annotating to Deepen Understanding (English III Reading)
Introduction, how to annotate, annotating with purpose, annotating on tests.
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