Social Annotation helps students prepare for class and get ready to WRITE

Many FWS instructors use digital social annotation tools to teach students different ways to: take notes on course readings, begin classroom discussions in the margins of assigned readings, and even facilitate peer review. Over the last two years, since the Center for Teaching Innovation began partnerships with two excellent social annotation app developers (Perusall and, many students have celebrated in FWS course evaluations the many ways that the practice of social annotation enhanced and deepened their learning and readied them to participate in class activities and draft writing assignments.  

As we prepare for the Spring 2022 semester, and especially our first two weeks of online instruction, please consider adding a social annotation app to your Canvas site and building lesson plans around this innovative instructional tool.

Learn about the Hypothesis social annotation tool and how to use it in your course in CTI's upcoming Hypothesis workshop.


From the Center for Teaching Innovation's website:

What is social annotation?

Social annotation is reading and thinking together. It brings the age-old process of marking up texts to the digital learning space while making it a collaborative exercise. Imagine a group of students opening a PDF or webpage, then highlighting, commenting on, and sharing ideas about the text, video, or images they see, all within the margins of the text. 

Why use social annotation?

When we read and think together, a text can become a richer learning object. We can learn how others make sense of a reading or how they deconstruct the text. Annotation can help a class understand the mechanisms behind building an argument or offer them the space to flag portions of the text that are unclear. Annotating online can embed a class discussion within the text itself.

Studies have shown that social annotation can assist students with:

  • processing domain-specific knowledge
  • supporting argumentation and inquiry
  • improving literacy skills
  • connecting online learning spaces.

“Annotation provides information, shares commentary, sparks conversation, expresses power, and aids learning.” Remi Kalir and Antero Garcia, 2019.

Tracy Hamler Carrick


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