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6.27. Annotations for Assignments

Assignment Annotations

Instructors can use the built-in Annotation toolbar in Assignments to provide contextual feedback with highlighting, freehand drawing, shapes, and associated commenting. This allows instructors to complete all their evaluation and feedback work directly in Assignments, without the need to use any external tools or applications. Annotations remain editable until the feedback is published by the instructor. (If there is a need to add additional feedback after publishing, they can update the annotations and re-publish them.)

Choose Annotations for New Assignments

Before saving a newly created assignment, add a checkmark to Make annotation tools available for assessment. Edit previously created assignments the same way to add the annotation tools.

Navigate to the Annotation Tools

Open an assignment. Choose Submissions and select a student assignment.

Tool Overview

After opening a submission, the course’s NavBar disappears to make more room for the grading tools. The new tools are placed directly above the submission. The right side of the window shows information about the submission. The evaluation panel reveals a place to use rubrics, enter grades, and the traditional feedback text and audio tools. The annotation tools can be used separately or in conjunction with the legacy tools.

To accommodate mobile and small screen users, the toolbar will collapse to fit screen space. Choose the Annotations icon (pencil/paper) to open the tools menu to see the expanded set of options typically available on full-sized screens.

The right arrow on the left side of the toolbar acts as a toggle. Many of the tool options will revert to the previous state or offer more options when clicked. This becomes intuitive with a little practice.

Paper and pencil icon highlighted and expanded to show Pen/Highlight, Text, and Shapes menu choices

In the fully expanded view, you can see the tool groups for Sidebar, Document, and Annotations in this illustration. You may also hover over icons to read the name of the tool.

Toolbar labeled from Sidebar on the left to Document View, Annotations, Print, Search and Download on the right. Details are further described in the next section.

Sidebar and Document Tools

The Sidebar tools allow users to see the assignment in a Thumbnail or Outline view. Bookmarks may also be added. Clicking the Sidebar icon returns to the 1-page view. The Document tools offer familiar page scrolling and zoom features typically offered in other programs.

Sidebar menu expanded to reveal Thumbnails, Outline and Bookmarks.

Annotation Tools

The Pen (freehand draw) and Highlighter are nested under the Pen icon on the toolbar. Choosing specific tools always opens a submenu to customize options that include color and line thickness.

Pen menu expanded to show drawing and highlighting options. Handdrawn circle used as an example.

Annotations are also editable. Choosing Trash will prompt a decision to delete the last item added. Choose OK to delete. The Pan Mode (hand) icon allows users to select any annotation. With items selected, the submenu tools may be applied to simply edit the annotation. The blue line could be changed to a different color or change the opacity for example. It could also be deleted by using the Trash icon.

Pan symbol highlighted and used to selected a drawn line on student paper. Trash icon selected and OK highlighted.

Selecting Notes opens a list of options in the submenu. Any symbol may be used to start a Note. They remain icons until the mouse hovers over one. The notes window will open to type a message. Notes are editable and can be relocated by choosing Pan, then click and drag to a new location.

Note icon selected to open hidden note. Image symbol items selected to be moved with the Pan icon.

Textboxes are very similar to Notes, but they are constantly visible. The submenu has a large set of customizing options as well. Click anywhere on the page and start typing. Text may be edited or deleted as shown previously. The Rectangle icon offers Lines, Arrows, and Rectangles (of course). Select any items and use the submenu tools to add or modify them as needed.

Sample text and drawn boxes demonstrated on sample student work.

Files and File Types

Evaluators can use highlighting, free-hand drawing, shapes, and associated commenting to provide feedback to learner assignments of the following file types: DOC, DOCX, RTF, ODT, PPT, PPTX, PPSX, ODP, XLS, XLSX, JPG, JPEG, PNG, TIF, TIFF, GIF, and TXT. 

The Annotations viewer includes the Download option. When using annotations in an assignment, instructors can download the original file without navigating to the submission list. Instructors can also download the annotated PDF file.

Download icon and menu choices described in the text.

In Conclusion

This is a powerful and user-friendly way to communicate with students about their assignment submissions. Students can see exactly where there are concerns and also kudos in their assignments. Instructors do not need to write a detailed narrative to explain, which is a time saver. The entire product is inside the course and linked to rubrics and the grade book.


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