We hope you and your family are well in these unprecedented times.
As the summer of 2020 begins much is uncertain in this huge but tiny world of ours.
We kind of hope you’ve put down your grading/marking hat for some time off, although our users span the globe and all sorts of academic calendars and schedules. So chances are you are currently teaching, thinking about teaching, or thinking about thinking about teaching.
In March, as the world rushed pell mell into “online education,” we saw large increases in user signups and usage of AP.
In early April we made the decision to provide all of AP’s paid features and content available, for free, to all individual users through December 31, 2020. If you had paid for an individual license you’ll find that your subscription has been extended by 7.5 months.
Since that crazy initial boom in usage we’ve been hunkered down, working on a major update to Annotate PRO for Chrome (soon to be for Microsoft Edge!) and want to share with our users what is coming…
We’ve rebuilt our Chrome Extension from the ground up, streamlining it, making it faster, adding some small but crucial features while expanding compatability with education platforms. We hope to release this updated version to all users by July 1, 2020 but you can sign up for our beta program and try it today!
Finally, we’ve adjusted our institutional pricing to reflect growing demand for Annotate PRO: we’ve dropped our minimum number of instructors required to share Libraries from twenty-five to three.
A small group of faculty at your instution could be sharing AP Libraries starting at $150 per year ($50/faculty/year). Of course we offer bulk discounts and you can also pay a flat fee to cover your entire institution regardless of the number of users.
Before we get into the new features AND content that are coming, we’d like to ask you help. As a company focused on feedback we of course have to welcome feedback on our solutions! We’d be honored if you would take the time to provide feedback on AP, let us know how you use it, and what features might be most use to you.
Take three minutes to provide us with crucial feedback on what matters to you and where you think AP should go next…
So what new features are coming in the next release of AP for Chrome (and Edge!)?
- A ‘Quick Settings’ menu available from the sidebar to adjust common settings (look for the lightning bolt).
- Improved text rendering when inserting Comments – to preserve bolding, links, carriage returns where possible depending on the destination: Canvas, Schoology, Gmail, D2L Brightspace, Google Classroom etc.
- Toolbar support for Gmail and Microsoft Outlook (web only).
- Google Translate baked into the sidebar and popup. Translate between two languages or even provide dual language comments. You can use AP to type a completely new comment then insert a translation – into Gmail, an LMS…almost anywhere you might enter text.
- Option to make the sidebar go “double-wide.”
- Option to show the toolbars everywhere. This is a true beta feature – your mileage may vary with showing toolbars on random pages. If you’d really like to see toolbars available on a particular solution email us!
- Smarter toolbar loading.
- Bug fixes – many of them.
- The April 25, 2020 release of the Canvas LMS broke AP’s SpeedGrader integration. If you use SpeedGrader you need the AP beta!
- Improved log in experience including support for Microsoft single sign-on (to go along with our Google SSO support).
- Much improved support for Microsoft Teams and Word Online.
- Highlight some text in a Word Online document, choose a comment from AP, and a comment bubble is created with your selected text. Magic! Turn on one-click and hammer through early drafts of student work.
Get a quick sense of support for Microsoft Teams and Word Online, Gmail, Outlook on the Web, D2L Brightspace, Schoology, Google Classroom…click an image for a larger view!
- Much improved support for Google Classroom including the ability to comment on Word documents submitted to Classroom.
- One-click commenting for Word Online and Canvas SpeedGrader (feature was previously only available for Google Docs).
- Improved support for D2L Brightspace and Schoology including their document markup solutions in full screen.
- All Settings are now available from inside the Chrome Extension (previously you had to visit your Account page on the full web version of AP). Including:
- Toolbar location (off, right, top, right & top
- Toolbar “Double-Wide” – make the AP sidebar wider. Great for wide monitors!
- History (off, on-anonymized, on-student history)
- History location (off, right toolbar, top toolbar, right & top toolbars)
- Search options (search Comment Label and Full Text, Search only the Label)
- Google Translate on/off
- One-click Commenting
- A faster, more compact AP!
Microsoft Edge, the default browser for all Windows computers, now supports Chrome Extensions. You can add AP today by checking off one option in Edge settings. We’ll be releasing the new AP to the Edge Extension store soon so you can get it directly.
Install AP in Microsoft Edge
Microsoft’s default browser, Edge, now runs on the same underlying engine as Google Chrome. Which means you can run Chrome Extensions in Edge. Neat!
Like Microsoft, we consider this new ground and haven’t done much beyond basic validation ourselves. You can uninstall AP from Edge in seconds, so it’s probably worth trying if you prefer to use Edge over Chrome.
Here’s how to install AP in Edge:
- Click the three horizontal dots in the upper right corner of the Edge browser to open a settings menu.
- Click Extensions in the resulting menu.
- Enable the “Allow extensions from other stores” switch in the lower left corner of the resulting Extensions page.
- You’ll see a confirmation request – since Microsoft hasn’t validated the thousands of Extensions in the Chrome Webstore they want you to acknowledge results may be unpredictable.
- Now you can browse to the Chrome Webstore and install using our existing instructions!
We’re also working on new content libraries.
Namely, Discussion Engagement Edition and School Resources Edition Libraries.
AP works beautifully in Canvas, Blackboard, Schoology, D2L, Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams – not just for marking papers but for responding to discussions and chats.
Our data shows that much feedback provided by teachers is transactional – it focuses on mechanics: typos, commas and the like.
Mechanics are important – try getting a job at Google or Nike with a typo-riddled cover letter.
But learners need deeper feedback. They need coaching on how to challenge their fellow students constructively. They need to understand when they could be doing more, when their tone becomes unprofessional. They need to know when they’ve done something wonderful.
This is hard feedback to give – time consuming, bandwidth intensive.
Through our own expertise (obsession?) with feedback and work with a leading expert in the area of online writing instruction and managing constructive asynchronous conversations we hope to launch a groundbreaking library of interventions and engagement templates that teachers can use in chats, discussions and emails. The Discussion Engagement Edition Library.
Just as importantly, especially in these challenging times, instructors need to be able to efficiently connect students with the myriad resources available to them. AP is really just a knowledge base – optimized for providing academic feedback. Many of our client institutions and individual users have built lists of school resources into their libraries to help get targeted resource information to students through instructor feedback.
Imagine a Library, available to all faculty, advisors, librarians and others who interact directly with students, that organizes information on tutoring, writing center, library contact, academic policies, financial aid, advising, disability services, counseling and on and on. Those who know students best can quickly search these resources and add to a personalized Canvas message or Gmail or Microsoft Teams chat. Your institution can manage this database centrally, making sure it is accurate as situations change.
Best of all, we’ll be providing service with this library for institutions – 11trees will create a School Resources Library unique to your institution, doing most of the heavy lifting to get you started. Then your staff can augment and update, ensuring everyone has the latest and greatest.
Institutions can contact us now to explore this offering.
In the spirit of our strong ‘forever-free’ ethos, we’ll be making an outline version of this Library available to all users for free – so individuals can use it to fill out their own personalized version. We anticipate a percentage of such users will see huge value and take it to their school administration for broader application.
Later in the summer we’ll be bringing sorting to Favorites for all paid users (which is everyone through December 31, 2020) – one of our most requested features. We’re also working on an importer so you can bring QuickMark™ Libraries from your Turnitint™ account into AP.
You can have a voice in what features we build by completing our quick AP user feedback survey.
We look forward to your feedback and thoughts as we move towards the second half of 2020…a time that promises to be challenging and leave us all very different than we were in the summer of 2019. We are optimistic that this terrible time, and the tragedy it has wrought, will help us become a better global civilization.
Andrew and the 11trees team