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About 11trees began life, in 2008, simply trying to put a dent in the mountain of paper (and time) that a year’s worth of writing, grading, and commenting creates.

Back then, the average teacher collects over 11 trees-worth of paper from their students in a single year: by asking students to write essays, by creating handouts and quizzes, through printing syllabi etc. (This is based on a ream of paper requiring 6% of a ‘standard’ tree and calculating out the numbers of pages generated by an average class etc.).

Okay, it was an inspiration – not exact science.

Our name is also a tribute to 37signals (now just, a company we admire greatly and who write write write about creation and entrepreneurship and software development. We liked the idea of having numbers at the start of our name and keeping it short. The ’11’ also echoes one-to-one computing initiatives and, ultimately, the one-to-one nature of dialog and feedback. Yes, we’re English teachers and lovers of language at heart.

We created Annotate PRO (back then just for Windows) to help writing teachers more quickly manage grading and returning documents to students.

We’ve focused on writing ever since, introducing a Legal Writing Edition of Annotate and the free Writers’ Toolkit, which can replace an $80 writing handbook while giving students faster access to help on grammar, syntax, style, and formatting. We’ve broadened our solutions to cover macOS and now ChromeOS.

Thousands of teachers and students around the world use our solutions to work more efficiently. We like to think we’re helping them make a bigger impact through better writing, whether for school assignments or feedback for another writer.

But 11trees was always a side project.

In 2016, as Microsoft finally got its act together and Chromebooks finished taking over the K12 world, we saw an opportunity to make a big impact. We reflected on our deep experience in the software development worlds of NYC and Austin, TX, our realization that the technology world spends its days writing, and our many visits to high schools and universities across the US and time spent with instructors and senior leadership. We saw many writing-oriented solutions out there, all requiring users “log into the platform” to gain any value. We know we love our Google Docs and Microsoft Word and Canvas – we don’t want to go to some shadow of these beautiful solutions to create. We realized we could build huge value on top of  Microsoft Word and Google Chrome. And, crucially, we know writing – indeed academic success and persistence – is about way more than grammar.

So we’ve been heads down in 2017, getting ready to launch solutions for teachers and students:

  • Better feedback through a rebooted Annotate PRO solution that makes libraries of comments available anywhere you go: Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Canvas, Google Classroom, Gmail…Libraries are easily shareable – scaling great feedback across entire institutions. And, while reducing time spent grading by up to 30% while improving the quality of response, Annotate PRO creates a rich history of feedback at the student and instructor level, facilitating reflection and a longitudinal view of progress.
  • Curated access to key academic resources for students through Q for Success: Word 2016 and Chrome apps, customized for your institution, that simplify access to library resources, databases, tutoring, writing handbooks, and coach the very tactical skills necessary for successful academic writing.

We’re just getting started – with our foundational 2017 we’re poised to bring some major innovation to the crucial dialog between learner and teacher and empower students to engage and persist. Please jump on our mailing list, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and most of all try our solutions. And give us feedback. It’s the feedback that matters!


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