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Annotate PRO vs. Kaizena

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the differences between Annotate PRO and Kaizena given that both solutions saw a major upgrade over the last couple of weeks.

First up, we love seeing innovation in the area of feedback and dialog with students – the most impactful tactic a teacher can use to improve student outcomes. Voice comments, where Kaizena started, is a very compelling area -potentially intimate and also different (in a good way) than a student’s previous experiences with feedback.

Second, seeing two solutions come at the same challenge (providing personalized feedback that influences student behavior when you have 50 or 100+ students) helps highlight Annotate PRO’s value to teachers.

Since neither 11trees or Kaizena has any published data on impacting learning outcomes, we’re both leaning on the “feedback is good” work done by John Hattie, Grant Wiggins, and others. So, for comparison purposes, we’ll focus on logical contributing factors to teacher and student success.

Bottom line: congrats to the Kaizena team for a substantial update to their solution. We don’t see edtech tools as mutually exclusive. Solutions like Annotate and Kaizena can be put to use in different scenarios with great success.


Promise Annotate PRO Kaizena Winner

Business model

Free for up to 10 Comments. Paid accounts for individuals and institutions.



We wanted to get this out of the way first! Props to Kaizena and its backers…


Students learn from feedback


Comments appear in Google Docs like all regular comments – instantly readable.


Students must install and open the Kaizena app for each document.

Annotate PRO

Our experience with students tells us that every additional step they must take decreases the likelihood they will do it.

Teacher speed

Annotate PRO is always available when using Google Docs. Search is full-text, and an excerpt of all matching comments is displayed. Teachers must run Kaizena on each document they open. Search is on the name of the Lesson only, and their is no preview.

Annotate PRO

Every second counts.

Voice comments

Annotate PRO does not offer voice – and will not.

Kaizena rocks at this.


Provided content

Annotate PRO offers the optional College Edition library of comments – 100+ comments focused on high school and college level writing. The Library covers argument, evidence, organization, style, documentation and formatting, and grammar. Kaizena just introduced ‘Lessons,’ which are snippets of text with links to videos. They seem to offer only a handful of pre-written Lessons which focus exclusively on low-level grammar issues. Also, you can’t customize a selected Lesson for a specific student.

Annotate PRO

We designed Annotate PRO to make it easy to create large sets of reusuable comments – articulate feedback written mindfully – that you can quickly personlize for a specific student.

Teacher created content

Annotate PRO offers a very fast editing interface that makes it easy to create multiple Libraries of comments. Each Library can have multiple Groups of Comments. All sortable. Specific Comments can be promoted to be Favorites or deactivated. Kaizena offers a simple structure to their Lessons: name and then comments. Comments cannot be edited after creation (they can be removed).

Annotate PRO

We put a lot of thought into the flexibility and power of our Library architecture. It shows.

Sharing of content

Annotate PRO makes it easy for instructors at site license institutions to share Libraries of Comments, either formally or informally. So: author a 100 Comment Library to power writing across the curriculum and share with 50 faculty in a few clicks. Kaizena offers sharing at the Lesson level – either to the Kaizena community or to individuals via email.
So if you want to share 100 Lessons, you have to edit each one and invite colleagues 100 times.

Annotate PRO

Our solution is social through to its DNA.

History of feedback

Annotate PRO keeps a histy of comments created for Google Docs and Canvas SpeedGrader users. This history includes free form comments (created without using Annotate directly) and is accessible from Annotate’s top toolbar. Teachers can quickly review all feedback created – back to the beginning of time using Annotate – for each student. This is a gamechanger. We couldn’t figure out if Skills and Comments are searchable (for students or teachers) outside of the document in which they reside.

Annotate PRO

Helping hold students accountable to previous feedback is a core value to our work. We’re just getting started.

Plays well with others

Annotate PRO isn’t just about Google Docs. We have a Word 2016 app that brings the same features to macOS, Windows and even iPad. You account and libraries will appear there, too.
Our Chrome Extension offers toolbars for Canvas and Blackboard. Your comment libraries are available in Google Classroom, discussions – even Gmail.
Kaizena is specific to Google Docs and their own proprietary editing workflow.

Annotate PRO

Our goal is to be ubiquitous, not proprietary.