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Getting Started with Annotate PRO – Create Reusable Comments

Whether you are an individual teacher or editor looking to create more impactful feedback more efficiently, or leading a large online school with hundreds of faculty and tens of thousands of students, the following game plan offers a great way to get started with Annotate PRO (AP) content creation – but there are many ways to start!

 Raw Material – Creating Reusable Comments the Easy Way:

  1. If you are a Canvas SpeedGrader, Google Docs, or Microsoft Word user consider not even thinking about writing a library proactively – just record what you are already saying to students then use that fantastic, one-of-a-kind data to create a library (or libraries!) of reusable comments in AP. Read more about AP’s History feature – there are some differences between Canvas, Word, and Google Docs. Basically you’ll get a Feed of all your feedback – margin comments and (in Canvas) overall and rubric comments – that you can review and quickly edit and add to your reusable Libraries in AP.
  2. License AP at the Institution+ level for your institution with a minimum of “seats” and just hand AP to 5 or 10 faculty. We guarantee many of them will have Word documents or clipboards or crazy clipboard managers or similar loaded with the things they say over and over. In about 15 minutes they’ll have transferred that content to AP and be doing backflips of joy at the zillions of clicks they’ll save. As a recent subscriber said to us, “I feel like I’m doing a huge favor for my future self.” You’ll be able to review all the content they create, then leverage it to create new shared Libraries.
  3. Review our College Edition Library and see what might be useful to you. Just remember that to continue using the College Edition – even comments you have edited to suit your style and needs – requires an individual or site license. Completely new Comments that you author inside of the College Edition are yours to use forever, for free.
  4. Host a session with colleagues to brainstorm all the different sorts of feedback you have provided. Perhaps write all the issues and compliments you can think of on Post-it notes then stick them to the wall, then group and sub-group.


Logistics – Library Hierarchy and Organization

  • Remember that you can have multiple Libraries going at the same time. You might find it convenient to create a general Library (of good writing feedback, for instance), then course or assignment specific Libraries that you can quickly select and deselect as needed.
  • A Library has Groups. You can sort Groups and their names and organization have no impact on the feedback you create. They are only for your mental map of the content you create.
    • Paid individual and site license users can create sub-Groups – also sorted – that sit inside Groups. One cool application for sub-Groups is differentiating instruction by creating feedback on the same issue but for different reading/comprehension/skill levels. For instance, you might create three closely related comments on counter-argument, one intended for developing writers, a second for at-level writers, and a third for highly skilled writers. 
  • Comments reside inside Groups and (optionally) sub-Groups. A Comment has a Label (limited to 60 characters in length) and the actual textual Comment that will appear when selected (limited to 6,000 characters). Consider making each Comment focus on one issue – remember you can very quickly choose multiple Comments from your AP Libraries, potentially building narrative/summative responses by choosing these micro-Comments. Only the Comment text appears when selected – learners don’t see the Label or Group names. 

Formatting AP Comments

When pasting into AP, try to use CTRL-ALT-V (or Paste Special) from the Edit menu. This will strip fancy and hidden formatting from your content and let you start with clean text in the AP editor where you can add clickable links, bolding, bullets etc. 

Finally, it is probably best to author Comments outside of AP itself. Spreadsheets work best, because they don’t load your text with lots of hidden formatting (like Microsoft Word does). You can quickly review and filter your content to make sure it’s covering what you want. Then, when ready, you do a quick copy/paste session to move your content into AP proper.

To help you along we’ve created an Excel spreadsheet with some sample content. We don’t yet offer uploading of content…Libraries of under 100 Comments can be created in 10 minutes or so, and copy/pasting gives you one last editorial review. Of course you’ll be able to format and change your Comments once they’re in AP!