Canvas and Annotate PRO

Creating personalized, detailed feedback and content is time consuming. More-so in an online teaching world.

What if you could create and use libraries of reusable formatted text, elegantly integrated into Canvas, to speed creation? Canvas teachers have been asking for this feature since at least 2012.

What if you could have this feature two minutes from now? For free? Without any technical integration required?

Install Annotate for Chrome

It takes 30 seconds, is free, and will help you give better feedback,
faster, starting immediately (well, 31 seconds later).

Where you could quickly build out your own Libraries of content?

And the same solution worked with Gmail, Microsoft Word, Outlook (web) and Google Docs?

And you gained trial use of a 230+ comment bank covering academic writing and research complete with detailed explanations of key topics?

And you could affordably move to a small institutional license to facilitate sharing of Libraries?

Now we’re cooking with renewable energy!

AP Sidebar with SpeedGrader

Annotate PRO (AP) is a Chrome Extension (also works on Microsoft Edge!) optimized for Canvas, and Canvas SpeedGrader in particular. It even adds features to SpeedGrader like being able to format text for margin comments!

Use AP to insert formatted text into SpeedGrader

Comments authored in AP with bold, italics, bold AND italics, and embedded URLs will insert with rich formatting. AP+ and institutional users can use AP’s Free Form feature to type rich text comments, using keyboard shortcuts like CTRL-B to turn on bolding, and then insert them into a SpeedGrader comment with formatting preserved.

No integration with Canvas is required to use Annotate PRO. Just install our Chrome Extension, create an account, refresh any open pages, set our Toolbar where you want it (or leave it off), and you’re good to go!

You can use AP all over Canvas, to quickly search and add pre-written comments to any text entry area including:

  • SpeedGrader margin comments
  • SpeedGrader Assignment comments
  • SpeedGrader rubric comments
  • Discussion responses
  • Content pages


Annotate PRO (AP) allows you to develop  librar(ies) of comments that you can use and re-use throughout the Canvas platform.  That means that it is not limited to use in grading – but has become my go-to place for storing any content I anticipate re-using.

AP has cut down the time it takes me to provide feedback by about 50%, in all honesty.  But besides time saving, I truly believe it has improved the quality of my feedback.

Read more…

Nancy LaChance

Solutions Manager, Chamberlain University

Watch the video intro below to get a quick sense of Annotate PRO and Canvas…or just install and go! Read on to discover some superpowers AP has when used with Canvas SpeedGrader…

SpeedGrader Superpowers

Annotate PRO has some special powers when it comes to Canvas SpeedGrader: optionally logging your comments against the current student.

Why would you want to do this?

  1. Effortlessly create a history of comments for each student, which you can quickly scan – from within SpeedGrader  – and also dig into analytics. Didn’t you provide this student with similar paper on their last project?
  2. By saving even free form (custom) comments entered into SpeedGrader you can easily extend your libraries of reusable comments based on one-off feedback you already provided.
  3. You can aggregate and disaggregate data by course and assignment, optionally turning of history at the student level but keeping overall course data. Where is a particular sections strengths and weaknesses based on their last lab report or research paper?

Lets step through these capabilities in a bit more detail:

Adding Reusable Comments – Annotate PRO Toolbars & Popup

Once you install Annotate PRO for Google Chrome and refresh any open Canvas pages, you’ll have access the College Edition Library and a starter Library for your own use – both of which you can easily modify and extend. Of course you can create new Libraries.

The screenshot above shows the optional Annotate PRO toolbar docked to the top of the screen. The user has replied to a discussion post, clicked in the green Annotate search box, then typed “+” to get a list of positive comments to use. They have selected one specific to explanations, hit Enter, and the comment has appeared in the discussion reply ready for editing.

Alternately, you can type CTRL-ALT-A from just about any text entry area to jump to the search box, scroll through results, hit Enter and see your selection magically appear in Canvas. There are also a host of blue Favorite buttons visible, which you can simply click to add a comment.

In this example we’re looking at a student document in SpeedGrader. The user has highlighted text, as if to add a manual comment, but then they have clicked on a blue Favorite button in the Annotate PRO toolbar.

Hovering over any button shows the contents of that button in a black tooltip.

The user has clicked the Favorite button and Annotate has added a new comment plus the pre-written text.

Notice that the text, from our College Edition library, includes a link out to additional reading so the student can dig into the subject further.

You can also see the history of comments for this student. The instructor can scroll back in time, across multiple assignments and even academic terms, to quickly review earlier feedback. More on this in the Feedback History section below.

In this example the toolbar is closed and the user has popped open Annotate PRO from the Google Chrome menu.

Annotate PRO is always available this way. ALT-A will work as a shortcut so you can click into a comment area, then pop Annotate to search or click a Favorite.

Annotate PRO also offers right-click access to your libraries in most plain text area entry areas.

Feedback History

Annotate PRO can save all of your feedback in SpeedGrader – creating a history for each student. Not just comments you add from your AP Libraries, but also custom comments you type into margin comments, rubric comments, or overall assignment feedback.

Toggle History ON from the AP popup (click the superhero ‘A’ in your Chrome menu) to begin. History defaults to OFF.

You can then visit your Feed (see below for an example screenshot) to review feedback in aggregate or at the individual student level. You can quickly filter by course, assignment, and student.

Data is broken down by comment Group and then frequently used specific comments…so you can find patterns, make student conferences more efficient, and hold students accountable for the feedback you’ve already provided.