A few times lately, I’ve had questions from faculty about how to use collaborative annotation tools. “What’s a good way for my students to add and share comments on a reading for class?” is the most common form. Most frequently, the readings in question are PDF documents, which makes this question a little tricky. Up until now, I had some suggestions to offer (like converting readings to google docs format, or using hypothes.is). But, sadly, none of these suggestions were very straightforward for students or faculty to use.
But now, (at last!) we’ve reached the end of awkward work-arounds for this question. Since Google Drive’s latest set of updates, it’s easy to highlight and comment on PDFs from within your Google Drive, and you can even see comments left by other users in real time. Now is a great time to check this new feature out, whether you would like your students to use it in the fall, or if you’re just interested in using it for yourself.
The sequence goes something like this:
- Upload a PDF to your Google Drive (New>File upload, or click-and-drag the PDF into your Google Drive).
- Click the PDF to preview it.
- (Optional) Click the share button in the upper right to add other people, or get a link to share.
- Click on the annotate icon in the upper right to start adding notes. Highlight text or illustrations throughout the document to comment on them.
If you’re planning to use this feature with a class or group, there are multiple options for sharing. For just one or two documents, you could add collaborators one-by-one by their Hampshire email addresses. If you’re making the commenting a regular activity, it may be more convenient to create a folder containing all the relevant readings and share that folder with the whole group. And don’t forget to add the relevant links to your Moodle pages as you design your fall courses!