Select Page

Let’s annotate the web.

I am excited to finally have a chance to take a look at a true web annotation tool.   What is web annotation?  Well, until a few weeks ago I had no idea either.  A Wikipedia search is always a good first step.  There is also a great definition from W3C, the organization that creates standards for the web.  Last, a bit more background information can be found from is a web annotation platform that seems to be at the forefront of the annotation space, and I thought I would take a look at it for this preliminary review. is an open source project and a non-profit organization.  It’s a web-based platform, so it works in the browser.  It doesn’t have an app that I could find, but does function on mobile browsers.

So what can it do?  Well upon logging in on Firefox, I was a bit puzzled.  I quickly stumbled on this start page though.  If you are in Chrome, there’s an extension, for all other browsers, just create a bookmarklet from that start page.   With that taken care of, you can now annotate the web!

I went over the OLC homepage for a test drive.  When you highlight text, you can now either highlight or annotate.  If you choose annotate, a sidebar pops up in the browser that allows you to make, share and save notes.  The options are fairly straightforward but powerful.  Take a look at the screenshot for the options.  PDF annotation is also possible in a similar fashion.

As far as application to teaching and learning, there are numerous possibilities for this tool.  First of all, learners can comment and discuss a pdf or website in an interactive, collaborative way.  This provides the opportunity to conduct asynchronous discussion directly on a text instead of long, disconnected threads.   I think this alone makes the tool worth looking at if you are using traditional discussion boards.  For independent learners, being able to save and sort knowledge can help to reinforce schemas as they are forming, saving research in a central place.  I’m excited to spend the next week diving a bit deeper in to this tool!