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Student-driven annotations & feedback refer to students highlighting of content or providing reactions and observations to their fellow students’ content.  Instructor-driven annotations and feedback are essential ways to assess students’ progress and let them know how they are doing in a course.  Please see our Assessment page for additional assessment tools, and our Clicker/Response Systems page for information about real-time feedback. There are many more apps for tablets, as well as virtual whiteboards.


With respect to instructor annotations and feedback, digital tools streamline the need to print out paper copies of assignments and speed up the return of feedback to students.


There is a range of university-supported tools (NYU Classes and Google Apps for Education), as well as 3rd party applications.


University-supported tools can be accessed through NYU Classes or Google Apps for Education.  Third party applications allow instructors to annotate papers on their mobile devices and more.


Collaborative Annotations Student-driven Annotations and Feedback Faculty-driven Annotations and Feedback
Annotation Studio (free): Suite of collaborative web-based annotation tools out of MIT; annotate text, images, or video; simple, student-centered design; create private discussion groups; reader visualizations (free): browser plugin for annotation and discussion on the web; add comments and multimedia to websites and PDFs

Google Docs/Slides/Sheets (free): Google apps allow for simultaneous creation/editing of multimedia documents, as well as commenting. A new feature in Google Docs allows for suggested edits, which are similar to tracked changes in Word.

Scalar (free): digital publishing platform; allows for media-rich annotation of text, audio, video, and code

Socialbook (free): annotation tool for text, audio, and video; allows for private groups

thinglink (free basic account; reduced pricing for educators): platform for annotating images and video; adds media-rich tags, or touch points, to content

VoiceThread (now integrated with NYU Classes – in pilot mode): allows for text, image, and audio commenting/annotating on specific content


Evernote (free with basic account): lets you share multimedia and take notes easily.

NYU Classes – Peer review feature in Assignments tool (free): NYU Classes allows for peer reviewed assignments. You select the number of reviews, and the system randomly assigns reviews for each student. Only those who submit assignments will be assigned peer reviews.

WordPress – WP Document Revisions plugin (free through NYU Web Publishing): A document management and version control plugin that allows teams of any size to collaboratively edit files and manage their workflow.  Not for simultaneous editing.

 Google Docs/Slides/Sheets – Google apps allow for collaborative creation of multimedia documents, as well as commenting. A new feature in Google Docs allows for suggested edits, which are similar to tracked changes in Word.

PDF Annotation Tools:

    • Adobe Reader (free, all devices): Only allows type-written notes, but widely available.
    • GoodNotes: ($7.99, iPhone/iPad) Create searchable handwritten notes and annotate PDF documents. Syncs between your iOS devices.
    • GoodReader ($4.99 – iOS mobile devices): annotate papers easily with a stylus
    • Folia (free – Android): annotate papers easily
    • Noteshelf ($7.99, iPad): Can take notes, annotate PDFs, sketch ideas, sign contracts, fill forms, print documents and more right on your iPad. Syncs with Evernote and Google Drive.

Virtual whiteboards:

    • AirSketch ($9.99, for iPad): Only allows annotations for a range of media.
    • Doceri: (free,/iPad) Easy to use annotation tool.
    • Metamoji ($7.99, Android) – sketch and annotation app.
    • SyncSpace (free, Android) – colalborative whiteboard