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Pros: Tons of comment options include highlighting, restricted dates, sorting, and multiple threads; tool is easy to use; many document formats are supported.
Cons: Sometimes PDF document formatting gets lost in processing, and the site doesn't have much visual appeal.
Bottom Line: Versatile, free discussion platform for teaching, peer review, assessment, and fostering active reading.
Use NowComment to facilitate discussions or to have your students evaluate texts and other media relevant to lessons. You can use it with material from any subject, from historical primary source documents to chemistry demonstration videos to literary analysis. Students can also view and comment on available public collections, from the writings of James Baldwin to the basics of HTML.
Discussions can be about the document in a broad sense, or individual words or small portions of images can be discussed specifically, with multiple conversations possible for any selection. Students can upload their own documents and invite discussion, creating a peer review or workshopping situation. They can also publicly or privately use highlight options with a customizable color-coded system, perfect for studying. You can also have students write short answers or full essays on text passages or writing prompts, rewrite passages of text, answer multiple-choice problems, identify and explain parts of an image, or comment on a video clip.
Great for remote learning or flipped classrooms, this tool allows teachers to provide a supportive environment for students who may be reluctant to speak up in class, or for those who communicate better in writing than out loud. You'll also never run out of time, and each student has equal access to participation, so a few students don't dominate discussion. Because teachers can limit the time period that students can comment or see others' comments, as well as sort comments by name, date, and tags, it's a great tool for assessment. Class rosters can be uploaded via a CSV file, and it can be used with a learning management system (LMS).
NowComment is a free, versatile document annotation and discussion platform that helps groups of people mark up and discuss texts. It's useful for discussing readings, giving group feedback on writing, remote learning, collaborative projects, and assessments. To use it, teachers (or students) upload a document in a number of formats (including HTML, Microsoft Word or Excel, PDF, photo, audio, or video) or paste in text or embed codes. The system processes the upload, and then teachers can preview the document and set the privacy settings (documents are private by default), choose a title and optional custom URL, and invite participants, including groups. Documents can be organized in folders or collections, marked as favorites, and shared on social media.
Users can select a view with the document on the left and comment panel on the right, or with comments inline with the text. You can link comments to the document as a whole, to a specific paragraph, to a specific sentence, or down to a specific word. It's even possible to comment on portions of images and specific time stamps in an audio or video file. Paragraphs are numbered, and a balloon shows how many comments there are per section. Clicking on it scrolls automatically to that section's comments. Adding comments is simple: Double-click on the text, select portions of an image, or click the progress bar for audio or video. Users can write threaded comments that include a summary and an optional, more detailed comment area. Users can edit or delete comments as well as sort comments, skim only the comment summaries, and reply privately. Use customizable, sortable tags in comments for another way to sort. Users can also edit or append a document after uploading and accept suggested changes.
Teachers can create assignments and can time specifically when and how commenting appears and disappears from a document. This allows for capturing initial impressions without students being influenced by each other. Documents can also include group and private highlighting options, with different colors indicating agreement, disagreement, or another meaning. The document and comments can also be printed, exported, or embedded in another webpage. Ample help is available, including FAQs, videos, feature overviews, and specific instructions.
NowComment is a super-flexible way to foster in-depth conversations about texts, images, videos, and audio. Students can learn as they interact with each other, the teacher, and the document, bringing up new discussion topics or commenting on each other's comments without having to wait their turn and on their own schedule. Because of the platform's highlighting and threading features, comments can center on the fine detail of the textual evidence of the document, which can be harder to do in a classroom, and discussion can continue even after parts of the class have moved on to new assignments. Comments can also include links to other sites, so the discussion is much richer.
While other tools allow students to collaborate and comment, this tool has features that lend themselves to the classroom by design. Because teachers can see individual contributors, set time restraints and visibility, and customize the highlighting labels, they can use NowComment to assess and track individual progress. Overall, this is a robust way to engage students in reading, writing, discussing, and analyzing texts, or to get feedback on writing, and it's flexible enough to appeal to a wide range of skills and abilities. It's definitely worth taking it out for a spin.