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Top Tech for Digital Annotation

There are countless uses for digital annotation in the classroom: Both teachers and students can mark up text, images, songs, websites, videos, and more. You'll be giving students a voice as they develop close-reading skills, provide analysis and opinion, become fact-finding web detectives, engage in peer review, and practice essential research techniques. And with these tools, teachers can highlight important points, promote critical thinking through video, inspire inquiry, observe student confusion, personalize grading, and streamline the paperless classroom.

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Top Picks


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Attach, translate, and transcribe audio comments in G Suite

Bottom line: If you already use Google Workspace, this simple add-on can make it easier to send comments and feedback to students in the virtual space.


Rich collaboration and close-reading tool invites deep, easy-to-assess discussions

Bottom line: Versatile, free discussion platform for teaching, peer review, assessment, and fostering active reading.


Turn social media habits into collaborative, close reading

Bottom line: This is a lean, focused tool that nonetheless could see a lot of use in different types of classrooms.


Crop, customize, and remix online video content with interactive tool

Bottom line: This is a valuable tool that teachers can use to flip classrooms or support student-led creation.

Actively Learn

Empowering reader invites students to read with purpose

Bottom line: Far beyond the average e-reader, this tool helps students connect with texts and each other while giving teachers useful insight into student thinking.


Versatile annotation tool helps users critically connect with content

Bottom line: Kami is an effective way to promote student interaction with texts, authentic documents, and pictures.

Smithsonian Learning Lab

Discover, create, remix, and share first-rate museum artifacts

Bottom line: This thoughtfully crafted, open-ended curation and creation tool has a place in most classrooms.

Adobe Reader

Cross-platform tool for creating, reading, editing, sharing documents

Bottom line: Versatile tool is a must-have for classrooms working with multiple device platforms.


Create professional-looking media with an abundant library of templates

Bottom line: It's a treasure trove of well-designed templates and features that encourage creativity and collaboration, but expect some growing pains.


Useful Chrome extension lets teachers add interactivity to websites

Bottom line: A potential go-to tool for teachers focused on building critical reading skills, especially those in Chromebook classrooms.

Browser extension adds layer of annotation and discussion to the web

Bottom line: Free, user-friendly tool opens up the web to in-context annotation and discussion.

Office Lens

Capture, annotate, sync, and share across the digital landscape

Bottom line: Sharing options and annotation features support paperless collaboration and instruction, especially for users proficient in other Microsoft apps.

Skitch - Snap. Mark Up. Send.

Add a hint of fun to note-taking or annotating images

Bottom line: It's easy to annotate images and screenshots, take handwritten notes, and organize it all with Evernote.


Social bookmarking encourages discovery, collaboration, and sharing

Bottom line: With a Diigo educator account, teachers and students have a safe space to organize, customize, and share Web content while learning about a variety of subjects.


Chrome extension helps organize web-based research

Bottom line: For Chrome users and mostly digital classrooms, this is a fairly intuitive tool that'll help students wrangle their research.


Collaborative tool lets users annotate songs, literature, web content

Bottom line: Students can collaboratively engage in the process of annotation and analysis with various texts -- both within the forum and on the web.


Browser extension helpful for annotation and research organization

Bottom line: A solid -- with room to grow -- annotation and research tool; serious users will need to pay for premium.


Sheet music goes digital with helpful organizational tool

Bottom line: For already devoted music students, this is an ideal spot to store all things musical, share, and get feedback.


Cool annotation tool has an overwhelming array of features

Bottom line: With some significant instruction and serious intentions, a cool tool for annotating text.

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