What is iAnnotate?
- iAnnotate is a versatile application for iPad that allows the user to open, read, mark-up, and email PDF, Word documents, and image files.
- It cannot be used to start writing or edit specific text in a PDF. It is only a reader and markup tool.
- For the purposes of Basic Writing, iAnnotate is geared more toward instructors than students. We promote it more as an assessment tool than a teaching or learning application.
What features are available in iAnnotate?
(Note: These are only a sampling of the major highlights.)
- Read: iAnnotate allows you open, import, or download PDfs and Word documents for reading in both portrait and landscape mode.
- Annotate: While reading a PDF the you can use the tools provided to write notes in the margins, circle or highlight key passages, place bookmarks or pointers to important text, or drop flags with notes you create. iAnnotate also features several predesigned stamps and allows you to customize your own. Along with typed or handwritten notes it is also possible to place voice recorded tags or notes. Notations are saved for later reference, and if you want to share your annotations, iAnnotate allows you to send the PDF with your notes so that your reader can edit them or it allows you to “flatten” them to prevent the recipient from editing them.
- Customize: Add, subtract, or swap out commonly used tools on the tool bars based on how often you use them. It’s as easy as opening the toolbox and dragging and dropping. It is also possible to format the colors, text sizes, and a whole host of other features.
- Navigate: It is easy to scroll through the pages (forward and back), search for specific text, or peruse the full page, partial page, or thumbnails of pages.
- Organize/Manage: Open multiple documents at once for easy reference between two or more documents. Share annotation summaries with cohorts by emailing them directly from the app. Add or delete pages from files, secure the app with a password, and sync your library to DropBox, iTunes, WebDav, or Box.
What are the benefits of using iAnnotate in your writing class?
(Note: These benefits apply to most levels of writing instruction.)
- Having all of your PDFs and Word documents available on iAnnotate eliminates the need to carry around a lot of paper copies.
- Students do not need to print off their papers for submission. With an email, they can’t tell you they lost it or didn’t have access to a printer!
- No more losing, destroying, or spilling coffee all over student papers.
- Reading and marking up student work on the iPad is easy and fast. It has all of the potential of pencil and paper and more, including being able to return work to the student immediately. No more waiting weeks until you have them all graded to return them to students.
- Because iAnnotate eliminates the need for collecting and shuffling papers, provides anytime-anywhere access, employs the quick voice or typed response tools, iAnnotate cuts down the total amount of time spent reading and grading papers.
- For classes where revision is important, iAnnotate makes it easy to compare revised texts and note changes made (or not) quickly.
- It allows you to make comments and provide feedback in a variety of ways.
- Students can open and read their work complete with annotations and need nothing more than Adobe Reader.
- It links to DropBox!
What limitations does iAnnotate have?
- Highlighter functions don’t work on scanned text PDFs.
- The Typewriter tool does not spellcheck while other type written annotation tools do.
- Until recently, Word documents were not supported. While they are now, if you want to mark up a Word Doc, iAnnotate converts the document into a PDF first.
Why should you choose iAnnotate instead of other applications?
- Simply put, no other PDF reader or markup application offers the kinds of tools and resources that iAnnotate does. It may seem expensive at $9.99, but considering each update is free (and they are constantly improving it) iAnnotate is well worth the price!
How do WE use iAnnotate?
- To give you an idea of the practicality of iAnnotate, here is an example of it in action.
When students submit their paper, I have them do so by submitting it my DropBox (Db) account. Granted, I don’t want to give them all access to my account, therefore, I use DropBox’s DropItToMe app. This provides my students with a web link where they upload their submissions and it drops them right into a special folder on my Db account. Since, iAnnotate is linked to my Db account, all I have to do is open iAnnotate and navigate to the corresponding folder.
With the student papers now available to me, I open, read, and annotate each one. I enter comments occasionally, make editorial marks where necessary, and even make extended end notes. Once I have made all the notes and comments I feel necessary, I immediately email the paper back to them. I always send them the summary of notations as well. One important feature I like and always use is the flatten feature. This feature allows me to secure the document with the notations I have made so that students cannot edit them. This way there is never any doubt about the notes I made on their work.
Response from students has been overwhelmingly positive. They appreciate not having to wait long periods to receive their work back. Since my handwriting can be atrocious, many students comment on the benefits of getting back comments, in typed form. Submitting their papers online frees them from having to print or keep track of a lot of paper material. For instructors who use the voice annotation feature, oral feedback allows them to say a lot more without having to scrawl it in the margins. Likewise, students remark that they feel a closer connection with the instructor when they can hear the verbal feedback to their work without having to set up a prearranged appointment to meet with the instructor outside of class. This method of feedback is inspiring research at Washington State University on the viability of iAnnotate as well as student acceptance of oral feedback. We look forward to the findings in the near future.