Collaborative Editing and Annotation

What is It?

Collaborative annotation and editing expands the idea of social bookmarking by allowing users to not only share bookmarks but to annotate or highlight parts of online resources including text, audio and video. Bookmarks and comments can also be grouped and tagged to provide organization for groups that are sharing resources. Common uses for these types of tools include sharing annotated bibliographies, student or faculty collections of resources that contain detailed notes on each resource, or personal annotated research collections.

Some text annotation tools such as Diigo require registration and a simple plug-in that installs a toolbar on the browser menu. This tool then superimposes a layer over any web page and then stores highlights and comments for viewing by designated members of a group.

How Can I Use It in Teaching?

  • Have students create personal or shared libraries/resource collections
  • Have students create bibliographies or annotated bibliographies for research assignments
  • Increase Student Engagement
  • Enhance Group or Collaborative Work
  • Create Effective Assessments
  • Develop Research Skills
  • Develop Meta-Cognitive Skills

Collaborative Editing and Annotation Tools


Wikis are simple-to-create web pages that can be viewed and modified by anyone, or by a designated group of users. Wikipedia is the largest example of a wiki in action. Wikis can be used for almost any type of collaborative work. Wikis allow users to see changes made over time so that earlier versions can indicate how individual students participated in creating content or how content evolved over time. Wiki software does not require any knowledge of HTML, and it supports a variety of permissions for faculty, students, and staff to edit the structure and content of wiki pages.

See the page on Wikis for more information.


A blog is a type of website or “web log” that is usually written by an individual. Entries are displayed in reverse-chronological order and can contain text, video, images, and links. Most blogs are set up so that readers of the blog can leave comments and interact with the author of the blog.

See the page on Blogging for more information.

Google Docs

Google documents can be used to create, share, and edit documents online. Users can edit documents online simultaneously, upload Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, RTF, HTML or plain text documents, keep track of who made changes to a document and when, and roll back to any previous version of the document.

Google Docs
Information about Google Docs for Educators

Spark Media Markup

The Spark Media Markup tool allows users to provide commentary and feedback at specific time locations within digital audio and video files. The media and its annotations can be kept private to individuals, groups, or the entire Tufts community, or the world. This tool can be used to provide feedback to students on their recorded performances, for creating indexes that allow users to jump to specific locations in the media, and for allowing viewers to annotate recordings of lectures, presentations, or meetings.

Spark Media Markup Introduction (video)


A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds documents, images, and videos and allows people to participate in several ways including using voice (with a mic or phone), text, audio file, or video (webcam or iMovie). Students and colleagues can share a VoiceThread and asynchronously discuss, comment on, and annotate the content of the VoiceThread.

What’s a VoiceThread Anyway (video)


Diigo is a social bookmarking site that allows registered users to bookmark and tag web pages. In addition to social bookmarking and knowledge sharing, Diigo is also a collaborative editing tool, allowing users to highlight parts of web pages and attach sticky notes to add comments to a page. Comments and highlighting can be shared with a group or kept private. A “lists” feature allows the user to share specific collections of bookmarks in list or slide format.

How to use Diigo (video)

Comparative Matrix of Collaborative Editing and Annotation Tools

Technology Tufts Supported Learning Curve Costs Associated Requirements to Run
Spark Media Markup Y Moderate 0 for Tufts Users Computer with Internet Connection
VoiceThread N Easy 0 Computer with Internet Connection
Diigo N Easy 0 Computer with Internet Connection
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