Synchronous group annotations of a text.
January 21, 2017 3:13 PM   Subscribe

I would like my students to add annotations to select online chapters of public domain texts we are reading. Google Docs would work, but I would prefer that the end product be accessible to the world at large, so I don't have to export their work and publish it anew. There are 20 students in the class, and so I'm worried about students overwriting each other's work. Is there a cheap, free wiki installation that can handle multiple, simultaneous edits?

[I suppose I could just assign one chapter to each student]
posted by craniac to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure about a wiki with those features, but have you considered Hypothesis annotation? Your students can annotate any online text by creating Hypothesis accounts. More on educational uses of Hypothesis annotation here.

Another option is, which lets you upload a text.

Both allow simultaneous commenting and can be accessible to the world if desired.
posted by rollcredits at 3:26 PM on January 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Google Docs would work, but I would prefer that the end product be accessible to the world at large, so I don't have to export their work and publish it anew.

Can't you set up a google doc so it's visible to the world at large, but only your students can edit it? Or is there something else you're hoping for here that I'm missing?
posted by ManInSuit at 3:49 PM on January 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

What about CommentPress?
posted by unknowncommand at 4:34 PM on January 21, 2017 works great for this, but might be hard to publish later. I'm not sure if you can see the annotations without an account.
posted by aetg at 6:02 PM on January 21, 2017 might do what you're looking for.
posted by xris at 6:07 PM on January 21, 2017

You can absolutely do this with Google Docs. I do this all the time with both middle and high school students.

One way to make sure students don't overwrite each other is to have them mark up the text by adding comments. They can reply to each others' comments, but if someone accidentally (or "accidentally") resolve the comment, you can un-resolve it.

I can send you an example of my students doing this if you want - we did a close read on The Great Gatsby that turned out pretty well.
posted by guster4lovers at 6:53 PM on January 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

The place where I did my PhD had a mediawiki installation (it's the software wikipedia runs on) as our shared online data collection and documentation space. It handles multiple simultaneous edits and has versioning control. And obviously scale is a not a problem. The software is open source and free and I seem to remember it was not too difficult to set up (I installed it on my home computer for fun), but you need a server for it to run on. Also it uses wikimarkup for formatting which some people found a bit difficult.

To be honest, the other ideas above are probably better ways of doing this. But if you want a wiki specifically then mediawiki will work just fine.
posted by shelleycat at 5:10 AM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Here's the link to mediawiki btw:
posted by shelleycat at 5:11 AM on January 22, 2017

I wanted to thank everyone for their excellent advice.

Mediawiki: It appears that there is a fifteen minute window for editing, and that comments can still overwrite each other. I may be wrong.

The only problem with Google Docs is that the results are private. I would prefer to have a public document that could be shared with a real audience outside of the classroom.

CommentPress looks very useful.

I appreciate your help with this.
posted by craniac at 12:18 PM on February 18, 2017

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