December 21, 2011

Document and image collaborative annotation with iversity

Follow-up to iAnnotate for iPad, annotate PDFs, mark essays on screen from Inspires Learning - Robert O'Toole

iversity is an open-access VLE/VRE in which anyone can assemble a course or a conference (interesting to see the parallels between an academic course and a conference). It is explicitly aimed at higher education. The "stripped-down" nature of the feature-set and the interface is significant. After all, what is really needed for successful academic collaboration? You get a calendar, the ability to upload files and discuss them, and a report on all user actions related to the course.

It's all actually very clear and simple. Which is what most people want most of the time - with the addition of one more sophisticated feature, perhaps the only area of complex interaction that academic work needs (outside of subject specific technologies such as lab equipment): what iversity call 'social reading'. Annotating texts and images with comments.

I'm not claiming that this is a perfect solution. It is browser based. It is very much an old-fashioned web site plus collaboration. Increasingly (thanks to Kindle, iTunes, iAnnotate etc) we expect to be building our own personal collections of owned/curated objects. That's a very different design pattern, user experience and ideology. When I work on an academic aretfact I want to have my own copy of it. That comes first (whether in the classroom or online). I then want to be able to annotate and extend my copy. In some circumstances I want to share those annotations and extensions, or incorporate the ideas of others in my own copy. But at the end of the day I want my own artfact to own containing my own work.

Here's a video demonstrating their implementation:

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