Web Annotation With Hypothes.is In Canvas Training Session

This post is being used to document and distribute materials associated with a training I'm giving at the University of Oklahoma, which covers collaborative web annotation as a tool for engaging students.

“Writing in the margins” of books and journal articles (or any other texts) in collaboration with others is one way instructors seek to enhance learning experiences. Using collaborative web annotations, faculty on our campus are seeding their course discussions and engaging students in collaborative scholarship. Here’s an example of course that is using collaborative web annotations:

Website using hypothes.is to annotate Byron Readings

Tool Showcase

We’re going to dive deeper into collaborative web annotation as it’s one technology that’s being used across many disciplines. Here are several pieces of literature that are being annotated collaboratively by students:

If you’d like to create a Hypothes.is account and start collaboratively annotating the web, signup here.

Here’s a student blog post you can practice annotating now.

Additionally, here is what Hypothes.is looks like integrated into Canvas:

Canvas Course displaying hypothes.is content.


  1. Why use collaborative web annotation in the classroom?
  2. What documents might be annotated by students?
  3. What does an assignment look like using web annotation? (Current ones)
  4. What other assignments could benefit from web annotation?
  5. How does feedback to student change with web annotation assignments?
  6. Why engage students in annotating materials publicly?
  7. Any other thoughts/ideas?



Instructor Blog Post: Using Hypothes.is in the College Classroom


(Technical resources from here.)

The featured image is provided CC0 by Anastasia Zhenina via Unsplash.

Gamifying The Writing Process With Habitica

One of the (many) side-projects that John and I have been working on is gamifying the writing process. In particular, we’re interested in gamification that seeks to reinforce and build good habits that yield efficient writing, research, and revision.

This semester, the Writing Center on our campus engaged us in brainstorming the logistics, pedagogical implications, etc. of such a writing program. From conversations with them, John and I have pursued various tools and solutions. At the moment, we’re prototyping two different applications of gamifying the writing process. John has already written about one of these ideas—using automated word-counts to engage individuals in competing against themselves to encourage writing. Now I want to address the other prototype we’re developing.

We’ve been researching and using Habitica as a platform to facilitate a gamified writing program (learn more about Habitica here and here). In fact, writing this blog post fulfills a “daily” task for me in the very Habitica system we are prototyping!

Keegan's Habitca website daily todo list that highlights "writing for 10 minutes" and "write a blog post"
Keegan’s Habitica Writing Tasks

Anyways, yesterday I met with Annemarie Mulkey, an instructor in the english department who has participated in both GOBLIN and eXperience Play. I reached out to Annemarie because she has experience with Habitca, a background in English, and is a blast to work with! Since Annemarie uses Habitica to motivate her own productivity (even more broadly than writing), her perspective was phenomenal.

Eventually, we wound up brainstorming how to setup Habitica to gamify writing an undergraduate research paper. We decided the research paper was only going to be ~5 pages and be completed over 7 days. With these parameters set, here’s what we developed using Habitica in half an hour:

Whiteboard Brainstorming

Research Paper Challenge outlined on whiteboard

Resultant Habitica Challenge

Research Paper Challenge in Habitica includes many tasks to complete

Since Habitica possesses a feature called Challenges that allows users to add custom sets of tasks to their account, we used this mechanism as the means to facilitate the gamification of writing a research paper. The Habitica To-Do list we envisioned includes tasks like outlining, researching, and drafting the paper to serve as a set of goals for students working on their research paper.

Taking this a step further to encourage the practices that produce good writing and researching, Annemarie and I used the Habits and Dailies of Habitica to reward students for tasks like 30 minutes of uninterrupted reading/writing, exploring the citations of sources, and writing 1 page for the paper everyday. Together, these three components of our Habitica Challenge (To-Dos, Habits, and Dailies) divide up the process of writing a research paper into manageable pieces for undergraduate students, and award students who complete these tasks regularly with experience points and gold in Habitica.

If you want to dive deeper into the specifics of Habitica or our Challenge, either reach out to me with questions or signup for Habitica, send me your Habitica UserID so I can invite you to Annemarie and I’s party, and then join the custom Challenge we built.

Finally, we recognize that at face value, this prototype appears very systematic and would yield standardized writing. Therefore, using this in the classroom would require more explanation and emphasizing to students the flexibility of their writing process in conjunction with the framework we developed using a Habitica Challenge.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Olu Eletu via Unsplash.

DIY Instructional Video Consultation

In the spirit of John's recent post-per-consultation (PPC) to broadcast valuable information from our consultations at the Center for Teaching Excellence, I am writing my first PPC.

I just met with Mark Norris, a professor of linguistics who recently participated in John & I’s eXperience Play faculty learning community. (Check out the game Mark created here!)

Anyways, Mark is interested in creating instructional videos for his students. Specifically, he wants to show students his problem solving process and explain the reasoning behind every step. This sounded like a fantastic opportunity to provide extra instruction for students who need to focus on certain concepts.

I was excited to see Mark had already experimented with instructional videos, because this helped me understand what Mark wanted to produce for his students:

In the name of features and consistency of quality, I recommended Mark consider digital annotation for his instructional videos. Such tools offer the ability write on documents, expand the annotation space at will, and streamline the video editing workflow. After some discussion, and checking what equipment was available for checkout, I offered Mark two methods for producing digital whiteboard videos: (1) iPad Pro with Apple pencil and Explain Everything Classic, (2) Surface tablet with stylus and Open Sankoré. Mark chose the former and we started exploring what annotated instructional videos would look like when produced from an iPad Pro. Combined with a high-end Blue Spark Digital microphone, Mark now has all the tools he needs to produce some excellent resources for his students.

Working with Mark was phenomenal because I love interacting with faculty who are passionate about teaching and are always exploring how to best engage their students. In other words, I’m excited to see what Mark produces in the coming months!

WORDJelly 1 – Something New

I am anxious.

It’s the start of something new and I don’t know where I am headed. Over the past few years, I have wrestled with direction and what constitutes value in a professional life. Now I am getting a better grasp, so time to start a new project!

Time to venture into the unknown. That’s how learning works. Learning about yourself, at least. I have never done this.

I am excited!

Things are changing all around me. I can feel it in the air. Another year has come and gone and I see how much I’ve changed. There’s been so much to do lately. How is another project a good idea?

“Carry on” I say. There’s so much to learn.

How has that been going?

It’s been wonderful. I am climbing. Understanding and proficiency are closing in, so it’s time to set new goals. To push farther and footslog longer. Endure the heat and the stress. No matter how this turns out, this journey will have been worth it.

I am relentless.

There are many passions in the world and I have found several. Time to explore these options and pursue a destination. I am no longer anxious. I am becoming comfortable quickly. There is still time and energy, so keep pursuing.

Now, time to keep walking, time to keep hiking. No matter who’s around to see, I will be glad I reached my goals.

This is WORDJelly

If you want to know more about this project, check out my rules.

The featured image is provided CC0 via Unsplash.

Digital Writing Tools

Originally posted on the Center for Teaching Excellence Blog

Today, there are many different types of digital writing instruments. Since they can be utilized to create instructional videos, record notes, and create interactive presentations they can be a valuable tool in the university classroom.  Since there are dozens of different digital writing devices, I have distilled a list of a few I think are worth reviewing:

iPad (iOS)

Pros: Software, Price, Mobility

Cons: Writing accuracy, (Lack of) Rest hand on screen while writing

Description: The iPad is a popular device for digital writing. In fact, there are dozens of apps that are dedicated to the task. Some of my favorite writing applications include Notability and Explain Everything because they allow you to record audio and video notes; and Keynote and PowerPoint allow you to annotate during presentations. However, the iPad does have a major flaw with regards to digital annotation. Accurate stylus options are typically overpriced, while the inexpensive options suffer from poor writing precision. That being said, many Apps for iPad contain features that aim to make handwriting easier and more accurate. For example, page zooming and zoom boxes are a couple of feature within an App that help improve handwriting. But the biggest drawback of writing on an iPad is still training yourself not to rest your palm on the screen while annotating since it results in stray marks and unintentional button pressing.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition (Android)

Pros: Writing accuracy, Price, Mobility, Rest hand on screen while writing

Cons: Software

Description: This Android tablet is notable due to its integrated stylus. The “S Pen” that comes with this tablet allows for a greater degree of precision while writing. You can even rest you hand on the device’s screen while annotating with the S Pen! Yet the drawback to this tablet is the limited number and capabilities of good annotating Apps. Fortunately, the Galaxy Note 10.1 comes pre-loaded with an annotation App from Samsung, since other options in the Google Play Store are hit or miss. For instance, the Explain Everything Android App has fewer features than the iPad version. But in due time, annotation App availability and capability will not be an issue.

Surface Pro 3 (Windows 8.1)

Pros: Writing accuracy, Desktop software, Rest hand on screen while writing

Cons: Price, Weight

Description: This Windows tablet is not only a powerful computer but is also a great tablet. Paired with great performance and a precise stylus, you can use this device to run desktop applications with the benefits of digital writing. You can install Explain Everything on this device (through the Microsoft Store) in addition to Adobe softwares, PowerPoint, and Smartboard softwares. So, not only would this be a great device for taking notes and annotating presentations, but you could also use it to record, edit, and publish high-end instructional videos. For example, you could install Open Sankoré to record annotated screencasts and then edit and publish the footage with any video editor made for Windows. Since this device is both a computer and tablet, this particular tool could serve as a singular device that accomplishes both traditional computer and tablet computer tasks.

Modbook Pro (Mac OS and/or Windows)

Pros: Writing accuracy, Desktop software, Cross platform, Rest hand on screen while writing

Cons: Price, Weight

Description: If money is not a factor, this is my favorite tool to create instructional videos with. Since the Modbook Pro is essentially a Wacom tablet grafted to the top of a MacBook Pro, you are looking at a price tag nearing three thousand dollars for a Modbook Pro. But, with the ability to install both Mac and Windows operating systems on a Modbook Pro, you can run any desktop application on this device while utilizing the added functionality of an accurate Wacom digitizer. Just like with the Surface Pro 3, I would suggest using Open Sankoré for making instructional videos. But you can also use the annotation tools in PowerPoint and Keynote among many other softwares. Analogous to the Surface Pro 3, this device is also great for traditional computer and tablet computer tasks. Although the Modbook Pro is more versatile keep in mind that it is bulkier and more expensive than any other digital writing tool listed.

Wacom Tablet

Pros: Writing accuracy, Cross platform, Rest hand on screen while writing

Cons: Price, (Lack of) Mobility, Requires computer

Description: If you already own a powerful computer, you may consider adding this accessory to your machine. There are many models of Wacom tablets, including ones with built in displays. Like the Surface Pro 3 and Modbook Pro, the benefit of a Wacom is that you can utilize the desktop software already own on your computer with the added benefit of digital writing. You can also use Wacom devices for instructional video production with Open Sankoré to produce screencasts. The downside to this peripheral is that it is impractical to use for presenting or moving to a separate location frequently because you would have to transport both the computer and the Wacom tablet back and forth to class or conferences. However, for digital writing in a non-mobile environment, this is a fantastic option.

These are just a few of the digital writing tools available nowadays. Whether you would like to use digital writing devices for note-taking, annotating presentations, video production, or any other use, I hope this information will be a helpful starting point.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave a reply below or reach me on twitter @CraZyIriShman7