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How do I use Annotations to add feedback to an assignment?

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Annotations can be used to make notes in assignments that have been handed in. The Annotations can be used for inline feedback to students. For example, you can mark text, draw, add notes and text boxes, and draw lines.

  • Navigate to Activities in the navbar of your course.
  • Click Assignments.
  • Click the desired assignment.

Only teachers, (with the roles teacher, grader and  grader-builder) can use Annotations. Students can see the published annotations in their assignment, but they cannot edit or accept them (like you can do with annotations in Word).

  • Click on the assignment you want to provide with feedback.

The assignment will now open in the document viewer. If this does not happen it might have to do with your browser blocking third-party cookies; for Safari this is the default setting. This means that before you can use Annotations you have to agree to third-party cookies in your browser.

  1. Select the text you want to assess. Right above the text a bar will appear with several options: You can mark the selected text, cross it out or underline it with either a straight line or a curved line.

    At the top you will see a dark gray bar.
  2. On the left side you can:
    • add a navigation window or bookmarks to the document to create more overview;
    • navigate between the pages;
    • adjust the page view and rotate the page under the settings icon;
    • replace your cursor with a hand icon you can use to scroll the page;
    • zoom in and out;
    • edit the text to display it across the entire width of the screen, or to see one entire page on the screen.
  3. On the right side you can:
    • switch between the ink highlighter (Highlighter), a pen (Ink), the text marker (Highlighter) and an eraser (Eraser). With these tools you can write, draw or erase parts in the assignment. Note: with the eraser you can only delete drawed annotations, not the annotations of the text highlighter. Click  the arrow to switch tools;
    • add notes (Note). Click on the note-icon and then click on the spot in the assignment where you want to add the note. You can now enter your feedback. Note that a note will only be visible if you move your cursor on top of the note. This means that you can add many notes without compromising the readability of the document;
    • add a text box. Click on the T and then click on the spot in the assignment where you want to add the text box. You can now enter your feedback. Contrarily to the notes, a text box will always be visible. If you want to keep your document readable you have to use fewer text boxes. However, they do stand out more;
    • add lines, arrows and frames. Click on the arrow to switch documents;
    • undo or redo a change;
    • print the file including the annotations;
    • search within the file;
    • download the file with the annotations as a PDF-file;
    • open and close the file in full screen mode.

When you add notes (Note), Brightspace checks the note for spelling mistakes using your browser's Spell Check feature of your browser.

  • When you click the dark gray bar that is on an annotation or the options on the right, a light gray bar will appear below the dark gray bar. Depending on the tools of the annotation you have different options:
    • Annotation: change the color or style of the selected annotation. You can also change the background colour and font;
    • Highlighter/pen: change the color and density of the highlighter and pen. You can also change the background colour and font;
    • Note: change the color of the notes and the icon signaling a note. Note that this allows you to create a difference in the type of note you are using. (for example when a student needs to add an additional blank line you can use a different icon than you would use when a student needs to alter their text);
    • Text box: change the font, text size and color of the text boxes;
    • Line/arrow/frame: change the color, density and style of the lines, arrows and frames;
    • You can delete an annotation by clicking on the trashcan icon on the right.

Brightspace remembers your chosen preferred settings. When you select the desired settings for the tool you do not need to set them up again when you use the tool a next time.

Pay attention! When the submitted document contains (detailed) graphs, formulas, or diagrams, it could look different compared to the original document. This is because Brightspace turns the document into a PDF. As lecturer you can always download the source file.

Publishing Feedback

  • On the right side it is possible to add an assessment and feedback under Rubrics, Overall Score and/or Overall Feedback. When you are finished writing the annotations, you can publish the feedback.
  • Click on Publish to publish the feedback, allowing the student to see it.
  • Click Save Draft to save the draft while you are working on it. If you click Save Draft you can resume the assessment at a later moment; students cannot yet see it.
  • Click the arrow to assess the next student.
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