10 Things we Learned at Annotated 2024

By Cara Jarrett | 24 April, 2024

10 Things We Learned at AnnotatED 2024

If you thought social annotation was just an EdTech buzzword, AnnotatED 2024 was here to prove you wrong. This year’s conference was a hub of innovation, offering insights on how educators, administrators, and students can use social annotation to transform the teaching and learning experience. With interactive sessions, cutting-edge technology discussions, and real-world success stories, it was a two-day event packed with inspiration.

Join us as we dive into the 10 things we learned at AnnotatED 2024 that are reshaping the way we think about online annotation in education.

  1. The “Watering Hole” Strategy by Nita Gopal

Nita Gopal, a faculty member at Modesto Junior College, focused her session on creating social annotation strategies that brought a new perspective on the students’ sense of self. She introduced the “watering hole” strategy, a concept where students gather around anchored annotations to share thoughts and opinions. This strategy resonated well with Gen Z students, who are accustomed to sharing their lives on social media. Gopal noted that when students developed a sense of self through annotations, it enhanced their learning experience.

  1. Jilliana Enteen on Psychological Safety

Jilliana Enteen, a faculty member from Northwestern University, highlighted the role of social annotations in fostering psychological safety for students with different learning styles. She found that even the quietest students actively participated by leaving annotations. Annotations created a secure environment, allowing students to express their thoughts without fear of judgment. This safety net encouraged deeper discussions in the classroom, as students felt more comfortable sharing their opinions.

  1. Hypothesis Launches a New Student Pay Model with VitalSource

A significant announcement from the conference was Hypothesis’s new student pay model through VitalSource. This initiative aims to provide both faculty and students with greater access to social annotation tools, allowing them to engage more deeply with course materials. The new pay model will allow instructors to use Hypothesis through VitalSource and other course materials  without an institutional agreement. 

  1. Jason Leggett’s Innovative Use of AtlasTI

Jason Leggett, a faculty member at Kingsborough Community College, sparked interest with his innovative use of AtlasTI to gather and pull data from his syllabus after he equitized it. This approach allowed him to analyze feedback from social annotation assignments and make necessary adjustments to improve student engagement. Additionally, he used AtlasAI to guide students back to the syllabus for various reasons throughout the term, promoting ongoing interaction with the course content.

  1. Katy Pearce’s “Hypothesis Highlight” Strategy

Katy Pearce, a faculty member of the University of Washington, shared a unique strategy to encourage student engagement through a “Hypothesis Highlight.” Each week, she spotlighted a particularly well-written or insightful annotation to demonstrate effective annotation techniques and inspire meaningful conversation. This approach ignited a friendly competition among students, who started messaging Pearce to watch for their annotations. She emphasized the importance of keeping track of featured annotations to ensure everyone gets a fair chance at recognition.

  1. Rachel Rigolino Moves from Discussion Boards to Social Annotation

Rachel Rigolino, a faculty member at SUNY New Paltz, recognized that after using discussion boards in her learning management system (LMS) for over 20 years, she was shifting away from them and to Hypothesis social annotation. She found that annotations over content led to more dynamic discussions and created a stronger community of learners. This transition complemented her Open Educational Resources (OER) and JSTOR materials better than traditional discussion boards, offering a new way to engage students.

  1. Jennifer Young’s Social Learning Success Story

Jennifer Young, a faculty member and 2023 Social Learning Innovator Award recipient, noticed significant improvements in student outcomes after implementing social annotation. She reported a 2100% increase in student-instructor interaction (RSI), which played a key role in course accreditation at her institution. Failure rates in her courses dropped by 5-33%, and 4-24% of students saw their grades improve, demonstrating the positive impact social annotation can have on educational success and student retention.

  1. Ashley Love’s Insights on Graduate and Doctoral Student Engagement

Dr. Ashley Love, a faculty member from the University of the Incarnate Word, joined by her doctoral students, shared insights on how social annotation helps keep graduate students engaged. During her session, her doctoral students discussed how social annotation fosters peer-to-peer learning and enhances metacognitive thinking skills. The grad students also noted that social annotation made collaboration easier and more frequent, helping them review course materials while refining their own ideas and thoughts about the content. This feedback illustrates the versatile benefits of social annotation across different levels of education.

     9. Leigh Heisel’s Use of the JSTOR and Hypothesis Integration

Leigh Heisel, a faculty member at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, utilized the JSTOR and Hypothesis integration to create a seamless approach for annotating scholarly course materials. This integration provided multiple perspectives and allowed Heisel to identify key areas of focus for her students. She also implemented a system where graduate students could answer undergraduate students’ questions through social annotation, fostering a collaborative learning environment. Both grad and undergrad students appreciated that conversations and content were in one place, making it easy to discuss and engage with the course material.

  1. Brian O’Conner’s Interactive First-Year Writing Coursebook

Brian O’Conner, a faculty member of Dartmouth College, transformed his first-year writing coursebook into an interactive workspace. He used social annotation to help students navigate complex readings with faculty-led annotations. This approach was particularly effective for first-year students who often struggle with close reading. O’Conner noticed that this method led to quicker student comprehension, improved course retention, enhanced accessibility, and supported student metacognitive skills.


The AnnotatED 2024 conference provided invaluable insights into the power of social annotation in education. From improving student engagement and psychological safety to fostering collaboration across different academic levels, social annotation is proving to be a versatile tool for enhancing learning outcomes. These 10 takeaways demonstrate the transformative potential of social annotation, offering practical strategies and inspiring success stories that educators and administrators can apply to their own courses and institutions.

As we move forward, it’s clear that social annotation will continue to play a crucial role in shaping the future of education, creating more interactive and collaborative learning environments. We look forward to seeing how educators continue to build on these insights and further explore the benefits of social annotation at future AnnotatED conferences. 

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