Engaging students with Zoom through the annotate feature

One way I’ve found to increase student engagement with Zoom is through the use of the annotate feature. You need to “enable all users” to use the annotate button, and probably need to coach them on how to find and use it. On finding it, I usually have another student coach the rest because their platform looks different than the instructor platform. The main annotation function I have used so far has been the text button. The main issue they had was learning how to move their text to fit in a table cell (use the select key) and how to make the font size smaller (double click in the text box, highlight text, click on format and in the bottom corner on the number (which is font size) to adjust. You could also create a value or competency line and ask them to place a mark on that line as to where they fall. But for today, let’s look at how the annotate feature can be used.

Individual Sharing. In my first class focused on research, I had students identify their top three research interests as a quick way for me to see (and then referent back to, and incorporate) their research interests at once, and to also find connections among each other.

Partner Reports. In the image below, I followed up a partnering activity in breakout rooms with having them add a brief summary text to a blank table that I had as a Powerpoint slide. Once they completed it, I had the pairs share the key points, and observations about similarities/differences. The conversation was straightforward at first, but deepened as we went.

Critiquing. Provide something for students to look at and invite their brief evaluation on it. On the slide below, I had a pre-created table with their names on it and asked them to evaluate the abstract. To make the best us of time, I didn’t ask all of them to share, but just those who said CBB or no.

Combo Deal. In this slide, I asked students to input a title of an article they were interested in using, and had pre-assigned students to give a grade to another person’s title of that article. Then I went through and made general observations on the “A” ones, and asked for the reasons for the other ratings.

Course Takeaways. In a course I co-taught this summer (career development for art therapy majors), my colleague created this toolbox for the last day of class, asking students to type in one new “tool” they were adding to their toolbox as a result of the class. (Clearly, they hadn’t mastered the select tool to move text yet). Of course, this doesn’t need to be limited to the last day of class, but could be used throughout the semester to allow student application of the material covered. Images also provide a different “feel” than a table.

Conclusion. One of my goals for teaching is that every student is actively engaged during my online class. It’s hard when you can’t see all of them at one time, and even if you could, it’s not practical to have every person comment on every question you raise. Inviting them to add their thoughts to slides or whiteboards is one way to make sure everyone’s “voice” is “heard,” or at least seen.

My personal challenge for next week is to try to use at least one image background per class instead of overusing my trusty go-to of the table. In addition, I want to try having students use something different than the text button, such as placing a mark on a value line.

How have you used the annotate feature in zoom? What challenges have you found, and how have you addressed them? Hit us up in the comments!

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