Social Annotation

An example of Viddler’s time-line commenting capabilities in Mark Pesce‘s 2008 talk, Hyperpolitics (American Style).

The ability to interact with online resources and collaboratively engage with others around those resources may well have the most profound impact on you and your colleagues as researchers and scholars. But to take advantage of the full potential of the collaborative, sharing aspect of these environments could require a rethinking of how and with whom humanities scholars work.

This week you’ll have the opportunity to evaluate tools that make use of social annotation. How useful could they be for our students? Do you think it’s possible to have our students use these tools to learn and share collaboratively if we don’t use them ourselves to support our own learning and sharing? Do you agree with Richard Miller, who challenges us to “push ideas into our culture”, by placing them out on the web, thereby “showing the world what the university is for and that’s for ideas that belong to no one.”? 


13 Responses to “Social Annotation”

  1. edadedebas Says:

    Lingro is a free, online dictionary and translation resource. It is founded by two students of computer science. Artur, one of the founders is very interested in learning languages but he finds it distracting to look up words all the time so he built this software. There are 3 missions of Lingro: Translate, Learn and Collaborate. In the Translate section, it provides a free dictionary and two important translation tools. Through its “web viewer” and “file viewer” sections, Lingro makes it possible to look up a new vocabulary instantly from the web-based text by simply clicking on the word. If the text is not web-based, it is still possible to upload an existing document and look up the new words with a simple click. Secondly, the “Learn” tool automatically keeps the records of words and sentences that the users have looked up. The users can create word lists, keep word history and create flash cards with the help of the games tool. I think Learn tool is the most efficient one since the language learners tend to forget the new vocabulary. It provides them an easy way to keep the records of the new vocabulary. Finally, the third option is “Collaborate”. The users can help the owners to build dictionary. Under “Dictionary builder”, there is a list of missing words and the users can contribute by writing down the meanings of the words not listed in the dictionaries.

    I think Lingro is a great and fun way of learning new vocabulary. It eases the language learner’s pain by providing the meanings of the new words with just one click. I think the web viewer and the file viewers are the most efficient ones and could be implemented in a language class. For instance, it is possible to ask the students to do research on a certain topic by using the web sites in the target language only. By using Lingro, they can keep the list of the new words they have looked up in the research and then create a word list under Learn section. This could be a 30-minute activity. One of the downsides of Lingro is that the dictionaries and translations can be found in limited languages only.

    • soledadre Says:

      Hello Eda, I learnt about Lingro the other day and I really liked it. For learning purposes I loved the storage of the web sites from were you looked up the words. I think that keeping the context in which words were found will help users to learn “vocabulary in use” and not just words. It will give the non-native (or even the native) speakers a confidence for using the words since they know contexts in which they can be used.
      I also liked the games, because they encourage the learning. I remember playing a game of linking words and pictures, it was not a too much elaborate game but it distracted me at the same time that I was unconsciously learning new words.
      However, for teaching purposes within the classroom it will be complicate because it requires technology, so it could just be some punctual use in an tech class. On the other hand, I would really encourage students to use it outside the classroom since it can be very helpful: learning at the same time that playing and saving time.

      • edadedebas Says:

        Hi Soledad,

        Thanks for the comment. You may be right. It may be better to include Lingro under suggested learning tools. I understand your point about learning a new word in a context. It makes sense. But I really like the web viewer and the file viewer tools. Just the founder of the website, I find it too distracting to look up every single word while I am reading. These two tools motivate me to read more texts in target languages and to improve my German and Spanish. We can further discuss it in class

  2. soledadre Says: was created in 1999 as a free online bilingual dictionary in several languages. Today is one of the most-used online dictionaries since it provides for 15 English -XXX dictionaries and two more from Spanish to French and Portuguese. Moreover, it also has English and Spanish monolingual and synonym dictionaries, as well as verb conjugators in English, Spanish, French (thanks God!!) and Italian.

    I have been using wordreference for years. It is a great source because you can find many words, expressions, idioms, etc., and they are almost always given with an example. The different entries are very well organized under categories and with explanatory information. Let me show you an example. “Correr” is given the following translations (among others):
    b. ( Dep ) [atleta] to run;
    [caballo] to run; sale a ~ todas las mañanas_she goes for a run every morning
    c. ( Auto, Dep ) [piloto/conductor] to race

    However, even when it has thousands of words, specialized ones cannot always be found and here is when my favorite wordreference tool comes out: the forums. I have used the English and French forums for translating purposes. Sometimes I need “something else” in the meaning of a word to be able to find the accurate equivalent according to the context. In those forums everyone can participate and ask (although you must be registered), but there are forum moderators/experts that manage and filter the different posts. In the forums appear some data about contributors so you know about their proficiency in the language:
    “Join Date: Jun 2007
    Location: Valencia
    Native language: SPAIN – SPANISH
    Posts: 8,150”

    I think wordreference can be a great tool for our students but it is important to remember them the importance of the different entries of a word. Students tend to pick up the first translation that they find without even looking at the rest. We need to show them to be a little bit more patient because the results will be extremely better. Moreover, we should encourage them to use the forums as a way of realizing the importance of context in the use of languages: they will be always ask to give as much context as possible.

    • loisramirez Says:

      I have been using wordreference for over 5 years. It is a great tool to find words that are culturally specific. The forum option it is also a great way to find different versions of some words. At times it might be overwhelming, since some threads do seem to go on forever, but for most part people tend to be straight to the point and very accurate. I think this would be great as a culturally specific activity after watching a movie that has a lot of local phrases, and see how they translate into English. As you said students are used to just using the first word they see, but I think with this site they can see how one word can be applied in various context.

      • marineuconn Says:

        Me too! I have been using WR for years and I always tell my students about its existence, laying the stress on the forum where you can find words in context or ask a native speaker for his opinion. I no longer (or rarely) use “real” dictionaries.. as you can have the answer in one click. I also use the forum to look up words/ expressions that I don’t know in my mother-tongue.. Because of the numbers of expressions (in context) you can find, it makes it more accurate than a real dictionary. The only thing missing is a speaking option to listen to words pronunciations!

        • rosariopollicino Says:

          Hello everyone,

          Let me just add that I truly beleive wordreferece is a very good tool and as you have already say it could even substitute the use of a paper dictonary. However, I suggest to combine it with Forvo the otehr tool we have explored in class all together. Forvo is the software which gives pronounciation of words found in a dictionary. It is extremely useful as the pronounciation is paper dictionaries is provided only in phonetic sign and most of the student approaching a foreign language have never studied and we certainly can’t go through that during our classes.
          I really suggest forvo as this is going to be a copleting tool so when they look for a word they also know how to pronounce it. I believe this is going to improve the way of studying languages independently and we need to highlight these two softwares to our students together.

          • soledadre Says:

            Well, in fact Wordreference provide the pronunciation option but just in English (British and AmE) and Spanish and not in all words, so yes, it would be great to combine it with Forvo!!

  3. loisramirez Says:

    Stixy is a web based bulletin board. You can edit, add organize the bulletin board however you want (since we all have our own unique ways of organizing). You can also share bulletin boards with other people; they will get the same editing privileges as you. With Stixy you can have several bulletin boards, so this is great if you want to create one exclusively for your section or a topic. Another important feature is that you do not need to install any additional programs (just internet access) and the size of the bulletin board can be expanded. You may add pictures, documents, sticky notes and TO DO lists. The whole concept of this site is to break boundaries of organization (in a way) by allowing the user to add the content and organizing it their way. I think this would be a great tool for a classroom on a specific topic. You may want you student to make an autobiography in which they can incorporate pictures, memories, and write in the target language. With the task option you may help them by giving them pointers on what else is expected and missing in their own bulletin board. I am sure there are many other projects that can be done with this site, such as a study guide or discussion post for a book that is being read. Stixy is completely free and is a up and coming website. You may have access to your bulletin board at any time as long as you have an internet connection and sing into your Stixy account.

    • edadedebas Says:

      Hi Lois,

      Thanks for the summary. This looks like a very interesting website. I think this site can be used for culture, civilization, literature and film courses as well. Once you create your own online bulletin board, I assume it is also possible to use it later as a study guide as well. It is a great opportunity to be able to access it any time. Thank you 🙂

  4. rosariopollicino Says:

    Diigo is an extremely important tool either for learning and teaching. In both situations we as students or our students themselves need to look for online resources learning material which is available nowadays. But these information that we can find online today are actually a lot more than we may need from time to time so to assess the one we really need for our single case is the secret for a successful of the online resources.
    This assessment of information is not the only important stage of our teaching or learning process we need also to keep the results of our research
    1) Ordered: We divide it per topic as we will be engaged with different topics during our studies (either as a student and educator)
    2) Able to share with our peers or our students, who will also be able to share with their peers.
    3) Getting in touch with other scholars of the same topic through bookmarking.
    4) It’s also possible highlight parts of a text we want to share or attract the attention to, add sticky notes with further explanation, we can also collect pictures, documents, audio etc.
    5) Have access to our selection of this different material from any computer in the world making impossible to forget or not finding them when travelling for example.
    If I have to find a defect (because I believe that nothing is perfect) is that people need to be registered so whether we want to use it as educators or students we need to make sure that the people we would like to interact with have actually an account.
    I have not personally used it because as instructor I have been assigned an elementary course which does not give me a lot of chance to look for other sources on the net however i believe i will shortly start using it as a student as I am starting doing research for my courses so I will be more than happy to keep you all posted with my personal experience as a Diigo user.

  5. marineuconn Says:


    Watch videos with subtitles in the language you want! With dotSUB you can:
    Watch a video with subtitles in your language
    Upload a video (from personal desktop or URL)
    Transcribe a video (translate oral cues into subtitles)
    Translate a video = create you own subtitles in the language(s) you speak
    You don’t need to create an account to watch videos but you need one to transcribe and or to translate a video. There is one separate tutorial for each action and a FAQ rubric.You can make your video private or public; you can choose among different license options. You can search for videos using entries such as most views, latest, language (including source language), genre etc.

    dotSUB is definitely a smart tool for people interested in languages and cultures. Languages are no longer barriers to access foreign discourses. dotSUB can also provide projects for the classroom, both at the cultural level and at the language level.

    • rosariopollicino Says:

      Hi Marine,
      dotSub is one of thse tool we presented during our face to face that I have to say I enjoyed very much. I have been showing videos and films a lot of time to my students and have to say that it is always a challenge for them tryngi to understand them. So in the past i used to stop asking people to summarize or doing myself. This was obviously breaking the flow of an entire lesson and the learning of my students too beside the fact of being very hard to really help them as reminding all words exact expresin used and so on.
      Well this now definitely improve this way of using viedos during class and can’t wait to try it maybe when I will have a higher level of students. Thanks for your summary and for you presentation in class.

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