For quite some time, I have been working on eSkript, our web platform for interactive lecture material. One part of the interaction is possible through web annotation of the lecture material right there on eSkript.
In fall semester 2015/16 we launched the hypothes.is annotation that offers the possibility of private web annotations. The year before (2014/15), only public annotation had been possible and the students had given us very clear feedback that if private annotation were not possible, this was not to be used! One of the lectures that started was Bewegungs- und Sportbiomechanik with its lecture material on eSkript https://eskript.ethz.ch/bsb.
Here you can see one nice public annotation including a YouTube video.
There were almost no annotations throughout the semester. The stream of annotations for Bewegungs- und Sportbiomechanik only included seven annotations.
There weren’t many public annotations on any other eSkripts. I was worried. What could the reasons be? Especially, because the year before we had had more than a few hundreds on each eSkript. Reasons could be that eSkript and hypothes.is were not properly introduced to the students, that students were not motivated by the lecturers, that students simply disliked it. Another reason could be that the material was just perfect. The year before, all annotations of students — these indicated typos, errors, problem areas and unclear language — had all been implemented into the material. Was the material crystal clear? Already?
I do not have an answer to that question but being so worried, I wrote to hypothes.is and asked for usage data. Have our students been using private annotations? And this is what I got:
On URLs matching eskript.ethz.ch there are 200 public annotations and 1788 private annotations!
I was flabbergasted. Here is some of the data I got from hypohtes.is. Thank you guys!
Since September 2015 annotations have been made on 130 separate days on 137 eSkript URLs. (Bewegungs- und Sportbiomechanik has 35 URLs.) 72 users were active and six groups exist. (Roughly 400 students have been exposed to lecture material on eSkript since fall last year.) 1988 annotations have been made!
Of these 1988 annotations:
Of the 200 public annotations, I’m certain I have written almost 50 myself but I haven’t written 1778 private annotations. 🙂
Here is the count of annotations per lecture:
|Bewegungs- und Sportbiomechanik||Fall 2015/16||812|
|Bewegungs- und Sportbiomechanik – Übungen||Fall 2015/16||36|
|Solid State Physics and Chemistry of Materials I||Fall 2015/16||528|
|Physik 3||Fall 2015/16||265|
|Biomechanik 2||Spring 2016||212|
In sum these are 1853 annotations by roughly 60 students. The remaining 135 annotations are on the eSkript guides (User’s Guide, Author’s Guide) and other small reports (Computer Exams, Best Practice: Interactive Lecture Material). Biomechanik 2 with 212 annotations started mid February 2016 and is still running.
Last but not least, a very peculiar thing showed itself. hypothes.is gives you the possibilities of annotating publicly and privately but also of simple highlighting (without writing any comment to the highlighted text). These highlights are always private. Of the total of 1988 annotations only three (0.2%) are highlights. Why?
Maybe hypothes.is’ highlights do not work properly. (I don’t think so!) Maybe, if the students take the time to select text and are given a field to write their thoughts of the moment, they take this opportunity. Maybe, there is just space to write something down, space we didn’t have in our physical books 20 years ago.
To be continued… 🙂
UPDATE (April 18, 2017): There is a very simple explanation: The data that I got was wrong about the highlights. I got the new data, and in that period of time of these 1988 annotations 337 were text annotations and 1651 were highlights. As anyone would expect.