Sometimes in Jisc you come across incredibly useful tools that do one thing really well. So much so that you wonder how you managed to do without it!
The eMargin tool, funded by Jisc and developed by a team at Birmingham City University led by Andrew Kehoe is a simple, user-friendly way to share and manage annotations on any text. It’s perfect for critiques of papers (especially policy papers in my world), deep analysis of research publications, giving feedback on written work, looking at the structure of poetry or prose… the possibilities are endless.
After a simple sign-in you can use the web version: uploading, pasting, or grabbing text from the web and saving the resultant text plus annotations for others to work with. The code is on sourceforge so you can feel free to host your own implementation whereever you like.
The additional (benefits realisation) work done over the past year, allows – via IMS LTI – full integration with your institutional VLE. So rather than having to set up groups and sign-in at the application itself, you can just use what you have already done on your VLE. This feature, and the beautiful simplicity of the tool itself, has led to a whole range of departments and faculties (from all over the world, and from far beyond the initial project setting of English Literature).
For all the hyperbole and hysteria in educational technology, most of the best tools are developed by small, in-house units attached to institutions. What really shines through with eMargin is that it meets a clear need, and it is designed around the practices and expectations of learners and educators.
But go and have a play!