A Guide to Creating an Annotator It is beyond the scope of this page to offer instructions on how to create an annotator. My recommendation is that you use the Annotator provided by Critical Tools. This tool is free to download, but doing so takes a little bit of time and expertise. Consult with your system administrator if you want to download it.
Once you have downloaded the tool, it is fairly user friendly. There are, however, a few features you should consider before you plan your unit around using the annotator tool.
1. Frames- The annotator tool uses frames so that a user can see a text and its annotation at the same time. That's a very useful capability. However, any time one uses frames, one must understand their limitations. In this case, the frames might become a liability when students attempt to include external links in their annotations. The link then appears within the frameset as a small window on the right hand side. (For an example, look at the annotation on Isidore of Seville within my test page). One way to get around this on a PC in Netscape is to instruct students how to right click on that section of the frame and "Open Frame in New Window." Another potential problem could arise if you wanted to place the annotator within a frameset of your own course page. A frameset within a frameset becomes increasingly difficult to navigate.
2. HTML- The document you place into the annotator must be encoded in HTML. If you have a text that requires special spacing on the page, you might not be able to represent it accurately. Special characters can also be a problem. You don't need to use much more HTML than the "<p>" and "<br>" tags for your text, but you might be frustrated that the output of the annotator is not exactly as you'd like.
3. Line Numbering- The lines and/or paragraphs must be numbered for the annotator to work. Again, that will alter the way the text looks. However, the benefits of annotation and discussion should usually outweigh the cost to appearances.
4. Unwanted Annotations- Your students may submit annotations you find misleading or innapropriate. It is up to you to deal with the way you handle that situation. Because they may type their own names into the annotator, they may also choose to type fake names or the names of other students. Be aware that this may happen. If you do not create password access for your site, the general public may also view and annotate the text. At some point, for whatever reason, you may wish to stop further annotations from being posted. You have the ability to shut down the site from the Instructor's Tools section.
5. Language- The annotator is an English-language tool. It is possible, however, to annotate non-English texts and to require non-English annotations. Again, however, for special characters, you must consider the appropriate HTML tags.
As an example for how to use the tool for a non-English text, I have created a page using a Latin passage adapted from Isidore of Seville. English-language examples can be found at the SITES examples page.