How to Annotate The Web: Three Tools For Teachers 1


In order to #questiontheweb we will first learn to annotate the web. Annotation is as old as text itself. Yet it has long been an interaction involving fewer readers in isolated incidence. Annotation has gone social.

This opens up wonderful opportunities for teachers to build text based analysis and text based discussion into the overall workflow of the class. Annotation requires a purpose, by focusing our annotations on questioning the web we can build up credibility skills.

How you annotate the web often depends on your text, platform, and browser. Some annotation tools work on iOS, some handle PDFs, some work in Chrome, and some tool are web-based and browser agnostic.

Three Tools to Annotate the Web

In this class we use two tool for annotation. and (click on my stream of annotations above) is an open source project built on open web standards, it handles pdfs nicely, but only works in Chrome. has features built for classroom teachers. Genius is web based and therefore available on any updated browser. You can upload texts or use a new beta feature to annotate websites.

Genius does not handle pdfs. Genius does allow inline embedding of video files. We will use this feature to conduct think-alouds of texts.

I also included a tool I learned about from Richard Byrne called CrocDoc. Some teachers may like the greater sharing and privacy options available to manage pdfs.

This tutorial will cover:

  • How to install
  • How to annotate the web
  • How to make multimodal annotations
  • How to share your annotations

How to install Hypothesis

Step One: Go to
Step Two: Click on Install Chrome Extension*
Step Three: Accept permission (note menu not visible in image below)

*Firefox extension coming soon

Step Four: A New Page will open up. Go to the page
Step Five: Click on Create Account
Step Six: Use a username (pseudonyms allowed –good for student privacy but I would stick with Twitter handle for adult learners)
Step Seven: Add email, and password

Step Eight: Check your email and activate account:

How to Annotate the Web

Step One: Choose a text worthy of reading
Step Two: Click on the speech box in the upper right hand corner.
Step Three: Highlight Text
Step Four: Click on Pen

Step Five: Add an annotation
Step Six: Click Save

How to Make Multimodal Annotations

Add an Image

Step One: Find the relevant image. Copy the image url (right click on image>save image url)
Step Two: Highlight text and click on the annotation pen.
Step Three: Copy your image url into the code.
Step Four: Add an image description
Step Five: Add an optional description below. This texts will show allowing the web to be accessible to all.

Add a Link:

Step One: Highlight Text:
Step Two: Click on Link:
Step Three: Copy in Link:
Step Four: Type in the the link text

Important the bracket and parentheses must not be deleted.

How to Share Your Annotations

Tag your Annotations

Tagging your annotations lets people find them.

Step One: add a questiontheweb tag (note the “#” sign is not necessary)
Step Two: add a tag if this annotation refers to a specific code book tag (claim, evidence, source)
Step Three: Add an optional classroom tag is assigned by the instructor.

Step Four: View the stream. Click on a tag.
Step Five: Share the link to the stream anywhere

Share your Annotations

Step One: Click on Share
Step Two: Send out link on your social networks using #QuestionTheWeb hashtag.

Other great features:

You can also reply directly to other annotations by clicking reply.
You can set any annotation to private or public.


Genius is a powerful free tool that educators use. The best feature of genius are the open and public pages where works of literature, rap, and news are annotated. Editors model close reading within disciplinary literacies.

While the public pages provide a great source of mentor texts teachers may want to use classroom pages as to scaffold students into the conversations held within texts.

First create an account.

Sign Up for an Account
― “A Teacher’s Guide to Genius” by Education Genius

Then request an educator account.

Genius Educator Accounts ― “A Teacher’s Guide to Genius” by Education Genius

Then create a class page.

Creating Class Pages
― “A Teacher’s Guide to Genius” by Education Genius

This tutorial all came from the Educator Genius Guide

Once you have a class page you can utilize the tags to organize students. Create tags for different credibility markers and classes. This allows you to quickly look at your data and adjust instruction when needed.


While we will not be using CrocDoc as part of #questiontheweb I wanted to share a breif tutorial. Some teachers may want to have greater control over the content and privacy of the files being shared.

If you do not want materials available on the open web and need to have students annotate PDFs I suggest using Crocdoc.

First make an account




Then you can create a shared folder:



From the shared folder you can set privacy settings. You can set it so students can only view, allow them to annotate, or allow them to upload to the folder.





You can find a source as a PDF or print articles and websites to PDF. Then upload the files to CrocDoc.

Locate Source


You can use powerful annotation tools such as highlighting, annotating texts and annotating sections.



Students can reply to each other’s annotations


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