Feedback is central to a teacher/student relationship, and the more we experiment with existing feedback tools the more we feel that e-learning technology company’s have forsaken this crucial process for more glitzy tools – like streaming media drop boxes and VoIP solutions. But does a teacher need a wi-fi Skype phone in her classroom? Or a better way to give constructive feedback to her students?
As a small step towards remedying, I have been involved with a project called 11trees.com. 11trees.com’s first tool – available in free and PRO versions – is a customized add-in for Microsoft Word that makes it easy to add many of the typical comments teachers make to students on their writing (at least in high school and college) to a Microsoft Word document.
So many of us are collecting work electronically, or reviewing drafts that our students email to us, that it just makes sense to have a more legible, efficient tool to leverage Microsoft Word.
We released a version for Word 2007 (isn’t it almost 2009?) and many teachers and administrators have found us through Amazon.com, this blog, and kind mentions in a number of different publications and blogs. But we also heard from a large number of teachers begging us to build a version for the Mac or Word 2003.
Apple is whole other kettle of fish, unfortunately, although we are exploring a Mac Office 2008 version of Annotate. But Word 2003 was a no-brainer, since so many institutions and individuals have resisted – often for good reasons – upgrading.
The Ribbon interface that is new to Word 2007 is the first major change to Word in many, many years. Most users find it daunting at first (where did my commands go?), but quickly get used to the new arrangement. Because features are grouped by their larger function, Word 2007 can be considerably easier to use than previous versions. The Annotate Ribbon integrates seamlessly with the Word 2007 user interface, and we recommend considering upgrading if you have the opportunity (many schools offer upgrades to teachers for free).
That said, Word 2003 works just fine, most people already have it. So we worked hard through the first couple of weeks of October to develop a Word 2003 version, which in some ways is superior to the Word 2007 version (hot-keys, for one reason).
So check out Annotate for Word 2003!