Since the launch of the Slice image bank in October 2013, we’ve collected feedback from academics and students to design new features that make interacting with images easier and more conducive to running different class styles, many of which we’ve featured here on the blog. In 2015, sponsored by a UNSW Learning and Teaching Innovation Grant, the BEST Network team are developing new functionality to enable group annotation on Slice.

Back in Semester 1 2014, Slice was used in the Rational Use of Investigation course at UNSW, where students used the Slice annotation tool to identify histopathological features of disease before sharing their annotations on a Moodle database. This enabled collaboration between students, giving them the opportunity to compare their responses to those of their peers. At the same time, academics received real-time feedback as to the students understanding of the material and could review both correct and incorrect responses immediately.

Keen to further develop the collaborative aspect of the Slice annotation tool, academics applied for and received funding from UNSW. The grant aims to enhance and test student-student and student-teacher collaboration using Slice by developing functionality to allow students and teachers to mark up images collaboratively. This will remove the need to rely on a Learning Management System for sharing resources.

The current Slice functionality allows students to annotate images with pins or polygons to make study notes, but does not allow any student-student, student-teacher interaction (left). The new Slice functionality (right) allows students to annotate together in real-time, facilitating immediate in class feedback for both the student and the teacher. In the left hand panel of each image are a list of annotations made by one student (left), and 3 of 16 students (right) (names blurred for anonymity).

Collaborative Slice allows you to:

  • Facilitate group work
  • Ask students to create an annotation in response to a question and view their annotations immediately
  • Create a ‘heat map’ of student responses
  • Keep students anonymous or associate annotations with each user
  • Allow students to see each other’s responses, or keep them private
  • Identify student misconceptions immediately and rectify in class

The project runs to the end of the year and will continue to test and create guidelines for using the new tool. The functionality is also available for use at BEST Network partner institutions. If you are interested in trialling the tool in your classes, please email to arrange access for you and your students.