Collaborative Annotations - Find one feature

November 18, 2015

Upon the release of the Slice annotation tool, a team of academics at UNSW Australia trialled the functionality in eight class activities. In this series, we’ll be sharing what worked, what didn’t and how you can try this in your own classes.

Overview of activity

This activity was designed to test how the annotation tool worked when students were asked to:

  • Work in small groups, to
  • Find one feature,
  • On which they would receive teacher feedback regarding their understanding

In one of his histology practical classes, Patrick de Permentier designed an activity where students were required to find one example of a Sertoli cell. A Sertoli cell is a "nurse" cell of the testis that is part of a seminiferous tubule which helps in the process of spermatogenesis.

Judging by exam results from previous years, identification of Sertoli cells was a common error. One example of a Sertoli cell was annotated on the shared layer before students were asked to find another example.

What worked:

  • Keeping the activity simple, focusing on a single feature kept the exercise short and fast.
  • Anonymising student results promoted participation in the activity.
  • Verbal feedback was given on as many examples as possible.

What didn’t work:

  • Breaking students into small groups to reduce the number of annotations on a layer, but only providing feedback on one layer disappointed some students who didn’t have their work reviewed.
  • Allowing students to annotate cells across the entire slide made review slower – in this case consider providing a hyperlink to a smaller area to speed up analysisNote – Zooming into a smaller area on a Slice image updates the URL to include information that specifies the area which is being viewed. Sharing this version of the URL within the layer description will direct people to a specific area.

Tips for conducting a similar exercise:

  • Use the ‘Jump to’ feature to quickly review annotations. Click the blank space next to the title of an annotation, or on the description of the annotation to ‘jump to’ and highlight each annotation when you are zoomed in.
  • For these simple activities, consider having all students annotate on one layer and provide feedback for as many annotations as possible in a set time period. Give students the option to ask questions if there were still misconceptions.

General Advice: Register all of your students on Slice first and then teach them to annotate. This makes trialling a different style of class much easier. To register your students or to use collaborative annotations in your own classes, watch our short video or contact