There are many interesting tools you can use with a class to mark up and add annotations to text, images, or even videos. Here are a few.
Hypothes.is – a non-profit project to bring annotation tools to just about any text that is on the web. It is increasingly being built into scholarly publishing systems, book publishers’ digital output, and news organizations, with the somewhat naive assumption that commenting is healthy and good, and vandalism, snark, and endlessly stupid arguments won’t happen among enlightened individuals. (Needless to say, this is unlikely to prove true.) The good news is that you can annotate documents privately and can create private groups so that students can annotate an online document, see one another’s comments, and have a discussion in the margins.
NowComment – a similar tool to annotate web text (privately is the default, but comments can be made public) or to make group comments on a Word document privately uploaded to the site; PDF is another option, but it doesn’t always work reliably.
ThingLink is a tool for annotating images that can be uploaded to Moodle or Google Drive or kept on one’s computer. A free version is available for annotating images. With a paid education account, you can also annotate video.
In addition to annotating texts and images, you can easily visualize textual material using word clouds – images that show the prominence of words in a text. Here are a couple of easy tools:
Wordl – a classic word cloud tool that has a web or downloadable version.
Voyant – a more robust tool for word clouds and text analysis.
Photo by Alfred T. Palmer of workers mounting a motor in a B-52 taken around 1939. It’s in the collection of the Library of Congress and has no known copyright restrictions.