NB is an in-place collaborative document annotation website targeting students reading lecture notes and draft textbooks. Serving as a discussion forum in the document margins, NB lets users ask and answer questions about their reading mate- rial as they are reading. We describe the NB system and its evaluation in a real class environment, where students used it to submit their reading assignments, ask questions and get or provide feedback. We show that this tool has been success- fully incorporated into numerous classes at several institu- tions. To understand how and why, we focus on a particularly successful class deployment where the instructor adapted his teaching style to take students’ comment into account. We an- alyze the annotation practices that were observed—including the way geographic locality was exploited in ways unavail- able in traditional forums—and discuss general design impli- cations for online annotation tools in academia.
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