NB (nota bene) is a web-based collaborative annotation tool that facilitates communication among students and their instructors, centered around better understanding of course reading material.
Designed by the Haystack Group in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT, NB reflects the collective efforts of Prof David Karger and graduate student Sasha Zyto.
Recipient of a D'Arbeloff grant and the 2009 Microsoft Research iCampus Technology Innovation Student Prize, the NB tool is currently used in several MIT courses and in over 100 courses in 10 external institutions.
In Karger and Zyto's words, "NB encourages students to participate in the class material, even students who are not verbally active in class. Questions and comments from students as well as replies from faculty are displayed inplace and provide a new perspective on the content. Evaluation shows that students prefer to use [the] online tool to read their notes, rather than printing out copies that are missing these annotations. Finally, NB provides comment browsing interfaces that help scale the staff’s workload of coping with reading assignments in large classes."
Further insights from Karger describe examples of NB's effectiveness to clarify ideas by situating them where they will have maximum meaning to students: "NB is a tool that enables and encourages students and faculty to collaboratively author and discuss questions, comments, and answers in the margins of online lecture notes. Like an online forum, NB leverages the insights of all students to clarify ideas and answer questions at a scale that a lone teacher cannot achieve. Unlike a forum, situating these insights in lecture-note margins makes them available and draws student attention to them at the specific moment those insights are needed."
In its role as an incubator of innovation, OEIT manages hosting and support in the project phase with an eye towards shaping future development and sustainability of this exciting initiative.
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