Citekey: @Chen2012c

Chen, Y.-C., Hwang, R.-H., & Wang, C.-Y. (2012). Development and evaluation of a Web 2.0 annotation system as a learning tool in an e-learning environment. Computers & Education, 58(4), 1094–1105. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2011.12.017


This study implements MyNote, the web annotation system primarily tied to an LMS, and evaluate usability of this system with students. This system does not adhere to any web annotation standards.


The purpose of this study was to develop a Web 2.0 annotation system, MyNote, based on the Web 2.0 core concepts which emphasize ease of access and active sharing and then to gain an understanding about people’s perceptions of MyNote from a usability perspective. (p. 1094)

MyNote was employed on multimedia learning objects in a Learning Management System (LMS), and out of the LMS as well (p. 1094)

Many researchers have reported that Web 2.0 based learning tools or systems provide effective platforms for collaborative learning and knowledge sharing (Barak et al., 2009; Hwang, Wang, & Sharples, 2007; Jones, Blackey, Fitzgibbon, & Chew, 2010; Su, Yang, Hwang, & Zhang, 2010). However, in a Learning Management System (LMS), the use of blogs or Wikis mainly offers a supplemental place separated from the main learning content and materials for students to share or construct their knowledge. We believe that Web 2.0 technology should be able to provide a more intuitive way for students to learn and to interact at the same time when they focus on learning multimedia materials. (p. 1094)

The research questions addressed in this study are: (1) What characteristics does a Web 2.0 annotation system possess in order to foster online learning? (2) How do users perceive MyNote as an online learning tool? (p. 1095)

  1. Theoretical framework (p. 1095)

2.1. Online learning communities (p. 1095)

2.2. Collaborative learning (p. 1095)

a quick shallow/brief accounts of collaborative learning (p. 1095)

knowledge is built through interaction with environment, including materials and people (Jonassen, Peck, & Wilson, 1999). (p. 1095)

2.3. Annotation system (p. 1095)

However, the study of online annotation systems utilized in LMS has not been emphasized until recently (Ahern, 2005; Annotea, 2001; Hwang & Wang, 2004; Hwang et al., 2007; Su et al., 2010). (p. 1095)

Several studies have shown the benefits of online annotation systems on work efficiency and learning performance (Ahern, 2005; Cadiz, Gupta, & Grudin, 2000; Gupta, Condit, & Gupta, 2008; Hwang et al., 2007; Marshall & Brush, 2004; Nokelainen, Kurhila, Miettinen, Floreen, & Tirri, 2003; Quade, 1996; Robert, 2009; Su et al., 2010). Quade (1996) indicated that students learned more with computer-based annotation, rather than paper-based, in computer-based learning environments. Ahern (2005) found the use of online annotation software – Red Pencil, encouraged students to engage in learning activities. However, the interface design might interfere with students’ reading. Nokelainen et al. (2003) found that EDUCOSM, an annotation system fostered learner-centered collaborative learning and students who liked to use the tool elaborated more about their work. (p. 1095)

In the workplace, web annotations successfully promote the work efficiency through context-based discussion with documents (Cadiz et al., 2000). Gupta et al. (2008) even created an annotation management system, Graphitti, to facilitate annotation among heterogeneous objects in scientific data. (p. 1095)

online annotation systems can serve as a “mindtool” (Jonassen, 1996) to inspire student thinking and may act as a catalyst to foster collaborative learning and peer interaction. (p. 1095)

Another concern of annotation systems for online learning is its universal use across different browsers and LMSs. Learning online is not only limited within a LMS. On the contrary, learners often search information or resources out of the LMS as supplemental materials. Therefore, annotation systems for online learning should be versatile to accommodate different systems and interfaces. (p. 1096)

Azouaou, Chen, and Desmoulins (2004) proposed three principles to develop annotation systems for e-learning, including usefulness, shareability, and usability. (p. 1096)

2.4. Prototype of Web 2.0 annotation system (p. 1096)

collective intelligence (p. 1096)

That is, it should serve as a platform to harness collective intelligence, just like blogs or Wikis with access control. The annotation system not only allows learners to make annotations on multimedia learning objects, more importantly, it also allows them to read annotations made by others, reply to questions posted by others, and search annotations via keywords or category, etc, on learning objects. (p. 1096)

  1. MyNote annotation system (p. 1096)

The MyNote Annotation system is embedded in a Learning Management System (LMS). (p. 1096)

3.2. User interface and functions (p. 1097)

  1. Evaluation of Web 2.0 annotation system (p. 1101)

The purpose of usability testing is to gain users’ feedback in order to improve the interface design and its effectiveness. It emphasizes empirical tests to gather data to evaluate the effectiveness of the interface (Torres, 2002; Treu, 1994). Several methods could be employed in the usability testing process (Nielsen, 1993) based upon the lifecycle stage of products. The questionnaire method was adopted in this study to gain users’ perceptions and experiences when they interact with MyNote annotation system. (p. 1101)

A paper-based questionnaire was developed in two parts to assess the subject’s experience interacting with MyNote and their personal backgrounds. (p. 1101)

  1. Discussion and conclusion (p. 1103)

Azouaou, F., Chen, W., & Desmoulins, C. (2004). Semantic annotation tools for learning material. Paper presented in International Workshop on Applications of Semantic Web Technologies for e-Learning, SW-EL04’. (p. 1104)

Brown, A. L., & Smiley, S. S. (1978). The development of strategies for studying texts. Child Development, 49(4), 1076–1088. (p. 1104)

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