Mar 12, 2015

NowComment

NowComment is one of those tools that solves a problem you didn't realize you had. NowComment allows digital discussion of a document, allowing participants to directly connect their comments to specific points within the text. While this is possible through a shared Google Drive document, NowComment takes this a step further with easy to read threaded discussions and other useful features.

Startup
Accounts are free for both students and teachers. GAFE schools can use the "log in with Google" button to both create accounts and sign in.

Upload
Teachers (or students) can upload a document and invite a conversation directly associated with the content. Supported documents include MS Word, and MS Excel, and PDF (text will be extracted). Images can be uploaded, but text will not be converted. You can also copy/paste text from a website, document, or type text into a simple text editor.

Share
Once uploaded, documents can be shared publicly, with a group, or with individuals.  Teachers will find it easy to share documents for student discussion through teacher created groups. Participants can follow the emailed link or look for the document in their library. GAFE students without Gmail access will still be able to access assignments; all shared documents appear in the user's library.

Discuss
A single-click on a sentence brings readers to a highlighted section in the discussion pane. To quickly join the discussion, readers double-click on a sentence to open the new conversation box. They can choose to connect their comment to the sentence, paragraph, or document. Shorter comments (up to 255 characters) are required, lengthier comments are supported through an additional field.

Additional features
There are so many! Features are clearly labeled and explained, support is available through the Help section.
  • Browse the NowComment for Educational Use page for an overview, testimonials, and support documents.
  • A great feature for teachers is the ability to set minimum/maximum comments, access start and end dates, comment start and end dates, and hide comments until a specific date/time.
  • For teachers who see multiple sections or prefer to divide the class in small groups, there is an option to create a copy of an uploaded document to post to multiple classes or groups.
  • Prior to sharing, teachers can enable or disable a collection of highlighting tools. Users click the highlight tool, select the appropriate topic (important, unclear, agree, disagree), then click the sentence to highlight.
  • Through Download and Export Options, teachers can quickly see how many comments were made by each participant. 
  • There are two viewing options: 2 Pane shows the source text on the left and discussion on the right; Combined places comments after the associated paragraphs. The Combine view may be useful for teachers to saved as an archive of class work.