Open review platform

Awardees: Erik Bauch (FAS), Georg Kucsko (FAS)

Summary: Awardees will, within several physics courses, test, assess, and refine a promising education tool that facilitates student and faculty collaborative annotation of scholarly materials.

Open Rev. is an online, open source PDF annotation tool that allows users to annotate research publications and related materials. Features include the ability to comment on text, formulas, and images; to upload images, or draw sketches; to rate and reply to others’ contributions; and to create group pages for discussion.

The platform was used in various physics classrooms beginning in 2014 as a tool for scientific collaboration. Instructors could track their students’ progress through the online discussions and expressed that classroom engagement and student class preparation increased.

Bauch and Kucsko faced time-related challenges in the promotion and further programming development of Open Rev., mostly due to their competing priorities as doctoral students. They shared the tool with the physics departments of many local institutions, but did not have the bandwidth to do additional follow up or recruitment. It also took three tries to find the right programmer to bring their feature ideas to life, largely due to the time it takes to clearly communicate desired functionality.