Using the Annotate Function on Zoom to Monitor Learner Understanding

Challenge –Monitoring learner understanding and basic literacy at the lowest levels is hard to do online. Whereas in the classroom a teacher can check individuals’ written work in the course of the lesson, online it is unclear to the teacher what exactly the learner is writing down or how much they have understood. The solution presented is to enable the learners to indicate their chosen answer in real time via the ‘annotate’ function on Zoom.

Example of PowerPoint slide that has been annotated by learners

Activity Outline

In this example the teacher wanted to check the learners’ understanding of numbers with a listening exercise. The learners listened to a number and had to circle the corresponding number on screen.



1 – Introduce the activity by first reminding learners of the Annotate function. The teacher showsed a set of PPT slides (with L1 translations) with step-by-step instructions on how to draw on the screen (see below).

2 – Check that all learners can do this by encouraging them to make marks on the current screen. Allow other learners to explain the process to their peers if necessary.

3 – Explain the task to the learners. Display the numbers and prepare them to listen to the different people speaking. Teacher models by saying a number and circling it on their screen. Stop after each playing and wait for learners to draw on the screen.

4 – Teacher monitors the responses of the learners, noting names as they appear (they do appear momentarily, but then disappear again).

5 – Learners can self-correct if they see that they have got the question wrong, but it’s possible for the teacher to see this process too in real time.

See the file below for an example of how this method was used in an online class.

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