by Bethany Radcliff and Kylie Warkentin


Annotation, an important paratextual genre, has expanded past the typical text-based work in recent years to include things like web-pages and online resources. Further, the rising popularity of social annotation movements in educational practices (especially during the move to more interactive, virtual learning activities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic), means that understanding and using annotation is more relevant than ever. Audio annotation is particularly important when that audio material contains sensitive or traumatic content. This lesson serves as an introduction to annotation as a method for understanding sensitive audiovisual resources, structuring annotations in a machine-readable format, and uploading and presenting audio annotations using the AudiAnnotate application. While much of this lesson will focus on engaging with sensitive archival material in individual or group settings, it may also be read as a general introduction to annotating with AudiAnnotate. Throughout the lesson below, we have included suggestions for modifying this lesson for use in a classroom setting.

Teachers may be interested in our companion lesson plan for walking your students through an asynchronous lesson with a synchronous group activity option: Example Sensitive Audio Lesson: John Beecher, McComb “Criminal Syndicalism” Case.

Learning Objectives

In this lesson, you will learn how to create and present annotations using AudiAnnotate, focusing in particular on working with sensitive archival material. This lesson will guide you in thinking through and creating annotations , how to use software like Audacity or a simple excel sheet to structure those annotations for web upload on AudiAnnotate, and how to use AudiAnnotate to collect and present those annotations.


You will need to set up a GitHub account in order to use the AudiAnnotate application. You might prefer to download an open-source application such as Audacity to assist in generating annotations with time-stamps in the steps below, but, alternatively, you can also mark time-stamps manually on a spreadsheet. Our documentation walks you through creating a GitHub account, downloading Audacity, and creating a spreadsheet for use in AudiAnnotate.