Last week I got a message from Stephanie Ray and she asked me to take a look and review Nota, a free mobile collaborative learning platform which is available in a web format and as a mobile app. As she mentioned that it was linked to Open Educational Resources (OER) of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) textbooks, I got intrigued. They only launched in January 2013 so still beta, which is the nicest state as all of our remarks on the tool are as such welcomed.
After playing around a bit with Nota, it sure seems a nice tool. It offers textbook access with immediate (= internet enabled) links to movies, pictures, annotations... As it does offer very easy annotation options (just click a button), and most of all everything gets fed right into the cloud again. Another nice feature is the fact that Nota keeps a timeline of your actions (really useful if you know you visited something, but not sure where it was located in a particular book). Because annotations are easy to make, you can also link to personal content that is relevant to the topic you are researching (or teaching or learning for that matter) and build upon the original content provided. Really nice and it works smoothly, if you have a strong internet connection. So anyone can easily add comments, bookmarks, put in links to other content like video's, statistics, pictures.... which then can be commented on, liked, shared... all over again.
At present Nota is focusing on the free STEM catalog of high school and college textbooks, as such Nota is targeting students who can support each other in a peer-to-peer learning environment, without the high cost of textbooks or tutoring. But I can see how this type of technology has the potential to go beyond its original start. A community of practitioners could use the tool to start up their own text and multimedia rich training/learning HUB. Exchanging information and adding to it as they read on. Of course everything is in the open, so everyone could have access.
At the moment the tool is only accessible for Android version 4.0 or higher, or via the web. But they do mention that the Apple versions (cross mobile) will be out soon as well.
The app and web version are still in beta, so everyone is kindly invited to test the application and feed any comments that they have back to the developer team, feel free to look at the bunch of brains behind nota or send your feedback about the app/web tool to email@example.com
What would I like to see as an addition: a voice annotation option. Add the audio sensor/microphone from my mobile as a voice-to-speech bit to the options and it will make life easier for me, because I do not like to type much with my smartphone keyboard. Overall a nice addition for mLearning.
A quick look on how it works can be seen here