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The new Highlighter Groups service allows students to share in participate in conversations online before class.

As students head back to college campuses this fall, here’s a new technology from a Seattle startup which might change the rules on those well-known slackers who’ve been known to skip homework and reading assignments.

Highlighter’s latest offering, dubbed Groups, is a free online tool that allows professors to form private online groups where students, lecturers and professors all can share comments from very specific passages in reading materials.

Educators not only can keep tabs on which portions of the reading material are generating discussion, but also who is contributing.

“Since I implemented Highlighter Groups into my curriculum, students are coming to class knowing more than they knew before,” said Michael Klymkowsky, a Professor of Biofundamentals at the University of Colorado who is featured in a promotional video about the new Highlighter service.

A TechStars Seattle grad, Highlighter is led by CEO Josh Mullineaux and raised $300,000 in angel financing earlier this year.

Mullineaux tells GeekWire that the Groups functionality will help increase engagement, saying that the service is profound “because professors can now see that students are coming to class having read the material and engaged with the content.”

Here’s a closer look at the service in action with professor Klymkowsky explaining how he utilizes it in his classroom.

Highlighter Groups from Highlighter on Vimeo.

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