Screenshot showing choosing a Hypothesis-enabled reading using groups capabilities in the Canvas LMS.

When class sizes are large they’re often subdivided into sections or groups to make discussion and other kinds of interaction more manageable and useful for learners. Even with smaller courses, there are pedagogical reasons to divide learners into smaller working groups for activities like social annotation. For example, sometimes on shorter documents or poems, smaller groups can help ensure that annotation activity doesn’t crowd a document. In other cases, learners are working on group projects, annotating different documents that don’t necessarily need the attention of the full class. Educators we talk to are often exploring different practices to connect groups of students with annotation assignments, leading to one of our most frequent feature requests: More flexibility in making group annotation assignments.

Any widely-used learning management system (LMS) supports some kind of group and/or sectioning capabilities. Rather than building a separate system to address the same needs, our goal has been to work toward making sure Hypothesis is aware of and supports different LMS grouping/sectioning models. In 2020, we announced support for sections in Canvas. Today we are announcing that we’ve finished the custom work to roll out support for LMS groups — again starting with Canvas.

The Canvas Groups feature enables instructors to divide students in their courses into multiple groups, big and small. Instructors will be able to use those same Canvas Group Sets they create in their courses to group students almost any way they want. The Hypothesis LMS app can now mirror Canvas Groups, enabling students to annotate in reading groups of any size, knowing that their annotations are private to their group and course instructors.

This groups feature will be available in Canvas on 1 August 2021, but requires Hypothesis installation with a Canvas Developer Key that is either unscoped, or has scopes updated to support groups functionality. If you’re not sure how Hypothesis is installed in Canvas at your institution, connect with our team and we’ll help you figure it out.

After Canvas, we’ll be rolling out support for other LMSs, starting most likely with Blackboard, and then adding others based on the needs of our partners. We’d love to hear about your annotation practices that use groups! Annotate this post to share your experience with others.


Start using Hypothesis in your LMS and learn more about a supported pilot at your school.

About Hypothesis

Hypothesis is a mission-driven organization dedicated to the development and spread of open, standards-based annotation technologies and practices that enable anyone to annotate anywhere on the web. Our mission is to help people reason more effectively together through a shared, collaborative discussion layer over all knowledge. Hypothesis is based in San Francisco, CA, USA, with a worldwide team.

Hypothesis develops its open-source annotation software in collaboration with many contributors. We thank our funderspartners, and entire community for working with us to advance standards-based, interoperable annotation for all.


Media: Nate Angell, Director of Marketing
Twitter: @hypothes_is