Success Story 

San Jose State University


Dr. Luis Poza

Associate Professor, Teacher of Education

“I’m invariably surprised every semester by one or two students who are really quiet, hesitant and holding back in class who then, in the annotations, just really come out of their shell.” 

How do you introduce Hypothesis social annotation in your courses?

I have a printed copy of the syllabus for them on the first day, but I also have a version of the syllabus in Hypothesis. We dedicate class time to annotating the syllabus so they can ask questions about the syllabus and practice using the tool.

Did anything surprise you about you and your students’ use of Hypothesis?

I see a pretty broad range in terms of the comments. Some people make a lot of text to self connections like, “Oh, this [teaching practice] reminds me of a teacher I had” or “I wish my schooling had been like this.” And then there are folks who use their annotations to start making connections to readings. There’s folks who are asking questions like,”What does this word mean?” And then there’s folks talking back to the theory and saying “I’m not sure if I really see the world this way. I don’t know that this author is properly accounting for some of the different pressures that teachers are under, maybe there’s more constraining teacher agency.” Based on that range, my impression is that our teacher candidates feel a sense of freedom over what goes in the annotations

What advice would you give another instructor beginning to use social annotation in their teaching?

Initially I thought this was going to be this nice magic thing that I roll out, and the students all start talking to each other. It really surprised me that I have to get in there, too, to push the conversation. I really have to build that culture, that learning is happening in the annotations. This isn’t just a threaded discussion where they post their thing, post their one response to a peer’s thing, and then walk away from it. To really get something from this tool you have to treat it like a conversation, and take time to build the culture of valuing annotation as a learning opportunity and learning activity.

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