Getting started with Hypothesis in Canvas
Welcome to your one-stop resource for integrating Hypothesis within your Canvas LMS!
Here, we’ve curated everything you need to get started with Hypothesis in Canvas: from step-by-step guides and assignments to best practices and resources. Dive in and unlock a world of interactive learning, enhancing comprehension and sparking vibrant discussions through the power of social annotation.
What is Hypothesis?
Hypothesis adds a sidebar to the right of the reading you’ve assigned. Students can select the text they’d like to annotate, compose their thoughts, and share their annotation with the class. The annotations from all of the students in your course (or smaller groups, depending on how you set up your assignment) will appear in the sidebar. The order of the annotations will correspond to the portion of the text each student is annotating, making it easy to connect the annotation directly to the text being discussed. Students can reply to one another’s annotations and start (or continue) a conversation about the text as they are reading the text.
What kind of document can I use for my students to annotate?
If you’re teaching for one of our partner institutions, you can use Hypothesis right in your LMS! This makes it much easier for you and your students to annotate together. To get started, you’ll need a document to annotate. You can use:
- A URL of a PDF or public website
- A “public website” in this context means it is not behind a paywall
- Even though the website is public, your course’s annotations will still be private
- If a website does have a paywall (such as a New York Times article), you can always save it as a PDF
- A PDF document
- A YouTube video (as long as it has transcripts)
- Depending on your institution: a JSTOR article or VitalSource etext (please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in one of these options to see if it is available)
A note about PDFs
Not all PDFs are created equally! In order to annotate a document, Hypothesis needs to recognize that the PDF contains text (which makes the text selectable). When PDFs are created from scanned images of text, Hypothesis usually sees the text as one large image; individual words and phrases are not selectable.
When a document does not have a selectable text layer, it needs to go through a process called Optical Character Recognition (OCR). A PDF must have OCR in order to be used with Hypothesis.
How can you tell if a document has a selectable text layer?
If you can easily select a line of text and then copy and paste it elsewhere, and the pasted text is properly formatted, your PDF has a text layer and you can start annotating.
Your document does not have a selectable text layer if:
- You are unable to select any text
- You can select text, but it is difficult to get only the text you want
- You can select text, but it is “garbled” or poorly formatted once you copy and paste it elsewhere
- Someone who uses screen reader technology has indicated that PDF is difficult to read
What do I do if my document doesn’t have a selectable text layer?
Visit our guide on using OCR to find out how you can quickly and easily add a selectable text layer to your PDFs that do not have one.
Ok, I have the document I want students to annotate. How do I set up a Hypothesis-enabled reading in Canvas?
In Canvas, the setup process is different if you’d like to use Hypothesis as a graded assignment versus an ungraded assignment. In this case, select the instructions that best fit your needs.
You’ll use the Assignments tool in Canvas to create graded assignments. Note that this also gives you access to using Speedgrader and assigning due dates for annotation assignments. To create ungraded assignments, you can create a Module Item or you can create an Assignment with a 0 point value.
Use the links to see written instructions with screenshots, or review the video instructions for creating a graded assignment below.
- Creating a Hypothesis-enabled reading in Canvas Assignments
- Creating a Hypothesis-enabled reading in Canvas Modules
What if I don’t want students to annotate together as a whole class, but I want them to annotate in smaller groups?
You can use Canvas groups for that! This is especially ideal if you are teaching a very large class, or if you are annotating a short document, or if you’d just like students to work in smaller groups together.
You should go to the People tab in Canvas and set up your Group Set/groups for your annotation assignment before you go to create the Hypothesis-enabled reading.
Written instructions: Using Canvas Groups to create Hypothesis reading groups
What if I want to grade with a rubric in Canvas?
You can do that! The key here is that you need to create an “On paper” assignment in Canvas (which will later serve as your Hypothesis-enabled reading), then add the rubric, and finally change your assignment to an External Tool enabled with Hypothesis. You can find full instructions on how to set up an assignment using Hypothesis and a rubric in Canvas here.
What instructions should I provide my students to prompt substantive and meaningful annotations?
First, you’ll want to make sure students know how to add annotations using Hypothesis. You can share the following instructions with them:
- How to: annotation basics
- How to add images and links to annotations
- How to embed videos in annotations
Then, you can review ideas for instructions to use with your students to help prompt them appropriately. You can find our annotation starter assignments here, which provide broad and basic instructions that you can easily copy and paste into your course or adapt as needed, or you can explore the assignments that other educators have submitted to our resource repository here.
How can I grade annotation assignments?
First, you’ll want to decide how you’d like to assess your students’ annotations. Some instructors prefer to grade students on a pass/fail or complete/incomplete basis, while others use rubrics to grade annotations. This might depend on circumstances like whether you’d like to use their annotations as part of their participation grade, or a larger assessment instead.
You can review some examples of rubrics you can use in your own course here:
Once you’ve decided on the approach you’ll use to grade your students, you can review how to assign grades in your LMS below.
How to assign annotation grades in Canvas:
Here you can find assignments developed by our faculty users from all disciplines. Explore these assignments and easily incorporate them into your curriculum.
Discover the transformative power of Hypothesis social annotation through our curated success stories. Educators and administrators have harnessed this tool to revolutionize classroom discussions, deepen understanding, and foster meaningful collaborations. Immerse yourself in these stories of innovation and witness firsthand the profound impact of active reading and communal knowledge-building.
- University of Colorado – Boulder: Leysia Palen, Distinguished Professor, Information Science and Computer Science
- Muskegon Community College: Jason Shaughnessy, Faculty, Department Chair, Health, Physical Education and Recreation
- Bookshelf ® by VitalSource with the University of Texas – Austin and the University of Minnesota
YouTube Video Annotations
Dive into a new dimension of video analysis with Hypothesis for YouTube video annotations. Enhance your viewing and learning experience by actively engaging with content, annotating insights, questions, and comments directly onto video transcripts. It’s not just about watching anymore—it’s about collaborative discovery and deepening understanding frame by frame.
Read this article and learn how.
Helpful Blog Posts
Navigate the world of social annotation with our collection of insightful Hypothesis blog posts. From best practices to innovative use cases, these articles offer a deep dive into maximizing the potential of Hypothesis in your learning journey.
- To grade or not to grade: A case for prioritizing feedback
- 5 ways to use social annotation with and against ChatGPT
- 4 ways to use social annotation with JSTOR and scholarly articles
- Our NPS score tells all: Faculty LOVE using Hypothesis
Annotation Starter Assignments for AI
Immerse your students in a journey where they fact-check, critique, and enhance ChatGPT’s outputs. From verifying information to refining writing, these annotation assignments foster critical thinking and creativity. Explore the annotation AI assignments below!
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