Annotating with Sections in Canvas

Annotating with Sections in Canvas2020-08-24T09:56:08-07:00
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Note: this article applies to installations of our Canvas app that include Canvas Developer Credentials and are installed after 25 May 2020. If you have previously installed the Hypothesis LMS app for your Canvas instance, see our help article: Enabling the Sections for Canvas Feature (For Pre-existing Hypothesis LMS App Installations)

Until recently, the Hypothesis LMS app would create one group per Canvas Course. Now, for all new installations, the app will create a group for each Section in a Course.

What are Sections?

In Canvas, Sections are groups of students within a Course that have been organized for administrative purposes, usually by a Student Information System (SIS). When users are enrolled in a Course, they are actually enrolled in one of the Sections of that Course, as every Canvas Course has at least one Section.

In general, Courses that have more than one Section are either large lecture-style classes, or are taught multiple times in one semester by one instructor. Classes with fewer students and only one offering per instructor tend to have one Section that contains all students in the Course. For more information, see this Canvas help article: What is the hierarchical structure for Canvas accounts?

How will groups for Sections change the way I use the Hypothesis LMS app?

In order to make the annotation experience better for Courses that contain multiple Sections and/or many students, we’ve made changes to our app such that a Hypothesis group will be created for each Section in a Course, rather than one group for the whole Course. Instructors, TAs, and Admins will have access to all Sections and students will only have access to the Section(s) they belong to.

To understand how this will work, let’s consider some examples:

Large-enrollment courses with multiple Sections

Psychology 101 is a lecture-style course with 100 students that has a recitation component where students meet in groups of 20 with a TA. This course has 5 Sections, each with 20 students, grouped according to their recitation. All 100 students meet with Professor A twice per week. Professor A uses one Canvas Course to manage all 5 Sections of the Course.

Previously, when Professor A would create a Hypothesis-enabled assignment in the Course, all 100 students would annotate together. This could quickly become overwhelming, especially if all students were required to annotate.

Now, when Professor A creates a Hypothesis-enabled assignment, students will annotate with their Section only. Professor A can see and participate in conversations in all 5 Sections separately, whereas each student can only see and create annotations in their own Section:

a side-by-side view of the teacher and student views for Section groups. Teachers navigate between sections using a drop-down menu at the top of the Hypothesis sidebar; students have only the section in which they are enrolled available to them (so no drop-down menu is present)

Small-enrollment courses taught by one instructor to multiple groups of students

Professor B teaches a seminar-style Writing 404 course that meets with 1 set of 10 students on Mondays and Wednesdays at 2pm and meets with another set of 12 students on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2pm. This Course has 2 Sections: one for the Monday-Wednesday students and one for the Tuesday-Thursday students.

Previously, when Professor B would create a Hypothesis enabled assignment in the Course, the Monday-Wednesday students and Tuesday-Thursday students would annotate together. This could get confusing, especially when the same reading would have different due dates to match the Section meeting schedules.

Now, when Professor B creates a Hypothesis-enabled assignment, the Monday-Wednesday students will annotate with each other, as will the Tuesday-Thursday students. Professor B can see and participate in conversations with both groups of students separately, whereas each student can only see and create annotations in their own Section:

a side-by-side view of the teacher and instructor view of the new Sections feature. The teacher can use a drop-down menu at the top of the Hypothesis sidebar to navigate between Section groups; the Student only sees the one group they belong to and no drop-down menu is present

Small-enrollment courses taught by one instructor to one set of students

Professor C teaches a seminar-style Writing 404 course made up of 10 students who meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9am. This is the only offering of this course that Professor C teaches. This course has just 1 Section for all 10 students.

With this new feature, there will be no difference in the way Professor C annotates with her students. Since there is only one Section in the Course, all students will annotate together:

in a course with only one Section, teachers and students see only that Section (no drop-down menu is present, since there is only one group in the Course)

Other courses

If you’re unsure how our Sections feature will work in your Course, contact us and a Success specialist will discuss the specifics of your Course with you.

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