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Using the Hypothesis VitalSource Reader in the Hypothesis LMS app (Instructor Guide)

The Hypothesis VitalSource Reader allows instructors at participating schools to create Hypothesis assignments in their LMS using documents from VitalSource’s extensive collection of texts and ebooks.

Who is this guide for?

  • This guide is for instructors using the Hypothesis LMS app who want to create assignments from VitalSource hosted texts
  • For the student version of this guide, click here

Identify whether your school uses the VitalSource LMS tool

Different schools may have different types of partnerships with VitalSource, but for the purpose of this guide we are primarily concerned with whether you use the VitalSource LMS tool to access and manage your VitalSource course books.

The VitalSource LMS tool provides access to your VitalsSource bookshelf directly from your LMS, and may be named differently depending on how it has been set up; VitalSource Course Materials or simply Course Materials are most commonly used as the name of the tool.

If your school does not have an LMS integration with VitalSource, then you and your students should already be familiar with logging on to VitalSource separately from the LMS to manage the books used in your courses.

Our instructions for creating and using Hypothesis VitalSource readings will occasionally differ depending on whether the VitalSource LMS tool is being used at your school.

If you have any questions or are unsure which type of VitalSource integration your school is using, please check with your bookstore or academic technology team, or reach out to us at Hypothesis.

Setting up the VitalSource LMS tool for use with Hypothesis

Before creating your Hypothesis VitalSource reading assignment you will need to do the following:

  1. Open the VitalSource LMS tool
  2. The book(s) you will be using should already have been assigned to your course and visible in the VitalSource portal
  3. Launch each book from the portal once. By launching the book you will associate the book license to your account, making it possible to use in a Hypothesis reading assignment.
  4. If you begin to get errors when attempting to launch Hypothesis after your school’s add/drop period, you may need to return to step 3 and launch the book from within VitalSource again.

Creating a Hypothesis VitalSource assignment

1. Find the VitalSource Bookshelf URL of the text you will be assigning

The simplest way to locate the URL of the book is from your VitalSource Library page.

  1. Open your VitalSource bookshelf by either:
    1. [If your school uses the VitalSource LMS tool] Opening the VitalSource LMS tool and clicking Launch Bookshelf from the Instructor Portal, or
    2. [If your school does not use the VitalSource LMS tool] In another browser tab, log on to VitalSource Bookshelf
  2. Navigate to your Library page
  3. Find the book you will be assigning and click the View details button for that text
  4. On the Details sidebar, locate and copy the URL for the text. You will use this URL later when you create the Hypothesis assignment in your LMS.

Location of VitalSource text details button and URL

2. Create Hypothesis assignment in the LMS

Follow the instructions for creating a Hypothesis-enabled reading in your respective LMS.

When you are at the step where you choose a source for the Hypothesis assignment, click Select book from VitalSource.

Location of Select Book From VitalSource button

You will be prompted to paste the VitalSource text URL you located in step 1 above. After entering the URL, hit Enter. Hypothesis will indicate that it can access the text by showing the book title and a thumbnail of the cover.

Location to enter the VitalSource URL

Click the Select book button.

Next, you will be asked to choose the location you want your students to begin reading from. This will be the page of the text that the Hypothesis assignment will open to when the assignment is loaded.

Select the chapter to be assigned

With the starting point selected, click the Select button.

You may now finish creating, configuring, and publishing the assignment in your LMS as usual.

Logging on, annotating, and grading a VitalSource assignment

Logging on to VitalSource Bookshelf

Before opening the VitalSource assignment, students will need to do the following:

  1. Purchase, accept, or add to their Bookshelf Library, the book or text you are using for the assignment
  2. [If your school uses the VitalSource LMS tool] Open the VitalSource LMS app and launched the assigned book once
  3. [If your school does not use the VitalSource LMS tool] Create, or already know, their VitalSource Bookshelf account. Each time the assignment is opened, either by a student or yourself, the user will be prompted to log on to VitalSource Bookshelf with their account.

Annotating the Hypothesis assignment

As described above, when a student first loads the Hypothesis VitalSource assignment, it will open to the location you chose when creating the assignment. It is important to note, however, that this starting page is simply a convenience to orientate your students to the appropriate point to begin reading from. Student may still navigate to any page in the entire text.

Students can select and annotate the text, and reply to other student’s annotations as usual.

Hypothesis VitalSource assignment open


Best practices to pass on to students when using VitalSource texts in Hypothesis

Make students aware that they’ll need to launch the text in VitalSource in order to claim their VitalSource license, and then they can launch the text in Hypothesis. They don’t need to do this every time, they just need to get the VitalSource license that’s assigned to them by going into VitalSource proper.

In some institutions, students need to re-license the text after the add/drop period ends. In these schools students will need to launch the text from within VitalSource again. Once they launch the text after the add/drop the license they have for that text should last the rest of the semester.

To simplify this for students, add links directly to the VitalSource text in the assignment description, telling students they need to launch that link once, close it after the text has loaded, and then launch the Hypothesis assignment.

In schools where you launch texts via the VitalSource web page, as opposed to the VitalSource LMS app, you should also make students aware that they’ll need to accept cookies from VitalSource when prompted. It’s easy to reflexively block all cookies, but blocking the VitalSource cookies may result in the site not being able to verify the student has permission to access the text.


A screenshot of a Hypothesis-enabled reading in Moodle that links to a VitalSource text. The assignment descriptions reads: To make sure the Hypothesis app can load the VitalSource texts, please first launch the VitalSource text via the link below and <bold>make sure to accept cookies</bold>. Brown v. Board of Education - https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/books/L-999-72540.

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