Skip to Main Content

Hypothesis for Collaborative Web Annotation: For Faculty

Now Integrated witih Canvas

Hypothesis 15-minute demo

Hypothesis is very simple to set up and use.  For a 15-minute demonstration of what it looks like to use Hypothesis, contact Paul McMillin at

For Faculty

Tech Details:  What faculty need to know

Hypothesis is now automatically available in all program and course Canvas sites.

Creating an Assignment or Module:

  1. There are two ways to set up texts for annotation with Hypothesis:  By URL (using existing web pages), or by PDF.
  2. These page from Hypothesis describes your next steps.
    1. Using the Hypothesis LMS App with Assignments in Canvas
    2. Using the Hypothesis LMS App with Modules in Canvas
    3. TIP:  If you create you Hypothesis assignment via Modules, you will not be able to use Speed Grader with your annotation assignments!  (However, if you use Modules and not Annotations in your Canvas interface, you can create your Hypothesis assignment as an Assignment, and then create a Module that links to that Assignment . . . it will look like a Module to you and your students, but behind the scenes it will be an Assignment, and you'll be able to use Speed Grader).
    4. TIP:  When creating an assignment or module, turn on the checkbox labelled "Load in a new tab".  Otherwise, your Hypothesis window will be smaller than it should be.
  3. Also, this video shows the same next steps:  (the video is from elsewhere, but all applicable to Evergreen):
    1. You can work with 2 types of documents:  Web pages (via url) and PDFs
      1. Web Pages
        1. Keep in mind that paywalls could interfere with students' ability to access the page.
          1. Some sites allow each user to view a few articles -- so sometimes a news article will load fine at first, but not subsequently..
          2. Other sites have particularly tough paywalls, like the Wall Street Journal.
          3. Remember that the library has online subscriptions to many newspapers -- if you run into paywall problems on the .com site, the library may have a copy that can be annotated (Wall Street Journal, Olympian, Seattle Times . . . ) 
          4. Library ebooks can be read on the Web, but most will not load as web pages in Hypothesis.    You can make PDFs from most of our ebooks, however.
      2. PDFs
        1. Make sure that your PDF has gone through Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and test it before going live.  Not all PDFs are created equal.  This is true for PDFs from library ebooks as well, although the vast majority will work fine.  Rescanning can sometimes help.
        2. Ebooks available through the library have various kinds of restrictions on use.  Many restrict the number of pages one person can download to PDF at one time, but these limits usually reset (either after 24 hours, or the next time you login to the ebook platform).
        3. Recommendation:  if you are making your own PDF, load a test page to see how it works with Hypothesis before scanning the entire document.
        4. I am willing to work with you to get PDFs that work well for annotation. In some cases, this might involve the library buying a new ebook version with a better license. 
        5.  It is best to get your texts ready for annotation and tested at least one week ahead of time.  Contact me if in doubt about how to get what you want into PDF form.

Evaluation of Student Work

There are two ways to make evaluation of student annotations more efficient.

  1. Most faculty will probably want to use the Canvas feature Speed Grader when evaluating student annotations.  If you created your annotation assignment via Assignments then Speed Grader in Canvas can be used to see, one by one, the annotations of each student individually. If you created your assignment via Modules, you cannot use Speed Grader to evaluate annotations.  (If you organize content by Modules rather than Assignments, you can create your Hypothesis assignment as an Assignment, and then create a Module that links to the Assignment).
  2. If you cannot or choose not to use Speed Grader, within Hypothesis, you can search with the user tag to see only the annotations of one student. For example, user:Paul McMillin.
  3. See the box below for information on Notebook, which allows you to see all annotations across your program/course (not just by assignment), and to filter by student.
  4. A welcome update from Hypothesis on May 11, 2022:
    1. "Instructors using Canvas will now get fewer noisy submission notifications and more accurate submission dates from Hypothesis Assignments. Rather than submitting every time a student opens the assignment, Hypothesis will now only send in a submission if the student actually adds or edits an annotation. When a submission is sent, it will have a submission date that matches the time students completed their latest activity. Thanks to all the instructors who provided us with feedback."

Spring 2021: New Feature to help with Evaluations: Hypothesis Notebook

As of spring 2021, Hypothesis has a new feature that allows faculty and students to see all annotations made in a program or section, across all assignments (can filter by student as well).  Should be useful when doing evaluations.  This is a beta feature that is still being developed, but the basic mechanism works and is part of our installation and can be used now.  To use Notebook, you first have to be in a Hypothesis assignment on your Canvas site.  Then click on the icon that looks vaguely like a person (this is your own account icon), and from the dropdown choose "Open Notebook".  By default, you will see all the annotations and replies made in your program.  You can filter by student, though, which is likely to be the most useful thing while doing evaluations.

The Fine Print:

I.  If you are using "groups", you will have to choose the  section/group that you want to review before opening Notebook.

2.  Titles of PDFs are not showing up in most cases.  This is a glitch that will be fixed in the final release of Notebook, but for now, you may not be able to tell which document/assignment you are looking at unless you recognize the annotated text.

3.  Currently as you browse all the annotations in Notebook you cannot click on an annotation in order to go to the assignment itself -- once you are in Notebook, you stay in Notebook until you close it.  The ability to link out to the annotation in the context of the assignment in which it was made is a feature they plan to include later.

Daniel J. Evans Library - MS: LIB2300 - 2700 Evergreen Parkway, NE. Olympia, WA 98501 - 360-867-6250