Hypothesis in Canvas: Collaborative Annotation as Discussion Forum 2.0

By jeremydean | 4 April, 2017

Let’s be honest, discussion forums are a great idea—we all want students to engage more with their assigned readings and with their classmates. But “discussion” forums fail at precisely what they claim to do: cultivate quality conversation.

Collaborative annotation assignments are a better way to encourage students to engage more deeply with course content and with each other. For one, conversations that take place in the margins of readings are more organic, initiated by students themselves about what confuses or intrigues them most. In addition, these annotation discussions are directly connected to texts under study, helping to keep conversation grounded in textual evidence.

Using Hypothesis, instructors can make PDFs and web pages hosted in Canvas annotatable. Students can then annotate course readings collaboratively, sharing comments, and replying to each other’s comments. Instructors can also create annotation assignments using Hypothesis so that students submit their annotation “sets” for feedback and grading in Canvas.

You may have missed our live webinar on 4 April 2017, but you can watch the recording  and view the slides to learn more about the pedagogical value of collaborative annotation and be given a guided tour in setting up and using the Hypothesis tool in Canvas. Educators currently using the Hypothesis with Canvas in their classrooms also shared their experiences with annotation.


  • Dr. Jeremy Dean, Director of Education, Hypothesis
  • Chris Long, Education Technology Coordinator, Huntington Beach Union High School
  • Michelle Sprouse, Doctoral Student in English and Education, University of Michigan
  • Dr. Alan Reid, Assistant Professor, English, Coastal Carolina University

Webinar Links

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