Undergrad Shannon Griffiths on Using Hypothesis in the Classroom

By jeremydean | 30 November, 2015

This blog was written and published by Shannon Griffiths, an English major at Plymouth State University. Her professor, Robin DeRosa, is using Hypothesis in several of her classes this term. Check out her Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature, hosted on PressBooks and annotated using Hypothesis by her undergraduates.

DeRosa's students annotating Christopher Columbus's narrative
DeRosa’s students annotating Christopher Columbus’s narrative

Hi everybody! Today I just wanted to quickly review an awesome tool called Hypothesis that I’ve been using all semester for two of my English classes (Currents in American Lit and Critical Theory).

As an extension of your web browser (I use Chrome…does anyone not use Chrome?), Hypothesis lets individuals highlight and annotate any online text of their choosing. By allowing (encouraging it, I daresay) people to comment on texts, a sort of community is born and its truly neat to be involved in.

The two classes I am in this semester are among the first classes to use Hypothesis in the classroom, and it has been exciting to test this tool, find bugs or problems, and watch the tool itself grow and improve. Though, that is to say that for the most part Hypothesis has proved to be quite user friendly and well programmed.

Personally, I struggle with reading online. I’m a “hold the book in my hand” kind of gal. When I say “reading online”, I mean reading a text and actually comprehending it. Anyone can read online, but to get something out of a text that is not physically in front of you can be a challenge. However, I think Hypothesis has helped me to improve my competency and critical thinking skills.

I like to think of Hypothesis as a literary Facebook, if you will, as my classmates and I not only comment our own thoughts but also reply to each others. Far too often when I am reading a challenging text for class I can’t stop dwelling on these questions: “Does anyone actually understand this? Am I crazy for thinking this means ___?” This brilliant tool lets me know that I’m not alone in feeling this way when I can see my classmates commenting in a similar fashion. It’s quite comforting. Being able to reply to classmate’s comments (with a range of media, no less…gifs anybody?) makes for some pretty entertaining online banter as well. I’ve laughed hysterically too many times to count whilst reading my classmate’s comments (especially when we read Freud…man, that was a comedic goldmine) and I must say it increases the enjoyment I get out of doing my homework. And that’s saying something.

At this point in the game, it is safe to say that technology has gradually wiggled its way into the sphere of education and changed it for the better. People were skeptical at first to shy away from traditional modes of teaching and learning, but technology in the classroom has not taken away from the process of teaching, rather enriched it profusely. Tools like Hypothesis contribute positively to the experience of learning, as they promote discussion and help build a community that functions as a collective pool of knowledge and possibility. I like to think I’m apart of that pool now!

Tools like Hypothesis are the future of education.

And I can’t wait to see what else the future holds for students and teachers alike.


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