Hypothesis Social Annotation Tool

What is Hypothesis?

Hypothesis is a social annotation tool that is fully integrated with Canvas. Using Hypothesis, instructors can make PDFs and websites annotatable. Students can annotate course readings collaboratively, sharing comments and replying to peer’s comments. Instructors can also create annotation assignments. Through Hypothesis-enabled assignments, students submit their annotations for feedback and grading in Canvas. This short video demonstrates how to use Hypothesis in Canvas.


Successful strategies for using Hypothesis include:

  • Having students ask each other questions, share ideas, and collaborate around their learning.
  • Inviting students to annotate the syllabus.
  • Making readings annotation-enabled to create an optional space for students to connect with each other.
  • Guiding students through the reading with instructor annotations.
  • Using Hypothesis for seminar-style discussion online.
  • Recommending that students annotate the lecture notes.


The Hypothesis Pilot at UWM

During the Fall 2020 semester, Hypothesis was piloted at UWM. As a result of the positive feedback, Hypothesis has been purchased for use during the Spring 2021 semester through the Educational Technology Fund.

During the pilot, approximately 500 students in 30 courses used Hypothes.is for annotations, threaded messages, and page notes. Feedback from both students and instructors was overwhelmingly positive with 95% of student saying Hypothesis was useful and 75% saying they would be disappointed if they were unable to use Hypothesis in other courses. All pilot instructors found Hypothesis useful and would recommend Hypothesis to other teachers. This brief presentation that provides data and stories from UWM instructor and students.

Using Hypothesis in a Spring 2021 course

Hypothesis has been enabled for use in all UWM credit-bearing (SIS) courses. There are two ways to use Hypothesis, graded and ungraded. You can create a Hypothesis-enabled Assignment in Canvas. Instructors can evaluate and grade these Assignments using the SpeedGrader and student grades would automatically flow into the Canvas Gradebook.

Receiving training to use Hypothesis

Instructors can register for the “Social Annotation using Hypothesis” workshop through the CETL workshop site.

Topics addressed in this workshop include:

  • Exploring successful strategies for using Hypothesis as a social annotation tool
  • Creating a Hypothesis-enabled assignment
  • Ensuring PDF materials contain digital text (optical character recognized)
  • Orienting my students to Hypothesis
  • Using groups with Hypothesis
  • Connecting a rubric to a Hypothesis-enabled assignment
  • Grading student annotations
  • Getting help with Hypothesis for me and my students

In addition, you are welcome to contact CETL for support setting up and using Hypothesis in your course. UWM’s Hypothesis support engineer is also available by email.

More information on Hypothesis

Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the Hypothesis Social Annotation Tool can be found in this article.