Hypothesis FAQ

What is Hypothesis?

Hypothesis is an open source, social annotation tool that can be used anywhere on the web. Hypothesis allows you and your students to engage by annotating anything from your course syllabus to research papers. Social annotation (using a tool like Hypothesis) takes an old idea - commenting in the margins of a written work - and makes it a collaborative, social endeavor.  Students can highlight words, sentences, or passages and provide written comments in the margin of the text that other students can see and react to.  Faculty members can also view and participate in that online annotation and textual commentary.


How do I get access to Hypothesis?

To start annotating things on the web with your students, you have two options: 1) through your web browser or 2) through Moodle. There are a few key differences between these options, however. 


For annotating on the web: anyone can annotate content by using the web browser version for free, but students will need to create their own account and you will not have any grading interface to keep track of their annotations. This option would be useful if you wanted to do some form of collaborative annotation project/assignment with experts or another class outside of Bucknell, for instance.


For annotating within Moodle: Using Hypothesis within Moodle provides a few benefits that make the management of student annotations easier. To add a Hypothesis assignment to your Moodle course, you need to:

Step 1: Click Add an Activity or Resource in the appropriate section of your Moodle course.

Step 2: Choose External Tool from the list of options, and click Add

Step 3: Enter an Activity Name

Step 4: Choose Hypothesis from the Preconfigured Tool drop-down list

Step 5: Choose Grading options. To grade the work, choose the Point option. To make this an ungraded assignment, choose None. Enter a value for Maximum Grade.

Step 6: Click Save and Return to Course

Step 7: Return to the location in your Moodle course where you added the assignment. Click the assignment name. This is where you will add the reading material.

  • If the reading is a web page or a PDF on the web, choose Enter URL of web page or PDF, and enter the URL
  • If the reading is a PDF that you have saved to your Google Drive or your hard drive, click Select PDF from Google Drive, choose your Google account, and select a Google Drive file or use the Upload tab to upload from your hard drive


How do my students get access to Hypothesis?

If you are using Hypothesis through Moodle, your students simply need to click on the assignment you created and can begin annotating. If you are asking students to use Hypothesis outside of the LMS, they will need to create an account and then install the Chrome extension


If you choose the web option over Moodle, we recommend setting up a private group for your students.


Annotating with Groups

How to Create a Private Group

How to Invite Members to a Private Group

How to Join a Private Group

Moderation for Groups


Common Questions from Bucknell Faculty

Q: Is there a Moodle course where we can play with Hypothes.is?

A: Yes. You can visit the DP&S Sample Course titled Social annotation - Hypothes.is and Moodle. The URL for this course is https://moodle.bucknell.edu/course/view.php?id=39868


Q: Are there examples of class assignments using Hypothes.is?

A: Here are some examples that have been used by faculty at other institutions:



Q: Could this be used in a class where students comment on papers written by the members of the class - or does the source material have to be online?

A: Yes! You would need to save the student paper (a Word file or Google Doc) as a PDF and then upload it into a Hypothes.is assignment. You can grab PDFs from your Google Drive or upload them from your hard drive.


Q: What about scanned copies of a document? 

A: The PDF has to have a “text layer.” It won’t work if you scan a document as an image (as our scanners on campus do). 


You may also find that some PDFs--older articles in JSTOR, for example--do have a text layer that is loosely associated with words on the page. This type of article will work, though perhaps not optimally, as a Hypothes.is assignment. If you download such an article and then open it in Adobe Acrobat Professional, you can click on a "Scan and OCR" tool that allows for better recognition of text. This can make it easier to highlight text for annotation within Hypothes.is. (OCR = optical character recognition/reader)


Adobe Acrobat Professional is available to you through the Adobe Creative Cloud installation on your Bucknell computer.


Q: What are “tags” and why would we use them?

A: Tags in Hypothes.is are like tags in other kinds of documents (think WordPress!). They are used to categorize a post. You might want students to use tags for a variety of reasons, and you might want to provide students with the tag options up front, or allow them to create their own tags. Some examples of reasons you might use tags follow:

  • Categorize annotations by theme or annotation type (question; confusing point; surprising; new insight; etc.)
  • Indicate that annotation is a response to a specific question (Question1; Question2) 
  • Indicate which group the student is part of (Group1, Group2)


What additional resources are there for faculty members interested in using Hypothesis?

Annotation Basics (If you are new to Hypothesis, start here!)

Grading Student Annotations in Moodle

Adding Links, Images, and Videos to Your Annotations

Introduction to the Hypothesis LMS App for Students

Annotation Etiquette for Students

An Illustrated Guide to Annotation Types


Want to meet with a Hypothesis expert?

Schedule a meeting with Eryn Barker, Hypothesis Customer Success Specialist



Article ID: 493
Wed 1/20/21 4:40 PM
Thu 1/28/21 2:49 PM