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Online research and discussion using Hypothes.is groups

Hypothesis is a free, open source annotation tool that can be used to build a peer review layer for the Internet.

In your classroom, you could imagine individual students annotating and marking up a text or website as they read. Each student would mark up their copy of the text, and then possibly meet as a group later to discuss the activity. Imagine the possibilities if you could have the class read and annotate together in the same document. Discussions about the text could happen in the text.

Hypothesis will allow you to openly annotate and highlight documents online. To learn how to make this happen, review my tutorial here. This gives you the opportunity to mark up documents and share the links with others, or organize discussion around hashtags. The challenge is that Hypothesis annotations can only be set to Public or Private (‘Only me”).

Hypothesis Groups

In some of my classes, I prefer to have students read, write, and annotate in a closed group for discussions. Hypothesis Groups are private groups that you can control to allow learners to safely engage online while receiving constructive feedback.

Creating a group is very easy, the challenge often is in making sure your annotations are saved to the group.

Create a Hypothesis Group

Creating a private group on Hypothesis is an easy process. Make sure you have the Chrome extension installed and you’re signed in.

The tutorial from Hypothesis provides a slide deck walking you through the process. Alternatively, you can watch the video they provide as well.

Invite new members to your group by sharing the link to join provided in the settings for the group. New members will be added as soon as they click on the link for the group…as long as they’re signed in to Hypothesis. :)

Annotating in a Hypothesis Group

To save your annotations to a Hypothesis Group, first sign in to your Hypothesis account (register here). You’ll also need to have the Chrome extension installed and activated.

You’ll then need to click on the link to join provided by the creator of the group. Once you’ve joined the group, that link to join becomes the home page for the group. You’ll see all of the members of the group, as well as the documents and annotations of the group.

The following video tutorial shows how to join a group and activate Hypothesis to join in to the work of the group.

One of the biggest questions I have from students as they use Hypothesis Groups is how to save annotations to the group, as opposed to Public/Private annotations. The animation below shows how to make sure you’re leaving your annotation in the Group.

Wrapping up

Hypothesis provides a powerful way to have students read and annotate reading materials. The only challenge in this process would be supporting learners that chose to print out and mark up readings. I also include a mixture of video, audio, and other modes of information with the readings. I’m still looking for a way to integrate all of this information into a synthesis tool. I definitely recommend using Hypothesis in your own research..and collaboratively with other learners online.


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Originally published at W. Ian O’Byrne.