Hypothesis is an online tool that allows students to collaboratively annotate course readings and other internet resources.  The instructor can prepopulate the reading with their own questions to guide students and students can respond with their thoughts and reflections.

In this example of teacher annotations, you can see that the text is along the left-hand side of the page and the annotations are displayed to the right.  Students can respond with questions, comments or opinions in the form of text or other media including their own drawings, photographs or videos. 


Collaborative annotation tools offer an excellent starting place for immersing students in the scholarly practice of research and annotation, while encouraging them to share information and build on the work of others in a dynamic community of thought.

educause, 2009

As discussed in Back to School with Annotation, Hypothesis has the following benefits:

  • Instructors can guide their students’ reading asynchronously.
  • Students benefit from the input and comments of other students.
  • Students can pose questions to which anyone (the instructor or other students) can respond.
  • Students become more actively involved as they interact with both their instructor and their peers.
  • Students have the option of posting their response in text, audio or video format.

Best Practices

  • Use Hypothesis to generate a sense of community.  For example, post the course outline and ask students to add text, audio, or video annotations describing work or life experiences they have had related to certain course topics.


It is important to consider accessibility when determining whether a technology fits the needs of your class. Hypothesis has provided information about accessibility considerations when using this technology.

Similar Tools



Seven Things You Should Know About Collaborative Annotation. Retrieved from https://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7054.pdf

teaching tipsThis Creative Commons license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon our work non-commercially, as long as they credit us and indicate if changes were made. Use this citation format: Hypothesis. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo.