Discussing Readings with Hypothesis: Tips to Create Small Groups

by Nathan Loewen, A&S Faculty Technology Liaison

Hypothesis is a tool in Blackboard that makes students’ reading active, visible, and social. It is quite easy to add a Hypothesis-enabled reading to a Blackboard course shell. Your students can then annotate, as well as read and reply to annotations posted by all other students in the course or section. All of this happens online.

If you wish to break the class up into smaller cohorts to read and annotate in separate groups, there are several options available. I have listed them in the order of what I think is most simple to more complex. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!

Option #1: Use Tags to Create Hypothesis Reading Groups

Using a single Hypothesis-enabled reading, designate a specific tag to be used by students to indicate their reading group. Your students can then filter on this tag to show only annotations from their reading group.

  1. Organize students into groups. You can use “Group 1” etc., or you can be pedagogically creative by organizing groups into methods, topics, concepts, author-figures, theories.
  2. Create tags for each reading group. Example: #group1, #group2, etc.
  3. Filter annotations you see in the Hypothesis Sidebar by tag.

Option #2: Use the Jigsaw Collaborative Teaching Strategy

If you want each group to be responsible for reading and annotating a certain section of the reading or each group to read and annotate a different reading, you can use the jigsaw method.

  1. Identify which group is reading which section of the file.
  2. Assign groups to each section, and give instructions for students to read and annotate in their “expert” groups (their selected section or reading).
  3. “Experts” are responsible for teaching the students outside of their group about their section

Option #3: Create a Single PDF With All of the Readings for Each Group

Using Adobe Acrobat (free to everyone at UA), create a single PDF with multiple copies of the reading for each group.

  1. Create a PDF file that contains multiple copies of the same reading.
  2. Create a Hypothesis-enabled reading making sure to identify which pages or which copy of the article each group should annotate

How to create the PDF:

  • Using “save as,” create multiple copies of your reading for as many groups as you need, each with its own filename.
  • Open Adobe Acrobat, and select file > create > from multiple files. Then add all the files.
  • Save the new file, and create a Hypothesis-enabled reading in your course.

Option #4: Use PDF Fingerprints to Create Hypothesis Reading Groups

For Hypothesis-enabled group assignments, you need to create separate “digital fingerprint” PDFs for each group and then create separate Hypothesis-enabled readings for each group.

  1. Create PDF files each with a unique fingerprint for each group
  2. Create separate Hypothesis-enabled readings for each group
  3. Assign each Hypothesis-enabled reading to the correct students or label the readings so that students know which group they are in and which reading to annotate.