Teaching Hub

Social Reading Supports Student Success (e.g., Hypothesis)

by Nathan Loewen, Department of Religious Studies

Maintaining engagement and a sense of community is valuable no matter how strange and extenuated the conditions for teaching and learning. 24 UA courses used the new Hypothesis tool in Blackboard (found in your “build content” menu). Hypothesis allows teachers and learners to add a layer of commentary over PDF files and web pages.

At UA in Fall 2020, 1004 students and 48 teachers made 11,863 annotations on 547 assignments. If you do the math, you can see that students weren’t simply posting a comment and leaving. Their conversations were layered directly onto their readings. In response to a survey, students saw the value of being able to have conversations about their readings:

“I LOVE that I can see what others think of any reading (or page of interest) that is a website. It’s nice to have my notes shared and easy to write, but more importantly, it’s great to see what others are thinking and then to have a grasp ahead of time on what others are interested in discussing.”

If you are interested in the idea of using Hypothesis in your Spring 2021 course, there are some things you might do:

  1. Experiment with Hypothesis while building your courses in Blackboard. Everyone has access to Hypothesis in the “build content” menu. Here’s how to get started.
  2. Write Nathan Loewen an email. He is running the pilot at UA and is available to chat by email or arrange a Zoom meeting.
  3. Schedule a meeting with Hypothesis. They are really nice people! (Hypothesis is a non-profit!)

Here is what one UA instructor said about using Hypothesis in Fall 2020: “The students actually refined their arguments as they proceeded through the transcript. The ease with which they could refer to the source in order to support their comments improved their reasoning. I was impressed by their ability to incorporate and respond to each others’ comments.”

The idea of Hypothesis is to go from this:

To this:

screenshot of a hypothesis page