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Blackboard Hypothesis


Social annotation is the activity of reading and thinking together. With hypothesis for Blackboard, instructors can ensure that their students are understanding the readings by annotating digital content socially. 

Imagine a group of your students opening a PDF or a webpage and being able to work together to make meaning of the reading, sharing their responses and ideas about the text or images, and annotating within the margins of the digitally assigned content.  

Register for one or more workshops to begin using hypothesis in your courses and gather fun ideas for using collaborative annotation to improve your students’ success.  

Get started with hypothesis and feel comfortable creating social reading assignments today! 

annotation screen shot

Liquid Margins Show Podcast!
Liquid Margins Show Podcast!

RSVP to the Liquid Margins Show Podcast! Join others nationwide to talk about the pedagogy of collaborative annotation and social learning and discover ways to make knowledge together. 


The emergence of cutting-edge technologies, like ChatGPT, has sparked a critical conversation throughout the education industry. If you’re as intrigued as we are, you won’t want to miss our upcoming webinar, "Leveraging Social Annotation in the Age of AI".

The Hypothesis team is excited to explore the role of social annotation in this newly-evolving landscape. We’ll show you how to leverage social annotation to encourage authentic, process-oriented engagement with your course materials. We’ll even be sharing best practices for using social annotation with AI writing tools.

Topic: Leveraging Social Annotation in the Age of AI | Date: Thursday, March 2 | Time: 12:00 PM EST | Duration: 60 minutes

Register for Webinarnew window

To create a Hypothesis assignment,

  • Select a website or public pdf document on the Internet.  Copy the URL. 
    • If you are sharing your own PDF document, upload it to the Blackboard content collection or OneDrive.
  • Create a Hypothesis assignment in Blackboard: 
    • Build Content>Hypothesis.
    • Enable Grading
  • Go back and find the Hypothesis assignment you just created, click to open it, and select one of the options to build the assignment.
    • Enter URL of web page or PDF
    • Select PDF from Blackboard
    • Select PDF from Google Drive
    • Select PDF from OneDrive
  • Enter Student Preview to review your post


The following are activities that could pair well with this approach:

  • Peer feedback and editing - Create peer review activities and group annotations.
  • Qualitative coding - for methods courses, consider bringing in example data for qualitative coding where students can practice and get feedback on developing skills.
  • Close reading and primary source analysis - Consider having students practice close reading and analysis skills with source material in a collaborative context.
  • Case study analysis - Courses working with case studies could use collaborative annotation as a way to surface key information from case materials. It also allows the instructor to see into the student preparation process for class.
  • Interpreting information, data, visuals, or artifacts - Numerous courses incorporate practicing critical reading and interpretation with a variety of materials. Collaborative annotation offers an opportunity to surface details around those practices.
  • Have students annotate your syllabus.
  • Pre-populate a text with questions for students to reply to in annotations or notes elucidating important points as they read.
  • Have students look up difficult words or unknown allusions in a text and share their research as annotations.
  • Have students highlight, tag, and annotate words or passages that are confusing to them in their readings.
  • Have students identify formal textual elements and broader social and historical contexts at work in specific passages.
  • Have students share their personal opinions on a controversial topic as discussed by an article.  


  • Students access a Hypothesis assignment directly from their Bb course. 
  • All comments are shared only with the members of the course. 
  • Students digitally highlight ideas or important text passages to 
    privately separate them from the surrounding text. 
  • Students make digital annotations (comments to digital content) openly in the course for their peers and instructor to see and reply. 
  • Course annotations are visible to everyone. 
  • Private comments made by a student are invisible to the instructor and cannot be graded.
  • It is a collaborative activity where students offer explanations, comments, or opinions to the author's words. 
  • Annotating with Hypothesis helps students to think critically about the texts they are reading. 
  • Students work collaboratively when commenting on a single document through commenting and replies. 
  • Instructors create graded or ungraded Hypothesis assignments in
  • Blackboard that are directly tied to the gradebook. 
  • Shared PDF documents must be in Optical Character Recognition (OCR) format. 

What is OCR? 

OCR, or Optical Character Recognition, is a process where software converts images of text into a machine-readable format. Web browsers and apps like Hypothesis need this machine-readable format in order to select and annotate text within the document.

To convert a PDF to OCR format go to window.

Hypothesis provides support directly to faculty and students via their Help websitenew window.

For additional support:

Hypothesis is not difficult to use, but students will need some guidance the first time they use it. Here are some resources:

  1. Annotation tips for studentsnew window
  2. An Illustrated Taxonomy of Annotation Typesnew window
  3. Adding Links, Images, and Videos  new window
  4. A student guide to Hypothesis in Blackboardnew window
  5. Blackboard Integration and Best Practicesnew window

In this four-week series, we’ll explore teaching strategies related to Hypothesis in your courses. Register for as many sessions as you’d like to attend below. 

If you register and attend all four, you’ll receive a Certificate of Attendance for the Summer 2023 Seminar in Social Annotation as both a PDF certificate and badge you can share.

Summer Workshop Series schedule of topics:

  • June 6, 2023: Annotation starter assignments
  • June 13, 2023: Creative ways to use social annotation in your courses
  • June 20, 2023: Using multimedia and tags in annotations
  • June 27, 2023: Grading and feedback for social annotation

All workshops take place Tuesdays in June at 10 am PT/1 pm ET.

Hypothesis Academy features asynchronous courses designed to teach you not only how to use the Hypothesis tool but how to design social annotation assignments to best support your students’ learning. All courses offer the opportunity to connect and collaborate with other educators using Hypothesis across North America and the globe. Each course culminates in a Hypothesis Certified Educator badge and certificate, which you can share on social media or download/save for your portfolio.

Learn more and including how to register for a Summer 2023 cohort.

In this session, the hypothesis team will discuss how collaborative annotation with Hypothesis can make student reading visible, active, and social. In addition to sharing pedagogical best practices for collaborative annotation, they will demonstrate how Hypothesis can be used with course readings. Participants can expect to come away from this session with a clear idea about how they can start incorporating collaborative annotation into their courses to improve student success.

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

1. explain why social annotation may be useful in their course and explore potential social annotation assignment types.
2. create a Hypothesis-enabled reading in Blackboard.

Register for Workshopnew window

When teaching a large class, it can be challenging to engage every student and ensure that no one feels invisible. Using Hypothesis for social annotation in small groups can help you make more meaningful and collaborative connections with your students. One of our most frequent requests is for the ability to segment large classes. This workshop focuses on the options for using Hypothesis in small groups, and it will cover how social annotation can be used to create a more collaborative learning environment.
By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

1. explain different use cases for using the Hypothesis small groups feature in their Blackboard course site.
2. create a Hypothesis-enabled reading in their Blackboard course site with small groups enabled.

Register for Workshopnew window

Whether you’re having students reply to your syllabus with funny GIFs or asking them to create videos in response to a current-events article, Hypothesis provides a text editor that allows you to include links, images, text, and videos in your and your students' annotations. Tags can also be added to annotations to categorize and organize annotations. This workshop will walk you through how to add multimedia and tags in annotations and offer ideas for using these features to increase engagement in your course readings.
By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

1. explore and list 2-3 strategies to incorporate multimedia and tags into their social annotation assignments.
2. explain why multimedia and tags may be beneficial to incorporate into their social annotation assignments.
3. add images, videos, links, and tags to annotations.

Register for Workshopnew window

In this workshop, our team will lead participants in a discussion about various discussion protocols and active learning strategies that can help make social annotation more engaging and fun. Participants will come away from this session with multiple ways to use social annotation in their courses creatively.
By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

1. explain the benefits of incorporating social annotation with Hypothesis in their courses.
2.  Collect multiple ideas for how to incorporate social annotation in their courses.

Register for Workshopnew window

Join the conversation to hear how MC’s Hypothesis power users are making a positive difference with digital social annotation. This workshop will help faculty identify and discuss increased ways to leverage the abilities of Hypothesis.
The Hypothesis team will lead participants to discuss how collaborative annotation with Hypothesis can be used in their specific disciplines and with their specific teaching and learning objectives. Participants can expect to come away from this session with a clear idea about how they can expand their usage of collaborative annotation in their courses to improve student success.

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

1. explore how faculty at Montgomery College has implemented social annotation in their courses.
2. analyze the benefits of using social annotation in their teaching.
3. follow the steps to create a Hypothesis-enabled reading in Blackboard.

Register for Workshopnew window


For additional information, contact Gloria Barron at