Tool makes webpages and digital texts spaces of critique, discussion

Learning rating

Community rating

Based on 1 review

Privacy rating

Expert evaluation by Common Sense



Subjects & Skills

Communication & Collaboration, Critical Thinking, English Language Arts

Great for

Evaluating Media, Media Literacy

Price: Free, Paid
Platforms: Web, Chrome

Pros: Endless classroom use cases. Supports active learning, digital literacy, and communication.

Cons: Not much visual appeal, especially for younger learners. Some of the document text doesn't transfer correctly in Schoology.

Bottom Line: This tool opens up digital text and the web to analysis, annotation, and discussion, whether inside a classroom or with the world.

Teachers across all subject areas can use Hypoothes.is to develop students' close reading and analytical skills. Enabling the extension adds a layer to any content on the web wherein users can highlight, take notes, ask questions, and integrate videos and images. Of course, this might not align with your school's privacy and safety guidelines. This is why teachers will want to look into Hypothes.is's learning management system (LMS) integration. This version, which isn't free, lets teachers assign and grade content. More importantly, the LMS version also creates a private space where students and teachers can comment and reply to each other on a document without outside interference or distraction.

In ELA, teachers can highlight a text to emphasize specific content for discussion, ask a question, or pre-teach vocabulary words. In a social studies or science course, teachers can share current events articles or research and have students share their opinions and reply to their peers online. Teachers might also curate already-annotated web content, which can be helpful for reading critical reviews or looking for a variety of perspectives on a text -- the opportunities for learning are endless.

Hypothes.is is a Chrome extension with LTI integration capabilities that lets users highlight content and add annotations and replies to PDFs or websites using either the web or their school's learning management system (LMS). Teachers can assign content to their classes, which students read and annotate right from the LMS, whether it's Canvas, Schoology, Moodle, or something else. Then teachers can reply to students and grade the assignments without leaving the LMS.

Another way to engage is through public annotations, searchable from within Hypothes.is. It's up to the instructor whether or not to encourage students to engage in annotations available to the public; teachers of younger students might want to limit the conversations to classmates, while high school teachers might want more in-depth discussion with a larger audience. There's a page for educators full of resources for how to get started using Hypothes.is with students. The resources include guides for teachers and students, sample classroom projects, testimonials, and a YouTube channel with tutorials. 

Hypothes.is makes it easy for teachers to guide students to more active reading of text and to read things they might normally avoid. Annotating live webpages (and even text embedded in private groups) helps students to develop their digital literacy skills and to cultivate their own voices and perspectives. Students may ask questions, challenge others' viewpoints, or read annotations to help them clarify a text's meaning or purpose. Hypothes.is can also be used as a note-taking and research tool, allowing for a more collaborative and dynamic study strategy, or as a critical reading tool with which teachers assign readings to students and have them answer questions or highlight and describe concepts. While teachers can assign grades and give feedback for annotations done through their LMS, the use of the extension on public websites will require teachers to develop rubrics and/or systems for assessing students that are transparent and consistent. Teachers will also want to develop wraparound resources for acting responsibly in community spaces, writing effectively, and making sound community contributions.

Learning Rating

Overall Rating

It's not the flashiest tool, and it's a little wonky to set up in an LMS, but students might enjoy the idea of adding an extra layer to the web. Student buy-in will depend on scaffolding and text selection. 


Annotating helps students develop key thinking, literacy, and communication skills. The classroom-oriented private groups facilitate safe collaboration and learning.


Paid education accounts come with a host of live and recorded support. Some offline materials or activities for building annotation skills would be handy.

Common Sense reviewer
Marianne Rogowski
Marianne Rogowski Instructional Technology Facilitator

Community Rating

Teach your students to annotate the web with Hypothes.is

What Works - When the extension functioned properly, students could highlight and take notes on websites, see each other's comments (with a hashtag), and reply to each other.

What Needs Improvement - There are several glitches. The extension was not reliably functional. Also, when multiple users annotate a site, the other people's annotations are distracting. There's an "eye" button to turn them on/off, but sometimes they turned on automatically. Most importantly, there should be an easier way to export/share/view someone else's annotations without needed a Hypothes.is account.

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Privacy Rating

Data Safety How safe is this product?

  • Unclear whether this product supports interactions between trusted users.
  • Personal information can be displayed publicly.
  • User-created content is not filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.

Data Rights What rights do I have to the data?

  • Users can create or upload content.
  • Processes to access or review user data are not available.
  • Processes to modify data are available for authorized users.

Ads & Tracking Are there advertisements or tracking?

  • Personal information is not shared for third-party marketing.
  • Traditional or contextual advertisements are not displayed.
  • Personalised advertising is not displayed.

Continue reading about this tool's privacy practices, including data collection, sharing, and security.

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