Review by Jennifer Sitkin, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2016

Hypothes.is

Browser extensions add layer of annotation and discussion to the web

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
N/A
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (0)
Not yet reviewed

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Pros: Endless classroom applications; supports active learning and digital literacy skills.

Cons: Student work can't be assessed within the tool.

Bottom Line: Free, user-friendly tool opens up the web to in-context annotation and discussion.

Check out the Education page on the Hypothes.is site, which has resources for teachers and students. To get started, teachers should sign up for a free account and review the suggested lesson ideas. The tool can be used across all subject areas to develop close reading and analytical skills. In English, teachers can pre-highlight a text to emphasize specific content for future discussion, ask a question, or point out a difficult vocabulary word. In a social studies course, teachers can share current events articles and have students share their opinions online. In a Visual Arts class, students can add multimedia to a discussion. The opportunities for learning are endless. Teachers may want to create groups for their classes by sending out an invitation with a secure link. The groups allow teachers to more closely monitor student activity.

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Hypothes.is is a free Chrome extension that lets users add annotations to websites and have discussions on websites. While it's not specifically targeted at school use, the developers have encouraged educators and students to adopt the tool. Users can register for a free account and begin using the site immediately. 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. The annotations are available to the public, although groups can be created for more privacy and security. There is 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 and testimonials, and a YouTube channel with tutorials. A search feature can be used to find already-annotated web content. 

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Hypothes.is makes it easy for teachers to guide students through the active process of engaging with what they find on the web. Annotating pages will help students develop their digital literacy skills and to cultivate their own voices as they engage critically with what they consume. Hypothes.is can also be used as a note-taking and research tool, allowing for more collaborative and dynamic study strategy, or as a critical-reading tool with which teachers assign websites and readings to students and have them answer questions or highlight and describe concepts. Note that there's no assessment built into the tool, however, so teachers will need to develop rubrics and/or systems for assessing students that are transparent and consistent. 

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

It's not the flashiest tool, but students might enjoy the idea of adding an extra layer to the web. Student buy-in will depend on how teachers decide to use the various features in the classroom. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Annotating the web will help students develop digital citizenship and web-literacy skills. Using private online groups for discussion and annotation would facilitate collaboration and learning.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

The Education section of the Hypothes.is site includes teacher and student guides, YouTube tutorials, annotation tips, and much more. 


Common Sense Reviewer
Jennifer Sitkin Classroom teacher

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