I’ve been using @hypothes_is for collaborative annotation of both primary and secondary sources since 2018. It is the best digital pedagogical tool I have encountered. Some things I’ve learned:

A 🧵 for those thinking of using #annotation in your Spring 21 courses.

Like all online learning platforms and tools, it works best with instructor presence. If you’re annotating with the students, there will be a richer conversation and you will get to hear from more folks.

Pre-annotation is especially useful. Before posting a link to a piece for annotation, I add my own questions, comments, and reflections. I encourage students to reply to me (and each other) or add their own thoughts.

Set aside specific times in your week to reply to annotations. Replying throughout the week helps to energize the conversation, and doesn’t feel as laborious as responding to an online discussion board. It doesn’t feel laborious…at all. (For me at least!)

[Of course, the amount of time you spend depends on the size of your classes. You don't have to respond to each and every annotation to make your presence felt and to add to the conversation. That's why I *try* to set aside specific times.]

If you’re using the LMS app, I’m not sure if the students will be notified when their annotation receives a reply. I’ve moved my annotations out of the LMS app partially for this reason. [Using the browser extension or via proxy is very simple.] web.hypothes.is/help/what-is-t…

I used to set a minimum amount of annotations per piece. I just did away with this and it is much better. Trust that students will engage as much as they are able (or are interested in doing). Each reading is different.

I also used to give more specific guidance on how substantive I wanted annotations to be. I threw that away too. I now encourage (and use myself) emojis, one-word responses, punctuation, and, most importantly, GIFs!

If you, like me until recently, don't know how to insert a GIF in your Hypothesis annotations, here’s how:

Click on the image icon in the annotation box.
Copy a link to a GIF. (I get mine through giphy.com)
Paste the link.
Post your comment!

This kind of engagement is more fun, more interactive, and more illuminating than a more traditional “discussion board” style approach. It provides more of an organic conversation, asynchronously, throughout the week. It is also a really great way to #HumanizeOL.

I used to give “participation points” only for annotations. After fully embracing #ungrading (never going back btw), students now just tell me whether they’ve completed them and I focus all my time on interacting with the conversation and providing feedback.

The best things about @hypothes_is, according to me:
You hear from more students, more often.
It provides a consistent, flexible platform for student-student interaction AND student-instructor interaction.
It is free and open source.
It is easy to use.
IT IS FUN! Use it!


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