Hypothes.is for OERs

hi everyone: I wrote this blog post on Hypothes.is originally for the OER Fellows but am reposting to Open Pedagogy group to reach a broader audience:

Hypothes.is an open annotation tool that allows users to collaboratively annotate, highlight, and tag web pages and .pdfs. We’re happy to share that the OpenLab now has the Hypothes.is plugin as well as the Hypothes.is aggregator plugin. Created for open peer review, Hypothes.is has many uses for teaching and learning and it is an important tool for OERs.

The chief use for Hypothes.is is for students to collectively annotate a shared assigned reading. Rather than blogging in response to an entire reading, students can respond to  a specific piece of the reading and, in turn, respond to their classmate’s comments. Students can also use it to give feedback to their instructor on the OER they are using. Peter Brantley on the Hypothes.is blog writes:

“The promise of annotation lies in its ability to create a richer and more interactive environment for learning. This support ranges from the point of creation of educational materials through aiding editing workflows for content authors, to active use in pedagogy. Annotation can enable classroom or workgroup-based student-student assistance, and it can also create a framework enabling the creation and review of assignments by teachers for their students. Perhaps most intriguingly, annotation is a “write-back” technology, enabling students to provide direct feedback on the utility or educational content and their use, providing a means to suggest improvement and clarification.”

The plugins
I initially tried Hypothes.is as a browser extension for Chrome. Users not on the also have the option of installing it as bookmarklet for their browser. All users need to create an account in order to save their work. But now that we have the OpenLab plugin, all you have to do is activate the plugin for your OER and you’re good to go.

The hypothes.is aggregator plugin can collect the work of the entire class from a specific OpenLab site such as your OER. An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education Professor Hacker blog by George Williams explains how the aggregator can be used for OERs:

“Many instructors already use hypothes.is by assigning a reading that students will annotate together. Hyopthes.is Aggregator makes it easy to assign a topic, rather than a reading, and ask students to find their own readings on the web, annotate them, and tag them with the course tag. Then Hypothes.is Aggregator can collect all the annotations with the class tag in one place, so students and instructors can see and follow-up on each other’s annotations.”

My experience
I tested out Hypothes.is on a variety of library resources and it should work in any OER-related context. It works perfectly on all kinds of websites except, not surprisingly, proprietary content in library databases. Library database content can be highlighted and annotated and tagged if it is in .html but .pdfs allow only annotations and tags.

The user interface is fairly intuitive although it should be noted that in order to highlight specific text, the text needs to be selected with a cursor and only then does the icon for highlighting get invoked.

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