What is Hypothes.is

Hypothes.is describes itself as “A conversation layer over the entire web that works everywhere, without needing implementation by any underlying site”.  Hypothesis allows users to annotate text at the sentence level. Any text that is available on the web can be critiqued or annotated using hypothesis, such as news, blogs, scientific articles, books, scripts, terms of service, legislation, and court decisions.  

Hypothesis has several key features that make it customizable for education and teaching needs, including

  • Tagging
  • Ability to annotate with media (e.g., pictures)
  • Private groups

What is the purpose of Hypothes.is

The purpose of hypothesis is to allow users to collaboratively annotate text on the web.

How to use Hypothes.is

  • Hypothesis requires an account to make annotations. Once you sign up for an account, hypothes.is can be used in two primary ways. Attempting to follow either method below will prompt you to create an account before you can make annotations.

  • Via the Hypothesis website
    1. On the hypothesis website, select “Paste a Link”, and paste or type the URL of the website you wish to annotate.
    2. On the right of your browser window, click the arrow to show the Hypothesis toolbar. Sign up or Log in to begin making annotations.
    3. Once logged in, use the highlighting and annotation tools to annotate the website.
    4. You can navigate around once sites once you are using hypothes.is and you will stay in the tool until you open a new tab or close the current tab.
  • Using a browser extension
    1. Chrome browser users can add an extension to their browser, so that turning on annotation is as simple as clicking the annotate logo within your browser. Sign up or Log in to begin making annotations.
    2. Users of other browsers can add a bookmarklet to their bookmarks bar in order to easily turn on annotation.

Where to find Support

This tool is not centrally supported

Help and Documentation

For help, please refer to the help page with FAQs, tutorials, trouble-shooting, a support forum, and a help ticketing system. Hypothesis also has a support email address (support@hypothes.is).  

Tool Evaluation

Functionality overall rating: 3 starsFunctionality

Rating Rationale
Scale rating: 3 stars


The tool can be scaled to accommodate any size class with the flexibility to create smaller sub-groups or communities of practice

Ease of use rating:3 stars

Ease of Use

The tool has a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate and personalize. There are several ways to personalize the annotation experience, such as by tagging or making groups. More advanced ways to use hypothes.is include adding hypothesis to your website.

Tech Support/ Help Availability rating: 3 stars

Tech Support/Help Availability

In-person or email based technical support is readily available and aids users in troubleshooting tasks or solving problems experienced. The help page includes FAQs, tutorials, trouble-shooting, a support forum, and a help ticketing system. Hypothes.is also has a support email address (support@hypothes.is).

Hypermediality rating: 3 stars


The tool allows users to communicate through different channels (video, visual, textual). Adding videos and images requires the media to be available online (or posted online by the user to a sharing site like imgur). Online media are then linked using the buttons in hypothes.is or markdown language. Hypothes.is allows for non-sequential, flexible/adaptive engagement with digital texts.

Accessibility overall rating: 3 starsAccessibility

Rating Rationale
AODA Friendly rating: 3 stars

AODA Friendly

The tool fully supports compliance with AODA standards for accessibility (W3C WCAG 2.0 Standards), and makes it easy for materials to be made AODA-friendly. See Accessibility at Hypothes.is

User Foused Participation rating: 3 stars

User-focused participation

The tool is designed to address the needs of diverse users, their various literacies, and capabilities, thereby widening opportunities for participation in learning

Required Equipment rating: 3 stars

Required Equipment

Proper use of the tool does not require equipment other than a computer and access to the internet, however, regular users may wish to use the chrome browser extension

Technical overall rating: 2 starsTechnical

Rating Rationale
OWL Integration rating: 2 stars

OWL Integration

Hypothes.is can be used on any digital text, including within OWL course sites - with some limitations to functionality.

Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Operating Systems

Users can effectively utilize the tool with any standard, up-to-date operating system (i.e. Windows 10, Apple OSX, etc.)

Web Browser rating: 3 stars

Web Browser

Users can effectively utilize the tool with any standard, up-to-date web browser directly via the Hypothes.is Start Page

Additional Tech Requirements rating: 2 stars

Additional Tech Requirements

Users are encouraged to download the Chrome Extension or Hypothes.is Bookmarklet tool for efficient, streamlined use.

Mobile Design overall rating: 1 star Mobile Design

Rating Rationale
Mobile Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Mobile Operating Systems

The tool is fully functional with a range of electronic mobile devices (laptops, tablets, touchscreens, mobile devices, etc.)

Mobile Functionality rating: 3 stars

Mobile Functionality

There is little to no functional difference between the mobile app and the main tool

Offline Access rating: 1 star

Offline Access

The platform cannot be used in any capacity offline

Usage and account set up overall rating: 1 starsUsage and Account Set Up

Rating Rationale
Sign Up/Sign In rating: 1 stars

Sign Up/Sign In

All users (instructors and students) must create an external account or additional login

Cost of Use rating:  3 stars

Cost of Use

All aspects of the tool can be used free of charge

Archiving Saving and Exporting Data rating: 2 star

Archiving, Saving, and Exporting Data

There are limitations to archiving, saving, or importing/exporting content or activity data. You can search the history of a user or a tag, but cannot easily export the data outside of hypothesis.

Data Privacy and Ownership rating: 2 star

Data Privacy and Ownership

Annotations shared as public contributions are dedicated using the Creative Commons CC0 Public domain dedication. On the other hand, annotations made within groups are not in the public domain or dedicated using Creative Commons licensing.

Social Presence overall rating: 1 starsSocial Presence

Rating Rationale
Collaboration rating: 3 stars


The tool has the capacity to support a community of learning through both asynchronous and synchronous opportunities for communication, interactivity, and transfer of meaning between users

User Accountability rating: 2 stars

User Accountability

Instructors cannot control student anonymity but the tool provides some solution for holding students accountable for their actions

Diffusion rating: 1 star


The tool is not well known/foreign, it is likely that students are not familiar with the tool and lack basic technical competence with its functions

Instructor Presence overall rating: 3 starsInstructor Presence

Rating Rationale
Facilitation rating:3 stars


The tool has easy-to-use features that would significantly improve an instructor’s ability to be present with students via active management, monitoring, and engagement

Customization rating: 3 stars


Tool is adaptable to its environment: easily customized to suit the classroom context and targeted learning outcomes

Learning Analytics rating: 3 stars

Learning Analytics

Instructor can monitor students’ performance on a variety of responsive measures by searching by username.

Cognitive Presence overall rating: 3 starsCognitive Presence

Rating Rationale
Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s) rating: 3 stars

Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s)

The tool enhances engagement in targeted cognitive task(s) that were once overly complex or inconceivable through other means

Higher Order Thinking rating: 3 stars

Higher Order Thinking

Use of the tool easily facilitates students to exercise higher order thinking skills (given consideration to design, facilitation, and direction from instructor)

Feedback on Learning rating:3 stars

Feedback on Learning

Through the tool, students can regularly receive formative feedback on learning (i.e. they can track their performance, monitor their improvement, test their knowledge, etc.)

Security and Privacy

This tool has not been formally reviewed by Western’s Technology Risk Assessment Committee

Security and Privacy Flags


  • Users are required to create and use a non-Western account. It is highly recommended that users do not use the same username and password that is in use at Western.

Information Collection

  • Application collects information that could identify the user specifically (email address, class schedule, etc..)


  • Acceptance of the Application's Terms of Conditions or End User License Agreement may bind the institution to an agreement thereby requiring legal counsel to review the application contract.


  • This application is hosted outside of Canada

Last Updated: September 16, 2020


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