Collaborative Annotation in the Classroom and the Office

Workshop Session 1

Brief Abstract

This workshop explores collaborative annotation as a core digital academic practice. This technology enables users to discuss on any Web page. It can be integrated into courses but also used by staff and faculty in professional development. Workshop participants will gain hands-on experience with an open-source annotation client, Hypothesis.


Jeremy Dean, Director of Education, Hypothesis Jeremy was previously the Director of Education at Genius where he facilitated educational applications of their interactive archive of literary and historical texts. Jeremy is a scholar-educator with fifteen years of experience teaching at both the college and high school levels. He received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas at Austin where he worked as a Project Leader in the Digital Writing and Research Lab for four years developing units and lesson plans around a variety of digital tools. He also worked as a Program Coordinator at the University of Texas Humanities Institute, overseeing their education initiatives.
Instructional Design Consultant, Master’s in Educational Leadership, champion of student voice and agency, builder of relationships. Passionately drawn to the spaces where digital and social justice intersect.

Extended Abstract

Over the past year, the Digital Learning Team at Muhlenberg College has incorporated the Hypothesis ( ) open-source, standards-based collaborative annotation platform into several learning contexts for students, faculty, and staff. Based on that experience, this workshop intends to demonstrate multiple academic uses of Hypothesis and provide a model for integration of collaborative annotation on a college campus. We will provide time for hands-on, directed exploration of the tool’s affordances and complete a group annotation activity during the session. Additionally, workshop leaders will initiate a discussion that explores the professional and pedagogical possibilities of collaborative annotation in the classroom and beyond.


Our workshop is designed to produce these four measurable outcomes:


  1. Participants understand the civic and academic value of collaborative annotation.

  2. Participants gain hands-on experience with the Hypothesis annotation client.

  3. Participants learn practical strategies for classroom integration of collaborative annotation.

  4. Participants develop a plan for course or campus implementation of collaborative annotation technology.     


Jeremy Dean, Director of Education at Hypothesis, will open the workshop by providing a background to the Hypothesis project, a unique non-profit software company working in education, scholarly publishing, and journalism. Because Hypothesis is not a traditional ed-tech company, its tool is not “disposable” in the way that many products used in classrooms can be. While web annotation technology can bring clear pedagogical benefits to a particular course, it is also a tool that students may take from class to class and into their own inquiries and conversations beyond campus. Similarly, unlike many traditional ed-tech products, instructors and staff can also use Hypothesis in their own professional and intellectual work as well as in the classroom.


Jenna Azar, Jordan Noyes, and Tim Clarke will then offer insights and effective practices learned from the integration of the Hypothesis platform at Muhlenberg College. They will focus on the introduction of Hypothesis within a Faculty Learning Community (FLC) during Fall 2016 and then expanded integration within a Faculty Online Learning Development Cohort during Spring 2017.  They will share examples of effective practices, methods, and opportunities for faculty development as well as stories of faculty and students using the tool in the classroom and beyond.


After a brief introduction to the Hypothesis client, workshop facilitators will lead the group in a collaborative annotation exercise. The activity will focus on a selected piece of OLC-related content and the broader OLC community not attending the workshop, both at the conference and off site, will be invited to join the conversation. While this activity is synchronous, the nature of collaborative annotation is such that others can participate at later times and the annotated document will remain a living artifact.


Finally, Jeremy, Jenna, Tim, and Jordan will discuss the collaboration between Hypothesis and Muhlenberg and the implications for how technology companies and academic institutions can more productively and authentically work together to improve teaching and learning. We will close the workshop with an open discussion of how participants can carry their learning from the session forward by implementing collaborative annotation as a classroom or professional development project.  


Below we explicitly address the specific questions provided in the proposal guidelines:  


What types of collaboration or interactivity will occur during the workshop?​


Workshop leaders will lead participants through the basic affordances of the Hypothesis platform. Then the group will collaboratively annotate content directly relevant to the OLC community, possibly from the Online Learning Journal or the OLC blog. Conference attendees and the remote OLC community will be invited to participate in this “annotatathon.”  Workshop participants will also openly discuss potential professional and pedagogical applications of the technology. Jeremy, Jenna, Tim, and Jordan will facilitate the use of Hypothesis during this activity. The use of personal electronic devices is assumed.


What will participants take home as a tangible deliverable or takeaway?


Participants will gain practical experience with the Hypothesis client, leaving the session feeling comfortable continuing to explore the tool’s functionality on their own and with resources to take home and refer to as they do so. Participants will also leave having brainstormed and discussed the next steps for implementation, whether that be a possible annotation assignment or the outline of a plan for campus integration.  


How will they be able to apply the effective practices shared in the workshop at their home institution?


Based on their own experience, workshop leaders will outline best practices  for both course and campus integration of collaborative annotation technology and allow time for discussion of the various challenges and possibilities presented by different institutional contexts.


Who do you envision as the primary audience types who would get the most out of this session and why?


While all conference attendees could likely benefit from this workshop, faculty, instructional designers and technologists will likely get the most out of the session.