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CTOL: Hypothesis



Building 22, Room 181


Monday - Friday

8:00am - 4:00pm



Hypothesis is a social annotation tool that can be integrated into your Canvas course. Instructors select a text (a PDF or webpage) for students to read. Students are then able to read the text and annotate it as they read, adding highlights, text, or images in a class conversation.

If you are curious about adding Hypothesis content into your course, contact the Center for Teaching and Online Learning for support, or visit the Hypothesis help pages for many useful guides to get started.

For ongoing Hypothesis training, check the CTOL calendar or go to a Hypothesis workshop!

How to use Hypothesis in Canvas

Follow the steps below (or read these instructions from Hypothesis) to set up a Hypothesis assignment. You don't need to install anything in Canvas.

  1. When you are ready to assign a reading in Hypothesis, first locate your file. We recommend using a PDF (always make sure that your PDF is accessible). Here is more information on scanning documents and running OCR on existing PDFs to make sure your documents are accessible.
  2. Upload your file to the Canvas course where you plan to use Hypothesis. 
  3. Then create a new assignment.
  4. In submission type, choose External Tool, then choose Hypothesis and select your file.
My Hypothesis assignment isn't working!

Sometimes Hypothesis assignments don't work because the file is actually in another Canvas course. This usually happens with a copied Canvas course. If students report being unable to open the Hypothesis assignment, please re-upload your file to the current Canvas course or reach out to CTOL for support. We can quickly troubleshoot what is causing the issue.

Sometimes a Hypothesis assignment has an issue if you set it up using a URL instead of a Canvas file. This happens when a URL changes. Because of this, we recommend uploading your PDF files directly into Canvas instead.

Is Hypothesis accessible?

Hypothesis should be as accessible as the documents that have been loaded in it are. That means, you must be sure that your documents are actual text that can be read by a screen reader.

Hypothesis Support

CTOL can provide support with Hypothesis, and in our experience, Hypothesis is also really responsive to support questions. You can search the Hypothesis help center or submit a help request here.