Hypothesis Basics: Start Here

Hypothesis Basics: Start Here

Hypothesis is a collaborative annotation tool that makes reading active, visible, and social. With Hypothesis, students engage with their readings, instructors, ideas, and each other in deeper, more meaningful ways. This page provides a roadmap to using Perusall in Canvas.

Note about hyperlinks: links to online guides and support documents will open in a new tab. Some will link to documents on the UO Teaching Support and Innovation website. Others link to the Hypothesis Teacher Resource Guide.

For information about collaborative annotation as a teaching practice, please see our Collaborative Annotation Tools - Hypothesis and Perusall document.

If you'd like to consult with UO Online about how to use Perusall in your courses, please contact us.

Table of Contents

Related Topics: Canvas, Canvas Assignments

Hypothesis & PDF Documents


PDFs are likely the most common document type you might use with Hypothesis. In order for PDFs to be used with Hypothesis, you must ensure that they contain "selectable text." This means that the PDFs are not images of text, but text that can be highlighted. If your document is a scanned PDF, it must be put through the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) process. This process ensures that the PDF has selectable text and will allow students to highlight document text in Perusall

If you need assistance determining if your PDFs are images or contain selectable text, or with using OCR to convert your PDFs, please refer to the Creating Text Based PDFs for Hypothesis and Perusall How To document.

Assignment Set-Up

Before creating the assignment, be sure to upload the PDF students will annotate to Canvas files or locate the URL for a webpage or online PDF that will be used in the assignment.

If students will be completing the assignment in smaller groups, create the Canvas Group Set first.

  • Navigate to your Assignments page and click the "+ Assignment" button.
  • Enter the Assignment Name, Instructions, Points, and Assignment Group (if using).
Canvas Assignments page showing +Assignment button.
  • In the the Submission Type field, select External Tool from the drop-down menu and and click Find.
Canvas Submission Type options with "External Tool" and "Find" selected

Configure External Tool

Scroll through the External Tools list and select Hypothesis. The Link Resource from External Tool dialog box will open. Here you will select the Assignment Content. The most common options are:

  1. Linking to a URL Webpage | PDF
    • Select the URL Web Page | PDF option and type the URL of the web page or PDF.
  2. Linking to a Canvas PDF File
    • The first time you choose Select PDF from Canvas, you may see the Authorize dialog box. Click on Authorize and the Canvas dialogue box for Authorizing Access will appear. Click the Authorize button again to give Hypothesis access to your Canvas files.
    • Once you've authorized Hypothesis to access Canvas files, a new dialog box will appear showing a list of PDF files that are in the Canvas File repository for the course will appear.
    • Click on the title of the file to use.
    • Click Select. ​​​​​​
  3. Linking to a OneDrive PDF file
    • The first time Select a PDF from OneDrive is chosen, you may need to log-into your Microsoft uoregon.edu account.
    • After entering the account information for the OneDrive account, a window opens showing the user's My Files view in OneDrive.
    • Navigate to the PDF to be used in the assignment, select the file, and click Open.
Hypothesis link resource from external tool option in canvas

Using Groups in Hypothesis Assignments

Hypothesis uses Canvas Group Sets when the Hypothesis assignment is to be completed in groups. The Group Set and Groups must be created in Canvas before the Hypothesis Assignment is created. See How to Manually Create Groups in Canvas  for group set-up in Canvas.

  • In the Hypothesis Assignment Details section, select the box "This is a group assignment" and then select the Group Set from the drop-down menu.
Hypothesis in Canvas showing Group Assignment selection of Hypothesis Groups

For more information about groups and Hypothesis, see Hypothesis' Using Canvas Groups to Create Hypothesis Reading Groups.

Grading Student Annotations in Canvas

Hypothesis assignments are graded in SpeedGrader. For instructions on grading a Hypothesis assignment in Canvas, see the Hypothesis article Grading Student Annotations in Canvas.

Introducing Students to Hypothesis

Please see the Hypothesis article Introduction to Hypothesis LMS App for Students.