Web Annotation With Hypothes.is In Canvas Training Session

This post is being used to document and distribute materials associated with a training I'm giving at the University of Oklahoma, which covers collaborative web annotation as a tool for engaging students.

“Writing in the margins” of books and journal articles (or any other texts) in collaboration with others is one way instructors seek to enhance learning experiences. Using collaborative web annotations, faculty on our campus are seeding their course discussions and engaging students in collaborative scholarship. Here’s an example of course that is using collaborative web annotations:

Website using hypothes.is to annotate Byron Readings

Tool Showcase

We’re going to dive deeper into collaborative web annotation as it’s one technology that’s being used across many disciplines. Here are several pieces of literature that are being annotated collaboratively by students:

If you’d like to create a Hypothes.is account and start collaboratively annotating the web, signup here.

Here’s a student blog post you can practice annotating now.

Additionally, here is what Hypothes.is looks like integrated into Canvas:

Canvas Course displaying hypothes.is content.


  1. Why use collaborative web annotation in the classroom?
  2. What documents might be annotated by students?
  3. What does an assignment look like using web annotation? (Current ones)
  4. What other assignments could benefit from web annotation?
  5. How does feedback to student change with web annotation assignments?
  6. Why engage students in annotating materials publicly?
  7. Any other thoughts/ideas?



Instructor Blog Post: Using Hypothes.is in the College Classroom


(Technical resources from here.)

The featured image is provided CC0 by Anastasia Zhenina via Unsplash.

Gamifying The Writing Process With Habitica

One of the (many) side-projects that John and I have been working on is gamifying the writing process. In particular, we’re interested in gamification that seeks to reinforce and build good habits that yield efficient writing, research, and revision.

This semester, the Writing Center on our campus engaged us in brainstorming the logistics, pedagogical implications, etc. of such a writing program. From conversations with them, John and I have pursued various tools and solutions. At the moment, we’re prototyping two different applications of gamifying the writing process. John has already written about one of these ideas—using automated word-counts to engage individuals in competing against themselves to encourage writing. Now I want to address the other prototype we’re developing.

We’ve been researching and using Habitica as a platform to facilitate a gamified writing program (learn more about Habitica here and here). In fact, writing this blog post fulfills a “daily” task for me in the very Habitica system we are prototyping!

Keegan's Habitca website daily todo list that highlights "writing for 10 minutes" and "write a blog post"
Keegan’s Habitica Writing Tasks

Anyways, yesterday I met with Annemarie Mulkey, an instructor in the english department who has participated in both GOBLIN and eXperience Play. I reached out to Annemarie because she has experience with Habitca, a background in English, and is a blast to work with! Since Annemarie uses Habitica to motivate her own productivity (even more broadly than writing), her perspective was phenomenal.

Eventually, we wound up brainstorming how to setup Habitica to gamify writing an undergraduate research paper. We decided the research paper was only going to be ~5 pages and be completed over 7 days. With these parameters set, here’s what we developed using Habitica in half an hour:

Whiteboard Brainstorming

Research Paper Challenge outlined on whiteboard

Resultant Habitica Challenge

Research Paper Challenge in Habitica includes many tasks to complete

Since Habitica possesses a feature called Challenges that allows users to add custom sets of tasks to their account, we used this mechanism as the means to facilitate the gamification of writing a research paper. The Habitica To-Do list we envisioned includes tasks like outlining, researching, and drafting the paper to serve as a set of goals for students working on their research paper.

Taking this a step further to encourage the practices that produce good writing and researching, Annemarie and I used the Habits and Dailies of Habitica to reward students for tasks like 30 minutes of uninterrupted reading/writing, exploring the citations of sources, and writing 1 page for the paper everyday. Together, these three components of our Habitica Challenge (To-Dos, Habits, and Dailies) divide up the process of writing a research paper into manageable pieces for undergraduate students, and award students who complete these tasks regularly with experience points and gold in Habitica.

If you want to dive deeper into the specifics of Habitica or our Challenge, either reach out to me with questions or signup for Habitica, send me your Habitica UserID so I can invite you to Annemarie and I’s party, and then join the custom Challenge we built.

Finally, we recognize that at face value, this prototype appears very systematic and would yield standardized writing. Therefore, using this in the classroom would require more explanation and emphasizing to students the flexibility of their writing process in conjunction with the framework we developed using a Habitica Challenge.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Olu Eletu via Unsplash.