Hypothes.is is an online tool that allows people to directly annotate “news, blogs, scientific articles, books, terms of service, ballot initiatives, legislation, and more” (Hypothes.is). The implications for this kind of tool range from scientific breath throughs to book clubs. When looking at their website and watching the tutorial videos, I thought about all the ways in which this tool could be used in both my personal and professional life. I think this tool would be perfect for all of our leadership programs, but our Serving Leader program in particular could really be enhanced by utilizing this service. Serving Leader is a leadership program within my organization that is provided to employees who are in a formal leadership role or those who work directly with leaders on a daily basis. The program consists of 5 full day sessions, monthly workshops, and one-to-one meetings. The purpose of the program is to teach the Serving Leader principles, which state that leaders are there to serve their employees and in turn the customer. This model of leadership “flips the pyramid” and rather than the leader being “on top,” they set the foundation and make sure that all barriers to success are removed so that their employees can thrive. If you are interested in learning more about Servant Leadership, you can go here.

Before the start of the program, we were told to read two scholarly journals and a book called, “The Serving Leader” by Kenneth Jennings and John Stahl-Wert. We were instructed to read these texts individually before the first full day session. Although I got a lot out of reading these texts and there was mild discussion throughout the two training days about them, I think they could have been way more impactful if we had utilized a tool like Hypothes.is. The participants in this program come from a variety of experiences and I would have really valued seeing their annotations on all the texts.  I believe the benefits of using this tool for Serving Leader would have been twofold: (1) it would have given us the opportunity to share our thoughts and ideas before the first full day session, which would have fostered a learning and sharing community before we even physically met one another and (2) it would have provided us with a platform to gather and document our ideas so that we could reference them.

Hypothes.is could be used in our future Serving Leader cohorts so that they can have the benefits stated above. It could be a requirement to make at least one annotation and respond to one person’s annotation to ensure that participants are both actively reading the texts and engaging in a dialogue. When participants meet for their first full day session, they could be asked to pick one person’s annotation that they found useful, interesting, or made them think differently. Hypothes.is could also be implemented in the monthly workshops. There are about 30 participants total in the program, but only about 6-10 participants in each monthly workshop (there are multiple workshop dates, times, and locations throughout the month to accommodate schedules). Each workshop group could use Hypothes.is to annotate the month’s topic so that other participants could see that group’s findings and discussions. It would be a way to keep the group connected throughout the entire program. This tool could be used in a similar way for our other leadership programs.

Like many healthcare organizations, we are a large company with multiple departments and locations. It can be easy to create silos and difficult to create connections amongst so many different groups of people, despite working for the same organization. A tool like Hypothes.is could give employees the opportunity to connect professionally and personally. Although many argue that technology has created divides among people, a tool like Hypothes.is reminds us that technology has the power to forge powerful connections with lasting impacts.

Hypothes.is. About Us. Accessed 9 Feb. 2019.

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Stacy · February 9, 2019 at 4:47 pm

This is a very thoughtful response. This annotation tool seems like it would add great value to HR training programs in large organizations that require peer-review for scholarly work. I agree with you that staying connected in between meetings/classes and collaborating with students not in your cohort definitely makes learning more meaningful.

Danielle Martin · February 9, 2019 at 5:29 pm

Hi Michele,
I like how you stated that this technology tool could create connections among peers that work within your corporation. Using Hypothes.is would be very beneficial for your Serving Leader program to share ideas and create meaningful connections.

Suzanne · February 12, 2019 at 9:28 pm


I completely agree with you about using Hypthes.is while reading journals and books. Even if the option was to use it after you read it on your own to formulate your own ideas and opinions. I stated in my blog that we use annotation tools at work because all of the instructional designers at my firm work remotely and it make everything so much easier if we leave comments in real time and address the concerns in real time about edits. Great blog!

Phil · February 13, 2019 at 9:15 pm

Nice connection to the Servant Leadership program. In particular, I like how you explain how the social affordances of hypothesis could have made your discussion of the readings more impactful. On a broader level, it also points to the value of conceptualizing annotation as a social practice, which can then also be used to build knowledge (e.g., learning communities).

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