Help! What Is a HyperDoc?

By: Jone Tiffany and Susan Forneris

Once again, the K-12 education community is in the lead on innovative teaching/learning strategies!

Educators are told that a revolution is coming, that we need to quit lecturing and infuse more active learning strategies in our teaching (Forneris, 2018; Stillman & Stillman, 2017). Since K-12 education has focused more on adapting to students, rather than having students learn to adapt to educators, there has never been a better time to re-examine the strategies we use in nursing education, strategies that range from classroom pedagogy to campus-wide technology initiatives.

First, we need to step off the stage and make learning contextual and interactive. so the learning can be retained and applied (David, 2017). This can be difficult for educators who have only experienced and utilized the teaching strategy of lecture. How can these educators begin to change the way they teach? Students in K-12 are tech savvy and are used to learning in a way other than the standard lecture format. How can we revolutionize higher education so that we no longer spend our time teaching to the test?

In their book Make It Stick, Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel (2014) discuss the brain neuropathways and how many common study habits and practice routines turn out to be counterproductive. Underlining and highlighting, rereading, cramming, and single-minded repetition of new skills create the illusion of mastery, but in reality, the knowledge acquired fades away quickly. More durable learning comes from self-testing, interactive learning, and interleaving the practice of one skill on topic with another.

Within these interactive teaching/learning strategies, one example is the HyperDoc, a student-centered digital document made up of live links, where all elements of an assignment are listed on one page. All components of the assignment, including pre-reading, introductory videos, group work, and evaluations, are included in this one page. Using a HyperDoc can be a good starting point for those educators who do not know where to begin.

A group of K-12 educators, Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis (2016), came up with the idea and coined the term HyperDoc to describe the document. They also published a book, The HyperDoc Handbook, to teach others their method for creating these lesson plans. The foreword to the book is written by student Jordan Moldenhauer, who suggests that teaching students to figure it out for themselves is very important. Seeing through the student lens is very important. Although student-centered has been an education buzzword for several decades, we still see too much teacher-centered instruction. We have to stop teaching content, dumping large amounts of content in the student’s lap. Rather, we need to teach the student to use the content we provide.

Through the HyperDocs website, Highfill, Hilton, and Landis provide comprehensive templates and instructions organized for easy navigation. The templates can be edited and are a good way to begin using this strategy.

H is for HyperDocsHOW DO I USE A HYPERDOC?

There are many ways to utilize the HyperDoc format.

  • One idea is called the Playlist. This particular way of using a HyperDoc is described by Jennifer Gonzalez in this article. The Playlist is set up as a series of activities and check-ins by the students and instructor. Students can decide how many items they will need to complete in order to have mastery of the topic. If they gain mastery quickly, they can move on.
  • Another idea is to utilize the variety of templates provided on the website. These templates utilize different styles such as the 5E model or the HyperDoc model, different ways to set up the learning activities. Rather than build your first HyperDoc from scratch, you may find more success by starting with a pre-made template.
  • Embed podcasts, videos, and interactive posters into the document. Make sure you orient students to the use of this teaching/learning strategy and take the time to demonstrate how it should be used. In addition, within the HyperDoc itself, provide clear directions for its use.
  • Make sure HyperDocs do not become online worksheets. Offer choices to students and design the document to allow students to work at their own pace. Give students options and choices such as reading or watching a video to cover the content. However, be careful not to overwhelm the students with too many choices. Choose resources wisely.


  • We have used HyperDocs as learning resources to prep nursing students for the flipped classroom or interactive classroom group work.
  • Set up your class lesson plan syllabus using HyperDocs – these can then later be used as review guides for course exams.
  • Nurse educator graduate students can use the HyperDoc as a template when designing an assignment for a group of students, using Blooms taxonomy to enhance verticality in the teaching/learning activity. See the following example for an assignment used with nurse educator graduate students.


  • All assignment components are located within one document.
  • The student can complete the task without the instructor, allowing for more face-to-face interaction with the instructor.
  • The document is easily changed or updated because it is entirely in a digital format. If the instructor wants to update the document or change links or videos, this is an easy task to complete. In addition, documents can be easily adapted if an individual student needs different materials. They are easily adapted to meet individual student needs.
  • This type of digital document is appealing to the type of learner who may be looking for easy access and a variety of media. It is easily adapted for auditory and/or visual learners through the use of images, videos and audio files, and links to textbooks or journal articles.
  • Because of the nature of this type of digital document, it can be shared with one student (if it is being individualized), a group of students, or an entire course.

All in all, this digital document is very adaptable and can be used for many assignments and in many different ways. Begin with one of the HyperDoc templates and edit away. Check it out to see if you could use HyperDocs as a way to set up your teaching/learning activities.


Brown, P., Roediger, H., & McDaniel, M. (2014). Make it stick: The science of successful learning. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

David, C. (2017). The new education: How to revolutionize the university to prepare students for a world in flux. New York, NY: Hachette Book Group.

Forneris, S. G. (2018). Stop lecturing.

Highfill, L., Hilton, K., & Landis, S. (2016) The HyperDoc handbook: Digital lesson design using Google apps. EdTechTeam Press.

Stillman, J. (2017). Gen Z @ work: How the next generation is transforming the workplace. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

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