Multimedia Text Sets and HyperDocs - What's the difference?

I often see educators sharing all kinds of digital lessons and calling them HyperDocs. I’ve also heard from so many that they see HyperDocs as just a doc with links or a webquest. It finally dawned on me, I realized that many were creating Multimedia Text Sets and thinking they were HyperDocs. The confusion is understandable and easy to clear up. 

Multimedia Text Sets

A Multimedia Text Set is a document with links to a variety of  different types of media. The instructional intention is to give students opportunities to explore content that has been curated for a specific purpose. When a student is learning on a Multimedia Text Set, they are consuming information. I like to think of it as taking all the resources that I would have used in a class lecture, package it on a Google Doc and give it to the students. Often I was told that I shouldn’t be lecturing so much, over-explaining. I needed to allow students to build agency for their learning, but I didn’t know how to accomplish all of that when I had so much content to deliver. By re-examining how I was delivering that content and utilizing tech as a solution, I was able to accomplish not only my initial goals, but so much more.  



A HyperDoc is a digital lesson using the Explore, Explain, Apply cycle of learning. It is a complete lesson rather than just an ‘exploration’ of a topic. In a HyperDoc, students move beyond just consuming information and engage in creating something based on what was learned. The lesson is given directly to students and can be delivered in a variety of ways. Students can work through a HyperDoc at their own pace, a teacher can guide the entire lesson, or it can be a combination. Since the teacher is the designer of the lesson, it can be all digital or blended, offering off tech and on tech tasks. A simple way to identify if a digital lesson is a HyperDoc is to see if the 4C’s (Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creating) are included for students to participate and complete. HyperDoc lessons are more than a digital worksheet depending on how the designer creates them. As you move through the HyperDoc academy, this will be explained in great detail along with many examples to explore. 


Why Start with Multimedia Text Sets?

The first time I gave a class a HyperDoc and asked them to just do the Explore section, I watched as the group did not understand how to learn with this new kind of digital lesson. I didn’t want to spend time over-explaining each section of the lesson, since one of the reasons I was delivering instruction with HyperDocs was to build student agency and independence for learning, yet I had assumed they understood how to explore content completely. What I witnessed was students racing through links, and  searching for the tasks in order to be done. 

I now use Multimedia Text Sets to teach my students more inquiry methods for learning, how to slow down and search for ideas and concepts that they find interesting, and to build curiosity and background knowledge for a topic before launching into the whole lesson. By asking students to explore a text set, I'm wanting them to break a cycle of learning that was based on task completion and doing things just for a grade. I spent time reflecting with students after experiencing a text set, asking them to consider the learning experience and how it affects their ability to engage, learn, and retain information. Multimedia Text Sets have become an important tool in not only sharing content, but also helping my students become better learners. Taking the time for this kind of instruction and reflection made all the difference when shifting to learning with HyperDocs. Multimedia Text Sets truly are the gateway to HyperDocs.  


Author: Lisa Highfill 04-06-2021