Given that a Grothendieck topology is essentially about abstracting a notion of ‘covering’, it is not surprising that modified Čech methods can be applied. Artin and Mazur used Verdier’s idea of a hypercovering to get, for each Grothendieck topos, E, a pro-object in Ho(S) (i.e. an inverse system of simplicial sets), which they call the étale homotopy type of the topos E (which for them is ‘sheaves for the étale topology on a variety’). Applying homotopy group functors gives pro-groups πi(E) such that π1(E) is essentially the same as Grothendieck’s π1(E).
Grothendieck’s nice π1 has thus an interpretation as a limit of a Čech type, or shape theoretic, system of π1s of ‘hypercoverings’. Can shape theory be useful for studying ́etale homotopy type? Not without extra work, since the Artin-Mazur-Verdier approach leads one to look at inverse systems in proHo(S), i.e. inverse systems in a homotopy category not a homotopy category of inverse systems as in Strong Shape Theory.
One of the difficulties with this hypercovering approach is that ‘hypercovering’ is a difficult concept and to the ‘non-expert’ seem non-geometric and lacking in intuition. As the Grothendieck topos E ‘pretends to be’ the category of Sets, but with a strange logic, we can ‘do’ simplicial set theory in Simp(E) as long as we take care of the arguments we use. To see a bit of this in action we can note that the object  in Simp(E) will be the constant simplicial sheaf with value the ordinary , “constant” here taking on two meanings at the same time, (a) constant sheaf, i.e. not varying ‘over X’ if E is thought of as Sh(X), and (b) constant simplicial object, i.e. each Kn is the same and all face and degeneracy maps are identities. Thus  interpreted as an étale space is the identity map X → X as a space over X. Of course not all simplicial objects are constant and so Simp(E) can store a lot of information about the space (or site) X. One can look at the homotopy structure of Simp(E). Ken Brown showed it had a fibration category structure (i.e. more or less dual to the axioms) and if we look at those fibrant objects K in which the natural map
p : K → 
is a weak equivalence, we find that these K are exactly the hypercoverings. Global sections of p give a simplicial set, Γ(K) and varying K amongst the hypercoverings gives a pro-simplicial set (still in proHo(S) not in Hopro(S) unfortunately) which determines the Artin-Mazur pro-homotopy type of E.
This makes the link between shape theoretic methods and derived category theory more explicit. In the first, the ‘space’ is resolved using ‘coverings’ and these, in a sheaf theoretic setting, lead to simplicial objects in Sh(X) that are weakly equivalent to ; in the second, to evaluate the derived functor of some functor F : C → A, say, on an object C, one takes the ‘average’ of the values of F on objects weakly equivalent to G, i.e. one works with the functor
F′ : W(C) → A
(where W(C) has objects, α : C → C′, α a weak equivalence, and maps, the commuting ‘triangles’, and this has a ‘domain’ functor δ : W(C) → C, δ(α) = C′ and F′ is the composite Fδ). This is in many cases a pro-object in A – unfortunately standard derived functor theory interprets ‘commuting triangles’ in too weak a sense and thus corresponds to shape rather than strong shape theory – one thus, in some sense, arrives in proHo(A) instead of in Ho(proA).