Perusall

Perusall is social learning platform for reading and annotating. Developed at Harvard University and integrated with Blackboard, Perusall allows instructors to upload course materials and create auto-graded assignments. When students read/watch the assigned article or other file type, they can annotate it and discuss it with each other.

Research shows that when students do their pre-class readings, and when they have the opportunity to discuss the material, it increases their understanding of the concepts, inspires them to participate more in class, and ultimately helps them perform better on exams (Miller, et al. 2018 ).

Teaching ideas

  • Upload a variety of materials—PDFs, Word documents, Excel files, videos, images, ePub ebooks, and some websites—and assign your students to read, annotate, and discuss the materials with each other.
  • To get students started with Perusall, upload your syllabus and ask students to annotate it with questions, comments on the topics that they’re most interested in, or suggested additional readings. Ask them to respond to one another’s remarks, answering questions if possible.
  • You can create a special folder into which students can upload their own writings and have their peers give them feedback.
  • Before students start their own writing assignment, you can upload sample work from a past student (with their name redacted) and ask students to evaluate it based on the rubric you’ll use for their version of that assignment.
  • Upload a captioned video your lecture and ask students to post insights, connections to the reading, or questions and ask them to answer each others’ questions.

UVM has a Perusall license and for the tool to work in sync with Blackboard, it MUST be initiated within a Blackboard course (not on the Perusall website directly). This platform is secure, FERPA compliant, and ad-free.

The introductory video at right is from co-founder and Harvard professor Gary King. NOTE: He references the Perusall website which is informative, but remember, when you set it up for your own course, you’ll have to do it within in your Blackboard course.

How to set it up

Instructions for setting up and using Perusall are on the UVM Knowledge Base, Blackboard – Perusall Social Annotation Tool.

References

Miller, K., Lukoff, B., King, G., and Mazur, E. (2018.) Use of a social annotation platform for pre-class reading assignments in a flipped introductory physics class. Frontiers in Education, 3(8). https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2018.00008