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  3. Blackboard – Perusall Social Annotation Tool

Blackboard – Perusall Social Annotation Tool

Perusall is a powerful teaching tool developed at Harvard University that is integrated with Blackboard. Perusall allows students and their instructors to collaboratively annotate and discuss a variety of files types uploaded by the instructor.

Instructors can create assignments that Perusall will grade automatically and it has engaging social media features such as likes and hashtags to make searching for topics easier.

Step 1: Create a Perusall Course Space - Always Start in Blackboard

Start In Blackboard

It is important that you and your students start the process in Blackboard as this allows your UVM credentials to link to Perusall. (Do not start at perusall.com)

Steps to set up your course space in Perusall

  1. Navigate to your Blackboard course.
  2. Edit your course menu to add a Content Area specifically for Perusall. Make sure it is available to students. Rearrange your new Perusall Content Area on your course menu to a logical position (drag the left-hand arrows that appear when you hover over menu items.).
  3. Click the Perusall link on the left course menu that you created in Step 2.
  4. Click Build Content > Web Link.
  5. Name the link “Perusall Home Page.”
  6. Use this as the URL: https://app.perusall.com/lti/launch
  7. You MUST check off the box for “This link is to a Tool Provider.”
  8. For this Perusall Home Page link, choose “No” for Enable Evaluation.
  9. Click Submit – this link takes you into Perusall.
  10. Within Perusall, it’s a good idea to take the “tour” to familiarize yourself with the platform. Then you can begin to add assignments and upload documents/videos to the Perusall library.

Perusall has published additional Blackboard Integration information.

Step 2: Add Content to Your Library

In order to create assignments, you first have to upload content into your Perusall library.

To do this, log into your course and open Perusall. From Perusall’s “Course home,” where it says Add content, choose the content type from the right side (see image). Read about the most commonly used options below this image:

  • Book from the Perusall catalog – Publishers sell books directly to students via the Perusall platform; not all texts are available. Note that some students need to purchase their course materials through the campus bookstore (e.g., some VA benefits, some scholarships). If you have a student in this situation, the UVM bookstore is able to sell codes to students on a case-by-case basis. Contact Bob Santry, Bookstore Manager (robert.santry@uvm.edu), to arrange for this option. Other students should be able to purchase directly from Perusall.
  • Web page – This (usually) works provided that the website is NOT behind or paywall or requiring a log in. If the page you want to link to is not behind a log-in or paywall, test it first, because some website layouts will not import cleanly. If that’s the case, try printing the page to a PDF and uploading it as a document from your computer.
  • Documents from my device – This includes Word documents, PDFs, Excel files, EPUB, and source code files in most languages.
  • Materials from another course – This is helpful if you have multiple sections reading the same material. Once you’ve uploaded the files to one of your courses, you can choose this option for quick access.
  • Video – As described, you can upload the URLs to videos on YouTube and other platforms. Additionally, UVM’s version of Perusall has been modified to accept content from UVM Streaming (streaming.uvm.edu) and OneDrive/Sharepoint where Teams recordings now are stored (office.com).
  • Podcast – Podcasts on their own limit accessibility to students, so they need to be sent to SAS via their captioning request form. SAS will convert them into a captioned video file which can be uploaded using the video option.
  • Folder – You can organize your content by folders if you wish.
  • Student upload folder – This new feature allows you to create a folder where students can upload files and seek feedback from others.

Step 3: Create a Perusall Assignment

(Note, assignments in Perusall do NOT use the Blackboard Assignment tool.)

Before you begin this part, be sure you’ve added content to the Perusall library described in Step 2.

First, decide whether the assignment will be ungraded or auto-graded by Perusall

The way that Perusall scores an auto-graded assignment is customizable. You can read more about scoring in Step 4. After reviewing the scores that Perusall has given to the submitted assignments, you can choose to “release” them to Blackboard where you will see them in the Grade Center and students will see them in My Grades (if you have allowed that column to be viewed by them).

  • Ungraded AssignmentsIf you are NOT using grading, students will use the link to Perusall that you initially created in Blackboard. This takes them to their Perusall course home page where they click on the library to view all content you’ve uploaded. Be sure to include clear directions in Blackboard about which content item they’re supposed to select to read/discuss in Perusall.
  • Auto-Graded AssignmentsFor auto-grading in Perusal, you’ll have to build a link to the specific assignment within Blackboard. That means that, in Blackboard, they’ll see a link to each article (or other type of content in Perusall) that takes them directly to that content in Perusall where they can work on that assignment. Please note: To avoid confusing students please hide the link within Blackboard that you initially made to the Perusall home page. Don’t delete it, just click Edit on that link in Blackboard, and turn off availability to students. This way students will only see the links to their assignments. They have to use the direct assignment links in order for auto-grading to work.Make an auto-graded assignment:
    1. Click on the Perusall link in Blackboard that you initially created.
    2. In Perusall go to “course home,” click on the Assignments Tab, and then click the green “Add Assignment” button.
    3. In the window that pops up, click in the “Content to Assign” field on the right, and choose the content (which you’ve previously uploaded to your Perusall Library).
    4. Click the green “Save Changes” button at the bottom right.
    5. This will take you to an options page for this assignment. Click the icon for “Copy full title for LMS” which copies it to the clipboard.
    6. Next, navigate back to Blackboard and click the Perusall link you’ve created on the left course menu.
    7. Click Build Content > Web Link.
    8. Paste what is in your clipboard, copied from Perusall, into the “Name” field.
    9. In the URL field enter this: https://app.perusall.com/lti/launch
    10. You MUST check off the box for “This link is to a Tool Provider” just under the URL field
    11. Choose “Yes” for “Enable Evaluation” and enter the points possible as 3. This is the default point value in Perusall. However, if you edit the points for an assignment within Perusall, you’ll enter the edited value here to match that.
    12. Enter a due date and description if you wish.
    13. Click Submit. This link goes to that specific Perusall Assignment. You will now see a corresponding column in your Blackboard Grade Center for this Perusall Assignment.

Make group assignments in Perusall:

  • When you click on “Add Assignment,” you’ll see a few tabs on the left of the pop up window. Choose “Options.”
  • Where it says “Assign to” you can choose “Specific students” and enter one or more students into the field that appears.
  • If you want to set up groups in advance, you do that in the course area “Settings.” This article from Perusall goes into more detail and includes a video tutorial about groups.

Step 4: Understand Scoring and Modify Scores

On the top of the scoring page, Perusall explains that it “…measures student engagement in six component areas, each of which has a target value from 0% to 100%. The target represents the maximum amount that a student can earn from that component. Targets can add up to more than 100% to provide students multiple ways to get to full credit. For each component, you can customize the overall target (set the target to 0% to ignore that component when computing student scores) and how students earn credit towards the target.”

This comprehensive guide—How Scoring Works [PDF}—from Perusall is the best place to start to understand how it works.
Modify how it scores in your course
Go to Settings > Scoring and move the sliders for each component as needed. (see image below)

View/Modify Individual Grades and Release them to Blackboard’s Grade Center

To enter grades in Blackboard, go to Perusall’s gradebook and click “release to students.” To edit a student grade, click on the pencil. To understand how Perusall graded a student, click their score.

Updated on September 19, 2022

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