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Perusall is a free “social annotation” tool that helps students engage with course material in class groups. Instructors can create reading or viewing assignments in which students create & share their own annotations and respond to each other’s comments & questions. Perusall informs instructors of the concepts that generate the most student questions & discussion, and Perusall assignments can be automatically scored based on instructor-determined engagement parameters. Perusall also reminds students of incomplete assignments, prompting higher rates of completion and preparedness.

When to use Perusall?

If any of the following goals are applicable to you, you may consider using Perusall:

  • Encourage students to complete reading assignments prior to class
  • Encourage students to raise questions and have discussions around the reading assignments
  • Gauge students’ level of understanding of certain concepts
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of certain reading materials

Perusall is a 3rd party application that integrates with Canvas. Assignments can be graded automatically and will sync with the Canvas gradebook. Contact to install Perusall into your Canvas course. When the app is installed, follow the directions below to set up your assignments.

Setting Up Perusall Assignments
Grades will only sync in Canvas if students access Perusall assignments directly from a Canvas assignment, not through the Canvas navigation button option. In most cases, you can start by creating either the Canvas assignment or the Perusall assignment, but for grades to sync they must both have exactly the same name. Follow directions below to set up a Canvas assignment with Perusall activation.
Creating the Canvas Assignment
  1. Navigate to the Assignments section of your course and click the + Assignment button.
  2. Enter the assignment’s name and other information such as Points, Assignment Group, and Assign settings.
  3. For Submission Type, select External Tool from the dropdown box.
  4. The options shown will change. Click the Find button.
  5. A popup will appear. Find and select Perusall from the list, then click the Select button
  6. You can optionally set Perusall to load in a new tab, instead of within the Canvas interface. This is sometimes useful if content is not loading correctly.
  7. Save/Save & Publish the assignment.
Creating the Perusall Assignment
  1. Access the Perusall interface either through the Course Navigation Menu or by opening an assignment that uses Perusall. (Use Canvas assignment if syncing grades).
  2. Select Course home from the main navigation menu if you are not already there.
  3. From the options across the top, select Documents. You must add a document for students to read before assigning it. If you’ve already added documents, you can skip steps 3 and 4.
  4. Click the + Add button on the right, then select the type of document you wish to add from the dropdown menu. You can upload your own documents, select from available textbooks (students will need to purchase the textbook on the platform), or even import web page articles. Once you’ve added a document, you can use it for an assignment.

Course Home

  1. From the same menu at the top, select Assignments and click the + Assignment button.
  2. Follow the steps by selecting the content to assign, setting a submission deadline, assignment name, and adding any relevant instructions for students. When you’re done, click the Save changes button.
  3. Remember that to sync grades with Canvas, both the Canvas and Perusall assignments need to have exactly the same name. Once the assignment is created, Perusall provides a button to copy the name to make it easy to paste into the assignment name in Canvas. From the same menu, you can also open the assignment, edit settings, view analytics, or delete it.
Perusall in Your Course’s Navigation

If you want Perusall to appear in your course’s navigation menu, you can activate it like any other course navigation item. Remember: if students access Perusall thorugh the course navigation menu, rather than through specific assignments, Perusall will not be able to sync grades to the Canvas gradebook. Activating this menu item is not recommended if you’d like grades to sync.

  1. In your Canvas course, click on Settings from the Course Navigation Menu, then Navigation from the tabs across the top.
  2. Find the Perusall option and click on its options button to the right.
  3. Select Enable from the menu.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Save button

In the video above, Gary King, co-founder of Perusall, provides an overview of Perusall, shares why he believes it outclasses traditional solitary reading tasks, and describes the components of a more engaging reading experience.