CostPerusall is completely free when instructors upload their own materials (e.g. PDFs) into the platform. They also offer 400,000 book titles from leading publishers for purchase through the platform. 

What it is: Perusall (www.perusall.comis a “social e-reader" developed primarily by instructors at Harvard who were trying to solve the problem of student engagement with reading. They recognized that only around 20-30 percent of their students were doing the readings, and they did not want to resort to reading quizzes that neither learners nor instructors enjoy. With Perusall, they set about to reimagine classroom reading with three aims: 

  • Make reading a collective, social experience instead of a solitary endeavor. 
  • Change education so that all students do the reading and come to class prepared and motivated. 
  • Advance behavioral science and AI research in the service of advancing education. 

So how does it work? Instructors can set up a class space in Perusall into which they can upload any course materials that they have copyright access to (generally anything apart from books). Students are then able to annotate the documents together, adding comments or questions to the text and in threads to each other as they read. This creates a live text experience for students, opening up possibilities for rich conversation of the text both in and out of class time itself. 

The developers have found that with Perusall around 90 percent of their students do the readings each week. With Perusall, students can be intrinsically, socially motivated as well as extrinsically motivated by graded participation based on the quality of their engagement. The developers have found that classroom interactions are moved to a higher level because of student engagement in Perusall. 

Integration with Brightspace: Perusall integrates with Brightspace. (This would need to be set up by the ODL in order to work properly). This means that the student enrollment for each class can be sent directly from Brightspace to Perusall, giving your students direct access to the course in Perusall. Students would not need to create an account with Perusall, but could enter it directly from Brightspace. Additionally, if desired, grades can sent from Perusall to Brightspace. 

How to use it (instructors): Perusall claims that it takes about 15 minutes for an instructor to set up a session for their semester. Once the basic session is set up, instructors can add (drag and drop) course readings that they have the rights to (e.g. syllabus, e-reserves, biblical texts, web pages, word documents, etc.). Instructors can also set up separate groups so that, for example, precepts read the texts together instead of alongside the entire class. In the text, yellow highlights represent comments by students and blue highlights represent comments by the instructor. Instructors can also star comments for later review, and both instructors and students can add private notes to the document as well. Here’s more detailed information about how to get set up in PerusallInstructor help for Persall. 

How to use it (students): When students enter the course session in Perusall, they will be able to read their assigned readings and annotate the texts with their peers. They can comment on the text itself or can reply to another student's comment or question as part of a longer thread (discussion). Here’s more detailed information about the student experience in PerusallStudent help for Perusall. 

Frequently Asked Questions (from the Perusall Terms of Service) 

What are my rights over content I post to Perusall? 

You retain complete control over your content. If instructors request that their courses be completely deleted, we do not retain any information, including posts, from them. Instructors have complete control over the content displayed and can remove the content of any post at any time. 

Are my class' annotations accessible via a search engine? 

No, your class' annotations are not available or accessible via search engines. 

Is content I copy to Perusall accessible by anyone outside of my class? 

No. The only people who can see content posted by instructors, or posts written by students, are those given access by the instructor. If you have permission to distribute content to your students, you may distribute this information through Perusall. No one else will see it. 

Students who do an especially good job of writing annotations may, in special cases, be given the option of sharing a small number of their (high quality) annotations with other classes using the same reading material, as a way of sparking conversation in those classes. If students give such permission, the information is de-identified before using in other classes. 

Can I use Perusall for purposes outside of classes? 

Yes, Perusall has been used successfully to obtain feedback on your written work or to give students feedback on their work. Businesses may also use Perusall for teaching training courses.