One of the newer Blackboard integrations here at College of DuPage is Perusall. Perusall is a tool that helps students more efficiently and effectively complete their reading assignments for your course. It allows them to ask questions, motivates them to complete work, and can even advise you as the instructor on ways to make course time more productive.
Sound interesting? Here, we’ll explain a bit more about how Perusall works, how to get it set up, and why you might want to use it in your courses.
What Is Perusall?
Perusall is a third party platform integrated with Blackboard that allows instructors to set up readings for students that they can annotate, comment on, and ask questions about. Essentially, instead of having students read materials for the course outside of blackboard, Perusall integrates everything into one place and adds some additional social media-like features that are designed to help get more out of their course readings and keep them motivated. These include:
- Liking comments
- Linking URLs to Comments
- Study Groups
Perusall also provides features that are instructor specific, like confusion reports, automatic grading, and more.
How Do You Use Perusall?
Perusall is already integrated in Blackboard, so there is no administrator setup required to get started. However, you will need to set up your individual courses to use this tool. You’ll want to first create a web link to Perusall.
Enter Perusall for the Name and use “https://app.perusall.com/lti/launch” as the URL. Make sure “This is a Tool Provider” is selected. Now return to your course and click on this link to launch Perusall and create a new course in Perusall that maps to your course in Blackboard. Once you have done this, students can also click this link to launch into your Perusall course from Blackboard.
Once you have the link in place, you’ll need to create assignments. Here is a video from Perusall that explains that process.
You can learn more about setting up Perusall on their support page.
Perusall works with a number of publishers to make textbooks available to purchase through them and students can then access their texts for the course right in the Perusall platform (here’s a full list of what’s currently available). However, you are also able to upload your own materials as long as you are either the copyright holder or have permission to use the documents in your course (like, say, things you have access to through our institution).
When Can Perusall Be Useful?
Perusall can be a great way to help students get more out of their readings and to make them more social than solitary, which can be an excellent feature for online learning or courses where discussion is a key part of the learning process. You can use Perusall for:
- Collective reading and discussion. Students can make notes and talk with each other about the readings in Perusall. This gives students a chance to ask questions, share thoughts, and engage with each other in a way that they usually don’t while completing reading assignments.
- Getting a better understanding of student struggles and pain points. Students can also note places in the readings that confuse or frustrate them. This lets you know where you need to provide additional support and also gives other students a chance to take on the role of teacher. Perusall provides “confusion reports” as well, that highlight both the parts students found most interesting and most difficult. You can touch on these topics in live sessions or address them right in the Perusall platform.
- Increasing student participation. Getting students to talk to each other, especially in courses where they may not have met in person can be a challenge. Perusall provides a low-stakes way to get students talking and discussing course content outside of the traditional discussion boards or live sessions. If you want to push it further, Perusall provides a deeper scoring system for participation scores, and will automatically score students (this is optional).
- Let your shy students shine. Not every student wants to share in Collaborate or in class. Some may not speak English as a first language, be shy, or simply not like participating in that way. Perusall gives them another option to participate on their terms.
- Take notes for later. Aside from the social features of Perusall, students also have the option to take private notes on the readings which they can use later to study or review the material.
Have questions? Check out the resources below or contact us for help!