Last updated: August 12, 2020

Perusall is a social annotation tool that integrates with Blackboard Learn. Perusall allows faculty and students to collaboratively markup documents, videos, websites, and more! Instead of reading a document and discussing it, Perusall brings the discussion to the text.

For faculty who are new to Perusall, please read the “Getting Started” below. For more information on teaching courses with Perusall, faculty are encouraged to check out the Perusall website. Students can also turn to the Perusall website for information on how to use this social annotation tool.

Getting Started

The Perusall Group Annotation tool allows you to add a direct link to Perusall from your Blackboard Learn course. The Perusall Group Annotation tool is located under Tools in Course Menu. Click the tool to launch Perusall, this will create a new course in Perusall that maps to your course in Blackboard. Students will click this link to launch into your Perusall course from Blackboard, this will automatically create a student account (recommended).  

To make the Perusall Group Annotation tool more accessible you can add a direct link to the Course Menu or Content Area.

To add a link to the course menu:

  1. Ensure editing is turned on.
  2. Select the Add Menu Item icon above the course menu to open the menu.
  3. Click the Tools Link, select Perusall Group Annotation and type a name.
  4. Select the Available to Users check box if you're ready for students to see it. You can create content ahead of time, hide the link, and then show the link at the appropriate time.
  5. Select Submit. A link to the new content appears on the course menu.

To add a link to the content area:

  1. Ensure editing is turned on.
  2. Identify the link location in the course content area.
  3. Select Tools > More Tools > Perusal Group Annotation.
  4. Complete any the required text boxes and click Submit.

This is the only link you need to add if you are not syncing the Perusall grades with Blackboard. Your students should only access the Perusal course using this link, or an assignment web link, from Blackboard. 

To add content to your course library: 

  1. Click on Library on your course home page.
  2. Click Add content and select the material type (e.g., Documents from my computer, Documents from Dropbox, Web page, etc.).
  3. Complete the required information.

To add an assignment to your course:

  1. Click on Assignments on your course home page.
  2. Click Add assignment and select the document you want to assign.
  3. Select the part of the document to assign, specify a deadline, and click Save changes

Learn more about managing assignments on the Perusall website.

If you choose to sync your Perusall grades with Blackboard you will need to create a Web Link for each assignment in Perusall. For each assignment you create in Perusall, create a corresponding Web Link in Blackboard.

To create an assignment link:

  1. Create an assignment in Perusall. Record the exact name of the Perusall assignment. 
  2. Turn on editing in your Blackboard course.
  3. Select Build Content > Web Link.
  4. Enter the Perusall assignment name.
  5. Enter the following URL: https://app.perusall.com/lti/launch
  6. Check “This is a Tool Provider” and “Enable Evaluation.”
  7. Click Submit.

To test that the assignment linkage works, launch the assignment in Blackboard and ensure that you are taken to the correct assignment in Perusall — you should bypass the course home page in Perusall when clicking on a Perusall assignment from Blackboard.

To set course policies:

  • Navigate to Settings > General to set overall course policies about assignment availability and scoring.
  • Navigate to Settings > Grouping to manage discussion groups. Learn more about groups
  • Navigate to Settings > Scoring to determine how Perusall will generate engagement scores.
  • Navigate to Settings > Advanced to adjust fine-grained course options.

Perusall will automatically score a student’s assignment based on a computer algorithm that rates their engagement with the assignment. The student’s engagement is scored based on six different components that are combined into a single score, and is designed to encourage the student to engage in behaviors that research shows predict positive learning outcomes. 

An instructor can control which components are used to rate student’s engagement (Settings > Scoring). Each of the six components has a target that can be set from 0 to 100, and represents the maximum credit that the student can earn from that component. The student’s score on each of the six targets is summed; a final score of 100 or above will be translated to the maximum possible assignment score (which you can change in Settings > Advanced), and final scores between 0 and 100 will be scaled to the assignment score range.

You can set the targets so that they add to more than 100, which indicates that students can earn full credit in multiple ways. This is encouraged to reduce pressure on students and allow them to focus on the interactions not the final grade. Setting a target to 0 means that the corresponding component will not be incorporated into the engagement score.

You may prefer that students either get credit or no credit for each Perusall assignment (i.e., pass/fail scoring). To do this, enable the “threshold scoring” option under Settings > Advanced. If a threshold is present, then all scores in the Gradebook will either appear as 1 (meets threshold) or 0 (does not meet threshold). For example, if you keep the default assignment score scale of 0-3 and set a threshold of 2, then students’ scores will show as a 1 if their score would have been a 2 or 3, and will show as a 0 if their score would have been a 0 or 1.

Student work in Perusall is graded automatically but you can always override the annotation scores provided by Perusall. 

The Scoring & Grades section of the company website provides additional information.

Perusall automatically groups students in the course into smaller “discussion groups.” Students will only see the comments of other students in their group, plus any threads that an instructor has started.

Each document has a different set of groups formed, so students have an opportunity to interact with different people over the course of the semester. Groups for a particular document are fixed once the document is uploaded, to ensure students have a consistent view of each document.

The number of groups formed depends on the enrollment estimate and target group size, both of which can be updated through the course settings (Settings > Grouping). However, note that since the groups are fixed, changing these settings will not affect the groups for any documents already added to the course; they will instead take effect going forward for any documents uploaded after that point.

As a consequence of this, if a student is the first one in their group to comment on a particular document, then they won’t see any other comments in the document even though other students in the class may have also started commenting. This is normal; they should start to see other students’ comments as others in their group start reading and commenting on the document as well.

If you prefer to manually place students into groups, you can do so under Settings > Grouping. Here you can manually assign students to groups by entering a group number next to each student in your roster. For example, to place students A, B, C, and D into two groups, you could assign students A and B to group 1 and students C and D to group 2. Students that enroll in your course after you set the groups will be placed into one of the groups at random, but you can change this in the Grouping Options at any time.

Checkout How do groups work? on the Perusall website for more information. 

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