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The Perusall Blog

Written by Michael Rosenberg, VP of Sales

December 30 2022

11 Ways to Excite your Students and Transform your Teaching

2022 was a defining year for Perusall. As a bootstrapped learning technology company, we depend on word-of-mouth promotion from one instructor to another. The success of our platform is not driven by an army of sales consultants, or an all-encompassing marketing machine, but from positive outcomes in Perusall courses. More than one million students were enrolled in Perusall courses this year. Our success is your success.

Group of a students studying in the university library

We listen closely to our instructor adopters, student users, and our institutional partners. Instructors tell us that their ability to understand what students are thinking about prior to the in-class session is transformational. Students have provided overwhelming support for their Perusall experiences highlighting the motivating effect of knowing what their peers are thinking about while completing their assignments. Institutions value their Perusall partnership because of our dedication to protecting data and student privacy. Our college and university partners also see an increasing number of Perusall courses and rising levels of student engagement within those courses.

Our adopters (students, instructors, and institutions) have told us that Perusall’s brand of social annotation has helped introduce active learning into courses of all types and sizes. Here are the top eleven ways Perusall helped excite students about their learning and transform the way instructors approached their courses.

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1. Active Learning and Social Annotation with a wide range of course materials.

Instructors can choose to assign books from Perusall’s catalog of 850,000+ titles or many other items such as:

  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Other audio
  • Websites
  • PDF documents
  • EPUB documents
  • Word documents
  • Images
  • PowerPoint slides

2. Accommodating a variety of assignment types

Instructors have many options for creating assignments:

  • Single-part assignments
  • Multi-part assignments
  • Multi-modal assignments
  • Differentiated assignments (different assignments for each group in a course)
  • Peer review assignments
  • Incorporating quizzing into assignments (Multiple choice, numeric, short answer)

3. Expanding the opportunities for students to interact socially while completing an assignment

 Students using Perusall work in a social learning environment that is familiar and inviting. They help each other solve problems, deepen understanding, and find community through these social features:

  • Having a personal avatar when engaging with assignments
  • Indications when more than one student is online at the same time
  • Direct messaging among students
  • Direct messaging between students and the instructor
  • Having questions highlighted and promoted as a potential source of confusion in an assignment
  • Upvoting student comments as a source of encouragement and re-engagement with the assignment

4. Saving time with an optional autoscoring system


The autoscoring system is designed to provide flexibility in both aligning with an instructor’s assessment philosophy and in choosing how to evaluate student performance with any assignment. Instructors may choose to reward students for the following actions:

  • Writing an expected number of annotations that inform or propel discussions
  • Returning to the assignment more than once
  • Reading/viewing/listening to the entire assignment
  • Engaging with the assignment from beginning to end
  • Writing comments or asking questions that elicit responses from other students
  • Writing comments that are upvoted or upvoting other student comments
  • Responding to quiz questions

5. Managing an abundance of student engagement with gradebook tools


Perusall helps instructors manage student activity efficiently with a gradebook that is designed to efficiently organize assignment results:

  • Editing assignments, extending deadlines, and checking on the status of assignments can be done within the gradebook
  • Multiple options for timing the release of grades to students
  • Automatically averaging scores for all assignments
  • Easily adjusting assignment scores manually
  • Adding comments to individual student scores
  • Viewing the details of each grade calculation from the autoscoring system
  • Reviewing a complete analysis of student engagement for each assignment on a single page
  • Adjusting the gradebook to accommodate templated, master/model, or blueprint courses

6. Managing an abundance of student engagement with our course management tools


Create a set of reports that provide insights into student activity within each assignment with the following details:

  • Scan student comments quickly by class, group, or individual student
  • Review grade distribution for each assignment
  • See a page review report providing insights into student reading activity within an assignment
  • View a report of quiz performance across an entire class, including commonly missed questions and common incorrect answers
  • Quickly review an individual student or class performance with the details of their social activity including word count and average words per annotation

7. Using additional pedagogical tools through the Perusall platform


The following features are intended to promote student engagement and save time when creating Perusall courses:

  • Searching your library and roster instantly
  • Discovering the digital rights status for articles and book chapters through the Copyright Clearance Center
  • Requiring students to respond to a prompt before seeing other student comments
  • Importing groups automatically from your LMS
  • Grading options that are flexible
  • Adding teaching assistants with appropriate levels of access to student information
  • Making changes to multiple library items and assignments with a single click
  • Exporting data from your course including library items, student annotations, course information, and all assignment activity.


Perusall makes it easy for students to fully engage with their assignments, provide help to other students, and create a community of learners:

8. Participating actively in learning


  • Accessing assignment instructions easily while working
  • Learning how to highlight and annotate publicly with intuitive, easy-to-understand steps
  • Direct messaging peers with @ in a comment or clicking on a student avatar
  • Clicking on question marks to promote questions
  • Clicking on checkmarks to upvote student comments
  • Reviewing grade updates while working through assignments

9. Completing assignments more easily


  • Accessing dropdown options eliminates other student highlighting from the text
  • Downloading assignments with comments
  • Getting notifications when other students upvote annotations
  • Quickly maneuvering around an assignment with search tools
  • Keeping private notes
  • Using the read aloud feature to listen to an assignment while adding comments
  • Easily communicating with students in your group
  • Getting quick responses when seeking help at



Protecting data and student privacy is at the core of our partnerships with institutions. We also provide superior training and support for centers for teaching and learning, academic technology, and online learning departments. Perusall provides a safe learning experience for instructors and students through in the following ways:

10. Protecting the social learning environment for students and instructors


Perusall provides a safe learning experience for instructors and students by meeting strict security standards in the following ways:

  • LTI 1.3 integrations available for most learning management systems
  • Adherence to the WCAG 2.1 standards for accessibility
  • FERPA compliant
  • Aligned with the NIST Cybersecurity Framework

11. Benefiting from a Perusall partnership


An institutional license with Perusall includes an array of benefits including:

  • Training for staff and workshops for faculty
  • Customizing dashboards for administrators
  • Using the Perusall platform for on-campus events
  • Guarantying turnaround times for customer support
  • Guarantying platform performance rates


Did I Miss Something?

I would appreciate hearing from you. Did I miss a feature that excites your students or helped transform your teaching? Please let me know by emailing and/or share this post through your favorite social media channel.


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