How do you facilitate and assess reading in your classes? If this tends to be a struggle, you might consider a collaborative eReader, Perusall, that lets students mark up their assigned readings with questions or comments and auto-grades their participation.
As an Instructional Designer, I often come across cool new tools that claim to enhance student learning or ease the teaching burden but it rarely works out. After a closer look, they’re too costly, too cumbersome, or they just fail to deliver. Perusall has been a pleasant exception to this norm—it’s free, it’s fairly easy to use with eLearning Canvas, and it’s pedagogically sound!
The foundation of Perusall is bringing social connectivity to reading, a previously isolated part of learning. The eReader platform facilitates a deep reading experience by grouping students into small learning communities for each assignment. They can then annotate directly on the document to post comments or questions, in addition to experiencing the text through the lens of their classmates. Instructors can also annotate the research article or textbook to provide critical thinking prompts.
Perusall was developed at Harvard University as a way of facilitating more Peer Instruction, which you may remember as the keynote topic of Interface 2015. In their study (Miller et al., 2018), they found that Perusall was associated with increased student reading time per week and better exam grades. Features that are thought to contribute to this include upvoting, e-mail nudging, and the confusion report which summarizes questions for instructors.
Oftentimes we try to replicate the traditional learning experience in the online environment, but Perusall assignments are an example of reimagined course design for an improved learning experience, not just an equivalent one. Please visit our UF Instructional Tools page on Perusall to learn more about how to integrate Perusall into your eLearning Canvas course. You can also request a consultation.