Perusall is approved for academic use and is integrated with LMS.

What is Perusall?

Perusall is a social annotation tool that allows students, instructors, and TAs to markup readings (e.g., documents) or videos collaboratively. It brings class discussion directly into the learning artifacts.

What is the purpose of Perusall?

Perusall allows users to annotate learning materials collaboratively, responding to others’ questions and comments. 

  • Students read the assigned material at their convenience and can respond to each others’ comments or questions. It turns course readings into social experiences. Students can use Perusall to ask questions directly to the instructor as well.
  • Students can upvote each others’ comments or questions so that the instructor can easily see where there are points of confusion or where a passage might need to be explained in a different way. 
  • Comments and questions are connected to specific passages within the learning materials, which eliminates the ambiguity that sometimes occurs with discussion board posts.

Perusall helps students prepare for class, by engaging with materials and each other before a lecture. Therefore:

  • More time can be spent on higher-order skills (analyzing, creating, evaluating) during class time through active learning activities.
  • The tool moves tasks, such as pre-readings, that are usually completed individually as an isolated activity to a social experience.

Why use Perusall?

The primary value of Perusall is as an annotation tool allowing students to work in artifacts asynchronously, while making meaning collectively, reflecting the LTE principle of supporting student learning to be active and social.

Specifically designed for higher education learning, Perusall:

  • is an easy fit into any disciplinary area,
  • can be used with PDFs of articles, problem-sets, Open Educational resources, Word documents, videos, web pages, code - essentially anything you have the right to use,
  • puts students into groups so individual activity in a reading can become a collective learning activity,
  • encourages preparation for class through interaction and engagement with course material and peers,
  • reports on points of confusion and overviews of upvoted comments and questions provide information for instructors for follow-up lectures or labs,
  • can be used for assignments with grades, automatically calculated based on two different options, individual scores or holistic grading.

Learning Technology Ecosystem (LTE) Principles

Perusall most directly address these LTE goals:

Designed to enable connection Learners exist in accessible networks, and connect to the experiences, concepts, people, and ideas that they need.


Best Practices



 Use for collaborative discussion with content annotation with a guided focus.

 Not recommended for testing or high-stakes purposes.

 Encourage students to prepare activities or task in class by pre-reading materials and interacting with peers.

 Not recommended for synchronous use. (e.g., during class time) 

 Support a flipped classroom approach.


 Review the confusion report to support student learning.


Support for Perusall

Technical Support

(Why isn't this working?)

Vendor Supported


Training Support

 (How do I learn to use this tool?)

  Vendor Supported



Teaching Support

 (How do I teach with this tool?) 


Tool Evaluation

Technologies are evaluated based on their alignment with the Learning Technologies Ecosystem Principles.  Click to see explanations of each principle and a justification of the rating. You can also view a complete blank rubric to see more details or read about the assessment process.

Learning must be found easily at any time, and all learners and teachers have equitable access, regardless of culture, language, ability etc. 
More Information

Rating: Works well

  • Accessibility standards:
  • Cost of use for USask students:
    • All aspects of the tool can be used free of charge, provided students have copyright clearance to access the items posted in Perusall.
    • Requires typical equipment that students and instructors are likely to have access to.
  • Platform/device:
    • Users can use the tool with any standard, up-to-date device and/or browser, however use is challenging on smaller screens.
  • Offline Access:
    • Instructors can enable downloading of some materials, however the collaborative aspect of annotations is not accessible offline. See Perusall for details.

Learning is a process of meaning-making, constructed through learning with others, and as a part of an intentional, deliberate system within a course and across experiences.
More Information

Rating: Works well

  • Collaboration:
    • Strength of the tool is the collaborative interaction with materials and peers.The tool supports a community of learning through asynchronous opportunities to communicate in groups, and make transfer of meaning between users. See Active Learning and Perusall, University of Groningen.

  • Sharing:
    • All comments and questions posted by students are visible to the instructor and the student’s group or class.
    • The tool allows for download/ transfer and reposting, so sharing and/or reuse is possible but not a key part of functionality.

Learning is refined and extended through prompted and supported opportunities to focus on understanding and next steps.
More Information

Rating: Works well

  • Reflection and revision:
    • Through instructor’s prompted in annotated comments, learning can be extended within the discussion, then extended in follow-up lectures and synchronous opportunities.
    • The tool is designed to allow annotation or versioning as a part of core functionality. Iterations can be easily shared and commented on by the creator as a part of core functions.

Learning is most effective when systems are designed to help learners find, create, and/or repurpose significant content for the value of themselves and others.
More Information

Rating: Moderate concerns

  • Creating:
    • The tool is designed for easy generation of content that can be manipulated and reused.

  • File format:
    • The tool allows for downloading of readings by students, however not the annotations themselves.

Learners create and control spaces for learning, understanding and retaining ownership, and purposefully choosing how and when they share.
More Information

Rating: Works well

  • Archiving, saving, and exporting data:
    • There are limitations to archiving, saving, or importing/exporting content or activity data. 
    • Annotations can be exported as CSV files by instructors.
    • Students can download most materials for viewing offline (except books and textbooks).

  • Data privacy and ownership:
    • Users maintain ownership and copyright of their intellectual property/data.
    • Perusall does not sell or share personal student data with publisher partners.
    • For more, see Perusall’s Privacy Policy
  • Sign Up/Sign In:
    • Single sign-in by logging into their Canvas course using Perusall.

  • Customization:
    • Tool is easy to customize to suit the classroom context and targeted learning outcomes.

Learners need to work in a system that is fluid and requires a minimum number of steps in systems that are intuitive and integrated.
More Information

Rating: Works well

  • Interface:
    • As its integrated into Canvas, the tool is user-friendly with a simple drop-down menu of annotation choices for students and instructors. 
    • It is easy for instructors and students to become skillful and personalize the tool.
  • Functionality:
    • Users can use all functions of the tool within the LMS without need for an external account or additional login steps.
    • It can be accessed by mobile and desktop.
    • The tool can be accessed via the Canvas app; size of the device dictates ease of use for viewing documents and making annotations at the same time.

Learners exist in accessible networks, and connect to the experiences, concepts, people, and ideas that they need.
More Information

Rating: Works well

  • Scale: 
    • The tool can be scaled to accommodate any size class with the flexibility to create smaller sub-groups or communities of practice.
  • Flexibility of Media:
    • The tool allows users to communicate through different channels (audio, visual, textual) however users must move through content or process in proscribed ways.

  • Engagement:
    • Instructors who want to provide active learning opportunities and responses to student learning behaviors get good information and an easy channel to interact within.

Learning and feedback are iterative, and assessment comes from multiple sources, including self, peers, teachers, and outside experts.
More Information

Rating: Works well

  • Feedback:
    • This tool is designed to support commenting on the quality of discussion by others. Feedback is stored with the content as part of the discussion, is easy to view and act on, and can occur more than once.
    • Students can receive informal feedback through discussion with peers, questions and comments from instructors and peers. It is possible to allow an outside expert with an NSID access to the course to add annotations.

  • Engagement:
    • Instructors who want to provide active learning opportunities and responses to student learning behaviors get good information and easy channels to interact.
    • Perusall touts an engagement with text up to four times the level compared to assigned reading and viewing material outside of the tool (20-30% compared to 90% students engagement with assigned materials).