Collaborative reading with Perusall

Perusall is a free social reading platform integrated into Moodle which allows students (and teaching staff) to digitally annotate readings and videos collectively (with text, links, and embedded content), and respond to each other’s comments and questions. Perusall motivates participation via social connections and automatic engagement scores. As the instructor, you can engage in the discussion with students, and you also have oversight of the student engagement. You can access a student confusion report — a one-page summary of concepts students had trouble with, or most engaged them, along with some of the best annotations.

Perusall supports a rich and engaging reading experience - if properly used. Perusall can be used in several ways:

  • Uploading open sourced and unpublished content in the public domain
  • Purchasing articles and resources directly from Perusall
  • Using materials by arrangement with the Library/database (for details, contact the Monash Library)
  • Share publicly listed videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Google Drive or Dropbox

Before using Perusall, to ensure the resources you are uploading abide by copyright laws please read the Responsible use of Perusall guide.

Note: Although Perusall is integrated into Moodle, it is NOT enterprise supported. Any technical queries must be directed to Perusall.

Set up a Perusall course

Before creating a Perusall actvity, you must first create a Perusall course via Moodle. Once you have set up the Perusall course, you can begin adding resources in Persuall and creating assignments, which will automatically be linked in the Moodle Gradebook.

  1. Ensure editing is on.
  2. In the section you would like to add a Perusall link, click Add an activity or resource.
  3. Select External Tool and click Add.
  4. In the General section give your activity a name and a description. This will display as the link on the unit page.
  5. From the Preconfigured tool drop down list, select Perusall.
  6. Click Save and display.
  7. Click on the Open in a new window link. This will redirect you to Perusall. Read through the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy before clicking OK.
  8. Follow the directions in Perusall to set up your course. It is recommended that you add all course content before creating reading assignments.
  9. To add content (documents or video links), click on the Library tab and then click on +Add or select from the list along the right hand side of the page.

  10. Follow the course set up instructions to complete the settings for course start and end times and grouping preferences.
  11. Note: Each Moodle unit creates a unique Perusall course. Therefore, each semester you will need to set up the Perusall course again. Click on Choose course materials and then Materials from another course to duplicate both materials and settings from the previous semester.

  12. Once you have set up a new course in Perusall through Moodle, the student roster in Perusall may appear empty. This is normal as Perusall will automatically populate with students once they launch Perusall from Moodle for the first time.

Create an activity in Perusall

Once you have set up the Perusall course in Moodle, you can start adding resources and creating assignments. If you plan to have multiple graded Perusall assignments, you will need to create multiple external tool activities and link each individual Perusall assignment to seperate external tool activities.

In Perusall

  1. Click the Assignments tab.
  2. Click Add Assignment.
  3. Choose content to assign and range to assign.
  4. Set name and deadline. The name must be identical to the name used within Moodle to link the activity properly.
  5. Set optional advanced options. Ensure that the amount of annotations required is appropriate for the content.
  6. Click Save changes. 

  7. On the assignment page, click Copy full title for LMS.

In Moodle

  1. Ensure editing is on.
  2. In the section you would like to add a Perusall link, click Add an activity or resource.
  3. Select External Tool and click Add.
  4. In the General section, paste the full title for LMS in the Activity name.
  5. From the Preconfigured tool drop down list, select Perusall.
  6. Set other activity settings as necessary, such as Grade and activity completion. Leave the Moodle Unit Preview blank.
  7. Click Save and display.
  8. Repeat these steps for each assigned reading or video.
  9. Once this is set up, students can launch directly into that assignment inside Perusall from your Moodle unit via the external tool link.

Automatic grading in Perusall

Perusall is all about meaningful engagement. Perusall uses AI to automatically grade student annotations, evaluated on the basis of quality, timeliness, quantity, and distribution. Even though the top score is 2, Perusall can award a score of 3 which is a bonus point that indicates that the student’s comment or question was exceptional.  A zero means that the student's comment was deemed by Perusall to demonstrate no real substance or thoughtful reading. For more information, see Annotating in Perusall scoring examples.

Quality 2 = Demonstrates thorough and thoughtful reading AND insightful interpretation of the reading
1 = Demonstrates reading, but no (or only superficial) interpretation of the reading
0 = Does not demonstrate any thoughtful reading or interpretation
Quantity Overall score is calculated using the highest-quality annotations (threshold amount set by the instructor) for each assignment.

Completing the reading and posting annotations before the posted deadline is required to receive credit. You may choose to allow a grace period during which the credit for student annotations linearly decreases from 100% at the deadline to 0% at the end of the grace period.


Annotating only part of the text and/or failing to distribute your annotations throughout the document lowers the overall score.

Overall Evaluation

An overall evaluation for each reading assignment based on the criteria above as follows:

3 = Exceptional (rarely given)
2 = Meets expectations
1 = Needs improvement
0 = Insufficient

Note: As an instructor you can override the score in Perusall. When you override a score, you are indicating to Perusall that you deem that type of comment or question to either be worth more or less than was automatically scored. This will help modify the algorithm to better meet your requirements. You can manually override student scores from the Gradebook page by clicking on the pencil icon.

Grades recorded in the Perusall activity will be automatically synced to Moodle Gradebook once they have been released to students. Changes made to the Perusall activity will also be reflected in Moodle gradebook, for example changes to the lateness penalty. It may take up to an hour for a grade update to be reflected in the Gradebook.

To change the weighting of the activity, you would need to do this in the Gradebook setup. For more information, see the Moodle Gradebook setup guide.

Information for students

You should embed the following videos with students to provide guidance on Perusall and how to use Perusall. Follow the instructions below on how to embed these videos into your Moodle unit. Also share the following resource with students, Annotating in Perusall student guide.

  1. Copy the embed codes provided below each video by highlighting the text and using CTRL+C or ⌘+C(MAC).
<iframe src="" width="720" height="405" style="padding: 0px; border: 1px solid #464646;" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen allow="autoplay"></iframe>
<iframe src="" width="720" height="405" style="padding: 0px; border: 1px solid #464646;" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen allow="autoplay"></iframe>
  1. In Moodle, navigate to where you would like to embed the video.
  2. In the text editor, Click on the Edit HTML icon.

    Note: If you do not see the Edit HTML icon, click on the expand toolbar icon in the top left of the text editor. (Top: TinyMCE editor(default), Below: ATTO editor)HTML TinyMCEHTML ATTO

  3. Paste the embed code in the HTML window and click Update.
  4. When you are finished, click Save and return to unit or Save and display.
  5. The video should now be embedded in Moodle.

Additional Information


Overview Of LMS Integration(June 05)