Social Reading (Perusall)
Getting students to prepare before coming to class by thoughtfully and critically reading class material or textbook can be a challenge. This challenge is often cited as a reason for *not* flipping or repurposing classroom time for active or problem-based learning. To address this problem with a novel and easy to use technical solution, I encourage you to try a highly engaging, innovative and free alternate to independent reading called Perusall. Perusall is a free engagement tool developed by Harvard University that facilitates social reading.
Social reading allows students to collaboratively read text in the form of an uploaded open access PDF or online textbook, or collaboratively watch a video. Students can make comments, provide insight, ask and answer questions posed by either their peers and/or the instructor. The student view is intuitive and provides detailed instruction on how to succeed in the activity:
Student Directives for inclusion in a Syllabus
Perusall helps you learn faster by collaboratively annotating the readings and communicating with your classmates. Collaboration gets you help whenever you need it, makes learning more fun, enables you to help others (which research shows is also a great way for you to learn), and helps the instructor make class better by emphasizing information that you need.
If you have a question or information to share about a passage in the readings, highlight the text and type in a comment as an annotation. You can also respond to a classmate’s annotation in threads (Facebook style) in real time or upvote questions you find helpful. Good annotations contribute to the class by stimulating discussion, explaining your thought processes, helping others, and drawing attention to good points. If a particular classmate’s point is relevant, you can explicitly "mention" them and they will be immediately notified, even if not presently signed on.
Research shows that the following behaviors on Perusall predict higher end-of-semester grades and long term mastery of the subject. Your instructor may use some or all to determine your formal score.
Contributing thoughtful questions and comments to the class discussion, spread throughout the entire reading (see some examples)
Starting the reading early
Breaking the reading into chunks (instead of trying to do it all at once)
Reading all the way to the end of the assigned reading
Posing thoughtful questions and comments that elicit responses from classmates
Answering questions from others
Upvoting thoughtful questions and helpful answers