Many Amherst faculty have had positive experiences with collaborative annotation activities in their classes. Here are some possible tools and options for designing this type of activity. Bear in mind that these activities can be done synchronously during class or a Zoom session, or asynchronously online.



  • Perusall is a sophisticated platform for collaborative annotation and student engagement around class documents.
  • Perusall will work with many types of documents, typically text but also Web pages, images, videos, podcasts, etc.
  • Faculty can upload documents to Perusall for the class to use, or assign from common pre-loaded textbooks (for which the students must pay — an alternative to a physical copy).
  • Faculty can add a Perusall activity to their Moodle site, which will create a "class" on the Perusall system that students can access from Moodle.
  • Getting Started with Perusall on the Perusall Web site.
  • Digital Annotation and Collaborative Analysis using Perusall — Seven Strategies from the Amherst College Classroom

Adding Perusall to Moodle

  1. At the top of the Moodle course page, click the green button Turn Edit On (if necessary).
  2. In the section of your choice, click the menu button Add an activity or resource.
  3. In the list of activities and resources, click on the button Perusall, and the page Adding a new External tool to Perusall will open.
  4. To link to a specific reading in Perusall, in the text field Activity name, type in a name that exactly matches the name in Perusall; otherwise leave this field blank and the link will be to a list of all readings in Perusall.
  5. Click the button Save and Display. Perusall will launch in new browser window or tab.

Students do not need to sign up for Perusall or sign in when they access it from Moodle, because of this integration — Moodle will pass their information to Perusall, and they will just see the list of readings and/or assignments.

Perusal Settings & Options

  • Grouping: Perusall will automatically break your class into groups of 20 unless you change group settings.
    • To change or turn off Grouping: Within Perusall > Settings > Grouping
    • Note: If the automatic grouping option is left on, students cannot see the annotations of other groups.
  • Scoring: If you are creating Assignments in Perusall, Perusall will add automatic scores for student annotations.
    • Students will not see these scores unless you release them, so they can be ignored if you don't care about scoring or don’t like Perusall’s scoring (quite common!).
    • If you do want to use scoring, there are lots of options in the settings to customize how scores are calculated.

Google Drive


Zoom Annotation

  • If your class is meeting over Zoom, you can use the built-in annotation tools to let the class annotate a document on your shared screen.
  • You will have the option to save a screenshot if needed.