Collaborative Lecture Notes

Real-time annotation during a lecture can capture questions that students have about the content as well as enable collaborative creation of knowledge.
by LSA Learning & Teaching Technology Consultants

Perusall can be used to create collaborative lecture notes on digital content, such as slides and digital reading assignments. Annotating reading assignments helps ensure students are encouraged to do the reading, think about it in depth before class, and participate in class discussion and activities because they have already become invested in the content.

Annotating helps readers…

  • engage with the text when their minds are tempted to wander.

  • retain thoughts so they can be referred to later.

  • recall ideas so they can share with others.

  • remember what they thought was important at the time of the reading.

  • notice patterns, synthesize new thinking, and ask questions to build more background knowledge.

Annotating helps the teacher . . .

  • distinguish who is actually reading and who is “fake” reading.

  • “see” what strategies readers are using to access meaning.

  • diagnose what learners need in order to better comprehend the text.

  • assess what learners understand about the content and how they determine what is important.

  • notice how the reader is using strategies to construct personal meaning.

(Tovani 2011)

Posting lecture slides in Canvas, and allowing students to annotate them during class, has the additional benefit of collaborative engagement with and knowledge-building around the lecture material. If a GSI monitors the developing annotations, it can also become a Q&A opportunity. Developing questions can be answered either during or after lecture, and the annotated slides can become a study-guide.

In Canvas, faculty can turn on Perusall in their courses by going to Settings > Navigation and scrolling down until you see Perusall. Right-click on it and choose Enable.

If you’d like to learn more about ways to make your lectures more interactive, you can also attend our Student Engagement Seminar on Interactive Lectures. Sign up today to reserve a spot! 



Tovani, Chris. 2011. So what Do They Really Know?: Assessment that Informs Teaching and Learning. Stenhouse Publishers.

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