Hypothesis & Perusall Compared

Hypothesis & Perusall Compared2020-12-23T13:23:01-08:00

Hypothesis is an open-source platform that adds social annotation to any text. Perusall is a proprietary reading platform that has a built-in social annotation capability. Both are used to enable social reading capabilities in educational contexts, like when students read texts assigned by teachers. We are providing this information to help you understand the similarities and differences between the two tools, and help you make informed decisions about which will work best for you and/or your school.

While Hypothesis and Perusall have some similarities, there are several key differences in each tool’s capabilities, and in how they work for different users, including students, teachers, and/or people using assistive technology.

Where the tools diverge most significantly is in how they function: Hypothesis adds annotation to documents. Rather than bringing a text to Hypothesis, you bring Hypothesis to a text. In order to annotate with Perusall, you purchase or upload content in its platform.

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Start using Hypothesis in your LMS and learn more about a supported pilot at your school.

Side-by-side comparison inside the LMS

Note: This comparison focuses on using Hypothesis and Perusall inside a learning management system (LMS). Both tools can also be used in other contexts not covered here.

The table above compares different characteristics of two social annotation platforms: Hypothesis and Perusall.
Hypothesis Perusall
How it works Teachers make readings with social annotation available to their students as LMS assignments. Students and teachers annotate readings purchased within or uploaded to Perusall.
Types of documents/files you can annotate You can add Hypothesis annotation to any public web page, or any PDF or text file. Inside Perusall, students can purchase, read, and annotate textbooks, and teachers can upload various files for student annotation, including PDFs, EPUBs, web pages, and text or MS Office files.
Where your annotated documents live Documents can be live, public web pages, or can be stored in an LMS file system or on Google drive. Documents can only be stored in the Perusall platform.
Who can annotate Students and teachers annotate individually — in private — or together in groups tied to LMS class rosters. For larger classes, groups can be tied to LMS sections rosters. Students and teachers annotate individually — in private — or together in groups tied to LMS class rosters. For larger classes, Perusall creates randomized reading groups for each new assignment.
Highlights, notes, and annotations Annotations can be private or shared with the class, and each annotation can anchor threaded discussions. Highlights are private. No one can edit or delete anyone else’s annotations. Annotations and bookmarks are private by default. When shared, student annotations can be edited or deleted by teachers and other students. Highlights without notes and threaded discussions are not supported.
What you can include in annotations Text in any character set, links, images hosted externally, videos hosted externally, equations, tags. Text in any character set, links, images hosted internally, videos hosted externally, equations, tags.
Annotation anchoring Text-selection anchors for annotations and highlights. Text-selection anchors for annotations and bookmarks.
Grading Full gradebook integration with all LMSs via with IMS Global Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standards. Native gradebook with some autograding capabilities. Instructors can sync grades to LMSs as a separate step.
Analytics Dashboards with class and institutional views. Dashboards with class views.
Copyright concerns Hypothesis does not introduce new copyright concerns because content is not copied to Hypothesis. Perusall requires teachers to assume responsibility for copyright on uploaded content. Proprietary textbooks purchased through Perusall include access rights for purchasing users.
Supported pilots Hypothesis offers a comprehensive pilot program to help schools launch social annotation effectively.
Cost Standard annual subscription pricing for schools based on active users, with discounts for scale. Students pay full retail prices to read/annotate publisher textbooks. No cost for other uploaded documents. Perusall also offers institutional licenses with custom legal, co-branding, API access, and SLAs.
Research The overwhelming majority of existing peer-reviewed scholarship on social annotation focuses on Hypothesis, which has also launched a robust program to advance additional IRB-approved research about social annotation and learning. There is some research about Perusall.
Support Full-time, dedicated customer success and support team, providing tier-2 support to teachers and staff via a  support ticketing system and a public domain knowledge base. Unknown support team size offering help via a support ticketing system and a public knowledge base.
Service level agreements Hypothesis provides industry-standard service level agreements to partners, defining support, service availability, API, proxy service, browser extension, and sidebar client. Perusall provides service level agreements, defining support, service availability, and administrative and analytics API.
Team Learn more about the current Hypothesis team. Learn more about the current Perusall team.
Community contributions Led development and adoption of W3C web annotation standards.

Coordinates AnnotatED community for annotation in teaching and learning.

Hosts annual I Annotate conference focusing on open annotation.

Accessibility Hypothesis has a comprehensive, ongoing practice to ensure accessibility. As of May 2020, Hypothesis confirmed WCAG 2.0 AA compliance with an independent assessment completed by an external auditor. Perusall’s accessibility statement links to a VPAT 1.3 that evaluated their product against WCAG 1.0 compliance in June 2019.
Student privacy Hypothesis supports strong student privacy standards, meeting rigorous requirements in both K12 and higher education. Hypothesis does not collect personally identifiable student information like email addresses. See what student data Hypothesis collects. Perusall’s privacy policy describes their practices, including what information they collect and how it may be transferred to other parties. Perusall collects personally identifiable student information like email addresses. See what student data Perusall collects.
Security The Hypothesis HECVAT/security statement is posted publicly. The Perusall security statement is posted publicly.
Standards Meets various IMS Global standards such as Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) to integrate with learning management systems.

Compliant with W3C web annotation standards.

Meets various IMS Global standards such as Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) to integrate with learning management systems.
Codebase Fully open-source. Proprietary.
API Hypothesis offers an open API with documentation. The Perusall API is available only to customers with paid institutional licenses.

Published: 21 Dec 2020

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Start using Hypothesis in your LMS and learn more about a supported pilot at your school.