Blackboard – Piazza

Piazza is a student-driven question & answer/discussion forum. This tool can be used as a form of “crowd-sourced” office hours, for collaborative homework assignments, or even for group exams. Faculty can enable anonymous questions, reducing students’ fear of “not knowing” in front of their peers or professor. Additionally, Piazza features a LaTeX editor, highlighted syntax, and code blocking, relevant for STEM classes.

Piazza has three types of posts:

  1. Question: Students collaboratively construct a single answer (co-editing, wiki-style). The goal is for the group to build a complete answer. The instructor/TA can also compose their own answer (separate from the students’ collective response). You can assign homework questions on Piazza or encourage students to seek peer and instructor/TA help on Piazza while doing homework on another platform.
  2. Note: This is an open-ended type of discussion, more like a traditional Blackboard discussion forum. There is no singular answer, but rather, multiple people can engage with the question (or content) posed.
  3. Poll: This question type allows for a variety of configuration settings. It can be used similarly to iClicker questions for attendance or real-time assessment of students’ understanding. It can also be used for low-stakes quizzing. And it can be used as a asynchronous survey for managing course logistics.

Anyone (students or faculty) can pose any post type, and any post can include materials including videos. Each post also has a “follow-up discussion” area, for additional dialogue and clarification. Instructors/TAs can “endorse” good questions and answers.

Watch two Piazza demonstrations

This 11-minute video was created by Piazza to orient faculty to the program’s features and functions:

This 5-minute video was created by UVM Lecturer, Radha Dasari, explaining how he uses Piazza:

Plan how to use Piazza for instruction

  1. Will you use Piazza synchronously (Live Q&A), asynchronously, or both?
  2. Will students use Piazza to seek assistance, driven by their needs and questions?
  3. Will you assign homework on Piazza?
  4. Will students use Piazza for discussions that you seed?
  5. What ways will you use the polling feature?
  6. Will you enable Groups in Piazza, encouraging students to collaborate with specific classmates?
  7. Will engagement on Piazza be graded?
  8. How active will you and/or your TAs be on Piazza? What response time norms will you establish?

Integrate Piazza into Blackboard

  1. Browse to your course in Blackboard.
  2. Choose where you want students to access Piazza. Either click on Course Materials or create a new course menu link called Piazza Q&A and click on your new link.
  3. Hover on Build Content and select Web Link.

    • Enter a name for the link, such as Piazza Q&A.
    • Enter this URL: https://piazza.com/connect
    • Check the “This link is to a Tool Provider” box.
    • Click Submit. (You will now see a Piazza link in the content folder where you added it.)

Create and configure a new class in Piazza

  1. Click on the Piazza link in Blackboard that you just created.
  2. Edit the Class Name and Class Number to be clear to you and your students, fill in the estimated enrollment, and click “Create New Piazza Class.”
  3. Configure your class
      • Enter the start date
      • Allow or disallow co-instructor/TA self-signup (recommendation: disallow and instead manually add co-instructors or TAs – see 2 bullet points down)
      • IGNORE INFORMATION ABOUT ENROLLING STUDENTS (because you have linked Piazza to Blackboard)
      • Enroll co-instructors or TAs (if applicable; essential if self-signup was disallowed)
      • Enable or disable anonymous postings by students
      • Enable or disable the option for students to post privately just to the instructor(s)
      • Set up class folders. These function as “tags.” All questions will be required to be affiliated with a class folder. Watch the Piazza video “Organization Tips with Folders” for guidance.

    • Choose whether to use the suggested “first post” language or not.
    • If you copy the syllabus statement provided by Piazza, DO NOT INCLUDE THE CLASS SIGNUP LINK (as students will access Piazza from Blackboard instead).
    • Click “Finish Setup and Continue to Class Q&A.

Customize your Piazza course page

  1. Browse the default posts on the left side of your page.
    • You’ll likely want to leave the “Welcome to Piazza” post so it is visible to students.
    • The other 4 default posts are “private” and intended to provide you with startup information. You may choose to delete or these posts once you have read through the information, to declutter your course page.
  2. Consider whether you’ll use Piazza to post to the Resources tab (Homework, Homework Solutions, Lecture Notes, General Resources), and if so, how you’ll distinguish what’s in Piazza vs what’s in Blackboard.
  3. Set up small Groups, if desired.
  4. Merge multiple courses, if desired.

Preview your Piazza course page as a student

  1. Switch to the Student Preview Mode in your Blackboard course.
  2. Click on the Piazza Q&A link.

Work with Piazza while teaching

  1. Make a plan for how you will introduce Piazza to your students.
  2. Update your profile picture in Piazza (and encourage students to do this as well), through the gear icon at the top right of the screen > Account/Email Settings > Change Picture.
  3. If interested, run Live Q&A during a synchronous class. Encourage students to participate from a web browser or Piazza mobile app (free).
  4. Manage your feed.
  5. Pin posts you want students to see first.
  6. To receive email notifications about particular activity, follow (and then unfollow) posts.
  7. Endorse questions, answers, and follow-ups.
  8. Post a follow-up response to a discussion.
  9. Save posts to your favorites (similar to a bookmark).
  10. Delete a post, if needed.
  11. Track class statistics.

Access Piazza’s Help Center

Piazza Support for Instructors

Piazza Support for Students

Piazza Support for Mobile Devices

 

 

Updated on September 21, 2020

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