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Piazza - SoM policy 

Piazzai (www.piazza.com) has proved very popular with students in Y1. It is a well-designed, usable system that enables students to ask questions (optionally anonymously) about a course.  Students collaborate on an answer to the question (wiki-style).  Lecturers and “TAs” can also give an answer and/or endorse the student answer.  There is also a possibility of individual student  “follow up comments” but this is rarely used in practice.  UoE is moving towards officially supporting Piazza. 

Unlike a discussion forum or similar, one generally gets a single collaborative answer rather than competing ones. This is popular with students because they do not need to disentangle a thread of comments and with academics because there is normally just the single answer to moderate.   It also fits with the idea of collaborative working.

Many lecturers have found that Piazza reduces their workload because questions that might have been answered multiple times by email need only be answered once on Piazza.

Principles

  • The system is designed so that the main process is students answering other students’ questions, and it is efficient and educationally preferable to use it in that way.

  • Lecturer and TA presence is necessary but should act mainly as “moderation”, endorsing correct answers where that may be helpful, and occasionally providing an “Instructor’s answer”, often a hint but sometimes more.  Lecturers and tutors should not be too rapidly answering student queries and should give good time for a student answer to emerge first.

  • Students need guidance in using Piazza, including on asking appropriate questions (not just “How do you do Q23?”), answering (providing assistance but normally not complete solutions) and academic politeness.

  • Since we are encouraging students to participate in Piazza, we have a duty of care and need to be moderating the discussions in case, for example, of inappropriate  posts or usage which could be “academic misconduct” (e.g. students asking for or providing substantial complete answers rather than targeted help, particularly for assessed work).  

Guidelines on usage

  • Active, school-promoted piazza pages should be monitored at least twice weekly. (Note that Piazza can provide email summaries of activity and if that is turned on there is no need to check the site unless there is activity.)   Pages that are no longer being monitored should be “turned off” (so that new student content cannot be added).  (Pages should be removed altogether once the class is over.)

Levels of Support

We provide Piazza support in the form of paid tutor hours for Prehonours lecture courses where the CO and YO support its use.   

The  level of PG support for this should be as below, but the CO or a lecturer should be monitoring and take responsibility for eg explaining to students how to reach the Piazza page for the course,  setting parameters, promoting use and overseeing the moderation.     

During teaching, piazza hours should be allocated as follows:

  • Prehonours

    • Large 20 credit classes (300+): 25 hours.  

    • Medium 20 credit courses  classes (150-300): 15 hours

    • Medium 10 credit courses: 10 hours

Outside of teaching hours, the lecturing team can choose to keep Piazza open, but if so need to monitor it.

  • Honours

    • Use of Piazza at CO’s discretion

Duties of PG monitors:

  • Monitor regularly to ensure appropriate standards, warning posters and deleting as appropriate.

  • Endorsing student answers wherever possible.

  • Answering, or providing hints towards answering, questions that have not been answered by other students after 24-36 hours.

  • Maintain a log of activity (weekly approximate times on site and number of answers and endorsements made).

Piazza after teaching period:

  • If the CO or other lecturer is not prepared to support Piazza (at least to the extent of light monitoring) between end of teaching and exams (particularly in S2), then the site needs to be closed to new content.   This should be avoided where possible.  





 


Last direct edit: 13:49, Wednesday 27 September 2017, by Toby Bailey. (Feedback? Please contact the page owners)

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