Piazza is a Question and Answer discussion board that is designed to facilitate collaborative interaction among students. It is intended to model face-to-face group discussions allowing for the creation of complex questions and answers.
Questions can be posed by both students and instructors and the answers are editable by both parts. Students collaborate on answers in a wiki-like environment to create a single response to any question. Answers can generate additional follow-up questions and answers, adding clarity and depth to the original post.
When students post on Piazza, everyone benefits. Students like knowing that their classmates may have the same question, and when it's answered on Piazza, instructors can mark them as duplicate and consolidate them into one post so it's answered for everybody.
While not affiliated with the College, many instructors are finding Piazza an interesting alternative to the native discussion board in Blackboard. Piazza classes can easily be integrated into Blackboard course sites and instructors can create a Piazza for their class with a single click.
Selected Piazza features:
- It updates in real time. Users can see answers develop as they are edited.
- It provides support for anonymous posts.
- It provides support for formatting equations (LaTeX equations editor).
- It provides support for the editing of computer code.
- It provides support for real time polling.
- It offers free downloadable iOS and Android mobile apps allowing users access to their question and answer discussions remotely.
Instructors might consider using a Piazza discussion board:
- As a powerful tool for answering student questions, so all students can benefit from the questions posed by other students in the class.
- As an online wiki-like problem solving space for the whole class or for study groups.
- As a tool to facilitate collaborative writing.
- As a back-channel for large classes to allow TAs or co-instructors to monitor incoming student questions.
- As a tool for instructors and students to stay connected in distance learning courses