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Canvas – How do I use Piazza?
Piazza is designed to facilitate higher quality collaborative communication in a unique problem- solving place that is part wiki and part discussion forum. Students can collaborate to ask a question, or contribute a response to a question that may be posed by students or instructors, under the guidance of their instructors. Instructors can also collaborate on answers in their own space endorse or correct a response that a student has posted. Piazza is one of the external learning and technology tools that can be added to your Canvas course navigation. Features such as a wiki format, the ability to highlight for immediate reply, and polls promote collaboration.
Benefits of using Piazza
Students can ask questions anonymously, answer each other’s questions, and bring attention to pertinent questions for teaching assistants and faculty to answer. Faculty can endorse correct student answers, extrapolate on common misunderstandings, and facilitate transparent course-wide communication. Piazza can help students find answers more quickly and assist faculty in checking for comprehension.
- Simple and intuitive interface
- Class polling and discussion capabilities
- Format allows for a single high-quality answer or discussion thread that users collectively build, so they can read one answer instead of combing through dozens of comments
- iOS and Android apps available
- Instructors can choose whether to enable anonymous posts
- Instructor endorsements of student questions and answers
- Student participation reports allow instructor to see who prefers to ask, answer, or just read
- Support for LaTeX
- Information and content is easily searchable
- Easily organized using topic “folders”
Adding Piazza to Canvas
Piazza can be added to your course navigation or to a module.
- Go into your course and select Settings.
- Select the Navigation tab.
- The top list is the tools already enabled in your course, the bottom is tools available to be enabled.
- Drag the Piazza tool from the bottom list to the top and select save.
Canvas has a fixed navigation display, so you will not be able to organize that list.
- Log into Canvas and navigate to your course.
- Add a Module to your content by selecting + Module.
- Click the + button in the module you just created.
- Select External Tool from the Add Item drop-down.
- Scroll to Piazza.
- Click Add Item.
There are many resources available to help you get up and running with Piazza as well as continuing support.
Students using screenreaders should use https://piazza.com/lite for a better experience.
Tips and Tricks
- Give an introduction to Piazza, show the students how it works, what you can do with it, and how you want them to use it.
- Encourage students to ask questions regarding the course syllabus and assignments.
- Allow students to rely on each other for help when confused or struggling with course content.
- Ask complex scenario-based questions that students collaborate on to generate a rich and complete response.
- Have students collaboratively brainstorm alternative solutions to problems or variables to be considered when making a decision.
- Encourage students to use private messages only if truly necessary.
- Don’t answer questions asked through email, but refer to Piazza (you can also choose to hide you email address from the students).
- Create Folders for different types of questions.
- Use the Pin feature to put important questions or comments on top of everyone’s list.
- Make sure you indicate in Piazza’s email settings which emails you want to receive.
- If you’re using subgroups within the class, show the students how they can either ask a question that is only visible to their subgroup, or visible to all students in the class.