Forum for classroom discussions
piazza.com is a commerical, for-profit enterprise that offers a product for classroom discussion forums.
There is no monetary cost to using Piazza, although there is a “cost” in terms of having to manage “yet another tool”.
On the plus side, students seem to like having a Piazza forum in their classes, and many instructors have found that if the tool is used well, it has many benefits.
How to set up Piazza for a UCSB course
Setting up a course in Piazza is straightforward.
- Create an account at piazza.com
- Follow the instructions to set up a course.
The thing where you might need guidance if you are new is how to get the students into Piazza.
- Have the students “add themselves”. This is less work for you, but you can’t be sure that all students are actually in the forum.
- Add them yourself by uploading a file containing all of their emails. This is not very much work, and it has the benefit that you can see, at a glance, how many of the students registered for your course have actually bothered to activate their accounts.
One fun fact: once a student activates their account once, from then on, if an instructor adds them to a course with the same email, they get activated immediately. So, if you are teaching courses later in the curriculum, with high probability, a large fraction of your students will become active immediately after you upload their emails.
You can get a CSV file of all the students in your course from Egrades https://egrades.sa.ucsb.edu/.