Piazza, the premier social learning platform, today announced Piazza Live Q&A, providing a new dedicated space in Piazza courses for students to easily ask and upvote questions in real time as instructors are running their classes. Live Q&A also adds a new dimension to virtual office hours or any other environment where instructors want to monitor students’ progress and understanding throughout their teaching segments. The immediate adoption of Live Q&A and significant increase in student engagement in beta tests suggests that the novel learning solutions implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic may result in large scale changes to the traditional classroom well after students return to campus.
Piazza Live Q&A was developed in response to the recent surge in online learning as Piazza has secured a large number of new system-wide integrations and contracts with universities, ranging from Ivy League institutions to large state schools, including U.S. and global deployments. Since March 1st, more than 36% of courses added on the platform in the last year have been created within the past month, and engagement has soared 63% over a typical month, with existing classes relying on Piazza even more as all students shift to virtual learning.
“Universities and schools in the U.S. and throughout the world have been forced to contend with a new reality as they try to educate students in the midst of a pandemic,” said Piazza founder and CEO, Pooja Sankar. “We accelerated our plans to enhance our platform because the demand for real-time interaction in a comprehensive learning suite is overwhelming, both among students and instructors. Delivering this capability in an intelligent and engaging way will forever change the way courses are taught. Once students return to campus, the days of raising their hands in class, which can be very intimidating, will be over as real-time feedback becomes the norm.”
To make the online experience feel more like a “regular” classroom, particularly for students and instructors who are not used to online course delivery, Piazza designed Live Q&A to serve as a smart equivalent to students raising their hands. Because the Piazza platform gives students the ability to upvote questions, essentially pooling inquiries in an efficient manner, instructors instantly see what’s most important and where students are struggling so that they can adjust their lesson or lecture accordingly or follow up with supplemental material after class. As a result, online teaching and collaboration become more natural and customized to the level of understanding of students actively involved in the class, fostering a more engaging learning experience for students that is also informative for professors, TAs, and teachers who want to know how well material is being received.
“In filming my class this semester, it was easy for student interaction to become stilted early on, which has long been a problem with virtual learning. In-class techniques like polls help, but they sometimes slow down the pace of the class,” said Emmett Witchel, professor of computer science at UT Austin. “Piazza’s ability to power real-time upvoting will hit a sweet spot, helping me to respond to students quickly to keep them involved and engaged. I predict this feature will be very popular in the current distance learning climate.”
In addition to Live Q&A, Piazza developed Duplicate Post Detection functionality, which effectively limits the number of repetitive posts that can clutter Q&A feeds and take away from the learning experience. Students are prompted with a list of existing posts that might be similar. If a post appears to be a duplicate, students can be quickly redirected to published answers. This helps instructors by dramatically reducing the number of repetitive posts they have to wade through while attempting to promptly answer every student’s questions, and students’ original questions don’t get lost.
Piazza also added enhanced participation analytics for instructors, which gives them the ability to download an up-to-date breakdown of class participation data. This feature tracks student engagement in highly specific ways so that instructors can enhance the student experience, assess participation, and maximize retention. This is particularly helpful in improving the experience among students from underrepresented backgrounds who might not be vocal within a course even though they are actively engaged in the curriculum or those students who may have trouble with steady access to a home internet connection.
Piazza’s Q&A platform was initially created to help STEM students engage in classroom discussions and get timely answers to questions from instructors and peers, no matter how challenging the lesson, in order to make instruction relevant and accessible to all enrolled students. Piazza has since helped professors streamline conversations to address the most pressing questions that students have. To date, Piazza has been used by more than 5 million students and over 50,000 professors from 2,000 schools in 90 countries around the world, and instruction has expanded from STEM to all disciplines. It is also leveraged by high schools offering STEM-related courses.
To learn more about Piazza Q&A and Live Q&A, visit www.piazza.com.
Piazza Q&A is the premier social learning platform today, helping more than 5 million students learn beyond the traditional classroom in more than 2,000 universities spanning 90 countries. Students from all disciplines use Piazza to work together collaboratively despite differences in learning levels, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, and instructors address their questions as they arise. While Piazza Q&A enables inclusive learning, the Piazza Network opens up career opportunities. Any student in the Piazza community can opt-in to join the Network, where they can connect with potential employers as well as interact with other students in their network for career advice. Employers sign up to interact with students. Revenue from employers keeps Piazza Q&A free for students and professors while offering students unique access to career and networking opportunities.
To learn more about all that Piazza offers, please visit www.piazza.com.
To learn more about the Piazza Network, please visit www.piazza.com/piazzanetwork