January 2012


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Jeff Offutt <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 20 Jan 2012 09:02:05 -0500
Jeff Offutt <[log in to unmask]>
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Dear Volgenau School Colleagues,

I would like to invite all of you to a special presentation from the 
Piazza team. Last August Sanjeev (CS Chair) sent an email announcing 
this new, free, course-oriented discussion board. I tried it in my class 
last fall (SWE 432) and found that it had several novel features that 
make students feel more  ownership in their discussions, which 
encourages more participation. My students were more engaged, had dozens 
of fascinating discussions about the class topics and computing in 
general, and generally liked the class and learned more because of our 
use of this tool.

The company is still in startup mode (10 people, $7 million in funding)
and was very responsive to several bug reports and suggestions we made.
In fact, one of our students (Brian Mancuso) made significant
contributions to the smartphone version of piazza. As a result, the
founder asked me the piazza team could make a brief presentation to GMU.

I strongly recommend using this in your classes and would be glad to
pass on my thoughts and experiences if you're interested.

The seminar announcement is below.


On 1/16/2012 1:04 AM, Sam Malek wrote:
> *Speaker:* Piazza Team
> *Title: *A Tour of the Piazza Discussion Forums
> *Date/Time: *Tuesday, 1/24/2012 @ 12pm
> *Location: *Research Hall 163
> *Host:* Jeff Offutt
> *Abstract:*
> Members of the Piazza team are visiting GMU on Tuesday, January 24 for a
> lunchtime seminar, with lunch provided. They will spend some time
> demonstrating the site, sharing best practices, and answering any questions.
> Piazza is a free online gathering place where students can ask, answer,
> and explore 24/7, under the guidance of their instructors. Students as
> well as instructors can answer questions, fueling a healthy,
> collaborative discussion. Instructors can go into deeper detail on
> complex topics, and spot areas where students are struggling.
> In SWE 432, we found that Piazza streamlined the teaching experience.
> All those hours spent responding to individual emails can now be put to
> better use. You will never have to answer the same question twice.
> Better yet, a student might answer it for you. On top of that, you
> always have complete editorial control over your class.
> Most bulletin boards are organized top-down with the instructor creating
> and controlling all topics and threads. Piazza allows bottom-up
> organization by students, leading to a richer, more interactive, more
> collaborative, and more free learning experience. This leads to more
> participation from students and more learning by students.
> You can read more about Piazza in this article from the New York Times:
> http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/04/technology/04piazza.htm. Or you can
> see demos and sign up at http://www.piazza.com <http://www.piazza.com/>.