Tag Archives: embeddable Piazza discussion tool

Discussion Boards: More Impact with Less E-mail!

Instructors traditionally use online Discussion Boards to help

determine student understanding, support peer learning,

and encourage participation, particularly among students who are least likely to

contribute to classroom discussion.

While Discussion Boards are well suited for use in classes heavy in debate

and explorative topics, instructors can also use Discussion Boards to manage

student questions, potentially reducing instructional time dedicated to answering

email. If students are encouraged to post questions to a course question and

answer Discussion Board, the whole class can benefit from both the posted

question and the instructor’s response. This is especially helpful for issues like

course navigation, technical support, or peer feedback on projects. With the right

incentives, you may even find students in your class willing to answer questions

and direct others to online resources. Research has shown that this question

articulation and peer interaction benefits both the questioner and the responder!

As a Discussion Board’s content grows, students gain access to resources

and help 24 hours per day, and the instructor gains insight into typical student

struggles and outside resources that students are using to address them.

Students may need small incentives like a single redeemed homework point for

each post or a minimum posting requirement during the term to motivate them to

use a Discussion Board. An instructor may also copy early emails anonymously

to the Discussion Board and respond there – then reply to the students’ email

directing the student to the Discussion Board for his/her response (and for future

use!). Once students start posting, many will find it so useful they’ll need no


Canvas contains a built-in threaded discussion tool in every course,

which includes the ability to post images, equations, audio clips, and even

video. Instructors teaching problem-based courses may find that the free,

seamlessly embeddable Piazza discussion tool, which features a non-threaded

answer format and a robust LaTeX equation editor, works even better.

The CTL Tip of the Week is brought to you by the William G. Jackson Center for

Teaching and Learning (CTL). For more general information or help with Canvas

at Michigan Tech, be sure to visit Canvas One Stop.