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Social Learning Platform Piazza Adds Live Q&A Upvoting to Course-Correct Virtual Ed

Piazza, the company that produces a social learning application for colleges and universities, has added new functionality to its software. Piazza "Live Q&A" offers a dedicated place within courses where students can ask questions and upvote questions in real time as instructors are running their classes. The addition enables faculty to identify gaps in student understanding and make course corrections as they proceed.

The program is free for faculty and student usage. The company generates revenue by running the "Piazza Network," an opt-in community that allows employers and students to connect for potential job opportunities.

The company designed Live Q&A as a virtual replacement for the in-person activity of students raising their hands. When students upvote questions, instructors can see what's most important and where students are struggling and adjust their lesson accordingly or follow up with supplemental materials after class.

The program also now includes a "duplicate post detection" function, which limits the number of repetitive posts. Students are prompted with a list of existing posts that might be similar, and if there's a duplicate, they can be redirected to published answers.

Analytics have also been updated, giving instructors the ability to download an up-to-date breakdown of class participation data.

"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," said Piazza Founder and CEO, Pooja Sankar, in a statement. "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."

"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," said Emmett Witchel, a professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin. "I predict this feature will be very popular in the current distance learning climate."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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