Piazza Instructor Guide

piazza-logo
Piazza is an online discussion tool that you can use to facilitate written discussions or question-and-answer threads involving students, teaching assistants (TAs), and instructors. Piazza also supports other features like anonymous posting, polling, and wiki-like collaboration (allowing multiple people to edit the same posts).
Cost Yes Free.
Bandwidth Yes Low demand on internet connections.
Canvas Integration Partial Works in coordination with Canvas, but no grades are passed from Piazza to Canvas.
Privacy Partial Verified by UBC’s Privacy Impact Assessment process, provided you follow the additional steps noted below.
Similar UBC-Supported Tools Y The built-in discussions in Canvas have some overlap with Piazza.

What can I use it for?

You can use Piazza to facilitate student discussions:

  • Supporting instruction between peers, wherein students can create and discuss topics and ideas with each other
  • Providing a platform for students to collaborate and answer each other’s questions
  • Creating an open learning environment where students can post anonymously
  • Running polls to check student understanding of course concepts

A note about Piazza

Piazza is privacy-compliant, if you take proper steps to protect students’ personal information. Please provide the following information to your students:

  • In this course, you will be using Piazza, which is a tool to help facilitate discussions. When creating an account in the tool, you will be asked to provide personally identifying information. Please know you are not required to consent to sharing this personal information with the tool, if you are uncomfortable doing so. If you choose not to provide consent, you may create an account using a nickname and a non-identifying email address, then let your instructor know what alias you are using in the tool.

What do I need to use Piazza?

A supported web browser

Piazza runs in your web browser and supports using Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge.

Tips

  • Piazza offers mobile applications for iOS or Android devices. Check out how to install Piazza apps to interact with your courses.

How do I use Piazza?

You will first need to create or associate a Piazza account with Canvas, then set up a class for students to enrol in.

Click any bar below for instructions and tips for using Piazza.

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Enable Piazza in your Canvas course

You can enable Piazza in your Canvas course in two ways: by adding it to the Course Navigation or by linking it to a module.

We recommend adding Piazza to your Course Navigation, for quicker student access. But also linking your Piazza class in a related module can be a good way to organize course materials for students in one place.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and select Settings in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click the Navigation tab.
  3. Find the Piazza menu item, click the options menu (the three vertical dots), and choose Enable.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save.
  1. Log in to your Canvas course and select Modules in the Course Navigation.
  2. If you do not have an existing module, please follow the instructions to create a new module for your course.
  3. In the grey bar at the top of any module, click the plus sign in the upper right corner of the module.
  4. Select External Tool from the drop-down menu.
  5. Select Piazza from the list and check the box next to "Load in a new tab". This setting will allow students a better view of the Piazza interface.
  6. Click Add Item to add a link to Piazza to your module.

Tips

  • It’s important to set up Piazza through Canvas, even though you can access it directly through piazza.com. Going through Canvas will help prevent technical difficulties.

Create and set up your Piazza class

Once you have added your Piazza link to Canvas following the steps in the accordion above, follow these instructions to create your Piazza class.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click the Piazza link where you've added it. Piazza will open in a new tab, and you will be prompted for a Piazza account. If you had previously linked your Piazza account to Canvas, the account will automatically be associated with you.
    • Enter your UBC email and click Check Email.
    • If you have never used Piazza before, you may be prompted to enter your name and create a password (for security reasons, please use a different password than your UBC CWL). Click Continue.
    • You will be sent an email with a verification code. Enter the verification code from the email, and click Confirm. Your Piazza account will be associated with Canvas.
  2. Fill in the "Estimated Enrollment" field (this can be changed later) and click Create New Piazza Class.
  3. On the "Configure Your Class" page, review the default settings for your course and make adjustments where necessary. We recommend the following:
    • Keep the “Disabled” option default for the "Instructor Self-Signup". This setting will ensure only enrolled course instructors and TAs can sign up as instructors.
    • Set up an access code for your Piazza class. This code helps prevent non-registered students from accessing your course.
    • Do not enrol students, other instructors, or TAs on this page. Information on how to better enrol others is provided in the next accordion sections of this guide.
  4. Click Finish Setup and Continue to Class Q&A to access your Piazza class.

Tips

  • When first creating your class, we recommend keeping the “Class Name” and “Class Number” fields as-is. These fields are automatically populated with the name of your Canvas course. Leaving them as-is will make your course easier for students to identify.
  • We do not recommend using the class signup link provided by Piazza during the class creation, as it may cause technical issues for students, since this link is not integrated with Canvas. Students can instead sign up for your class by clicking the Piazza link from Canvas.

Add TAs and other instructors to your Piazza class

The easiest way to add TAs and other instructors is to invite them through Piazza.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click the Piazza link where you've added it.
  2. In the top navigation bar of your Piazza course, click Manage Class.
  3. Click Manage Enrollment in the grey toolbar.
  4. Under "Enroll Professors/TAs", enter the UBC email addresses of the TAs and other instructors in the text box.
  5. Click Add Instructors.
  6. In the pop-up, select each person's role as either a TA or Professor.
  7. Click Add Instructors in the pop-up.
  8. Once they are added, TAs and other instructors will receive a welcome email with a link to activate their Piazza account.

Tips

  • Add TAs and other instructors using only their UBC email addresses, to protect the confidentiality of their personal email addresses. Since UBC business email addresses are considered public information, they are the preferred place to send communications and notifications from Piazza.
  • TAs and other instructors can also be given the ability to self-enrol by clicking the Piazza link in Canvas, but this process is less efficient. The first instructor of the Piazza class will receive an email each time, prompting them to manually approve any TAs or instructors who self-enrol.

Add students to your Piazza class

Students can self-enrol in your Piazza class. Whether they click the Piazza link in Canvas from the Course Navigation or from a module, students will be prompted to set up their Piazza account.

Note that, to ensure your use of Piazza complies with privacy requirements, students must also be offered an option to use a pseudonym. This step is included in the process below.

  1. Before you invite students to self-enrol, please provide the following information to them:
    • In this course, you will be using Piazza, which is a tool to help facilitate discussions. When creating an account in the tool, you will be asked to provide personally identifying information. Please know you are not required to consent to sharing this personal information with the tool, if you are uncomfortable doing so. If you choose not to provide consent, you may create an account using a nickname and a non-identifying email address, then let your instructor know what alias you are using in the tool.
  2. Students will need to log in to Canvas and click the Piazza link in Canvas from the Course Navigation or from a module, depending on where you've added it. You will also need to provide them the access code, if you are using one.
  3. You can share the following steps to help guide students through the rest of the enrolment process:
    • After you click the link, Piazza will open in a new tab and you will be prompted to set up an account. If you have an existing Piazza account linked to Canvas, your account will automatically be associated and you can skip ahead.
      • If you are using Piazza with Canvas for the first time, you may be prompted to enter your preferred email, preferred name, password, and an email verification code. This step is where you can create an account using a nickname and non-identifying email address, if you choose.
      • You may also be prompted to enter your level of study, major, and anticipated completion date. This information does not need to be accurate, if you wish to keep these details private.
      • You may be offered the option to "Join the Piazza Network of students and employers". You are not required to join the network to participate in course discussions.
    • If your instructor has used an access code, enter the access code you have been given.
    • Click Join Class to finish enrolling in the Piazza class.
    • If you have used an alias in signing up for a Piazza account, let your instructor know what you used.

Set anonymity for discussions in your Piazza class

By default, students can choose to post anonymously to everyone: their peers, instructors, and TAs. As an instructor, you can decide whether you want to keep students anonymous to the instructional team or not.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click the Piazza link where you've added it.
  2. In the top navigation bar in your Piazza course, click Manage Class.
  3. Click Customize Q&A in the grey toolbar.
  4. Beside "Posting Anonymously", decide which setting to use:
    • Choose Enable, and students have the option to show up as "Anonymous" to everyone: peers, instructors, and TAs.
    • Choose Disable, and students have the option to show up as "Anonymous" to peers, but instructors and TAs will be able to identify them.
  5. You can also provide students an option to post privately to the instructional team. Beside "Private Post", choose to enable or disable this feature.
  6. Click Save Changes.

Tips

  • Students can set their anonymity on each post by using the "Show my name as" drop-down menu. Depending on the settings you've enabled, they can choose to post with their name, as anonymous to classmates, or as anonymous to everyone.
  • You can edit or delete any posts as well as reply, regardless of whether the post was posted anonymously by a student or not.
  • You have the option to ban students who may be abusing their ability to post anonymously. When viewing any problematic post, hover over the top right corner, click "Actions", and select "Open Ban User Console" to see your options.

Where can I get more support with Piazza?

Technical support

If you have trouble with Piazza:


Pedagogical support

Learn more


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