CSci 5106, Fall 2019
Guidelines for the Use of the Discussion Forums
Piazza is an electronic medium for providing support for
courses. While it offers a few different services, we will be using it
only for conducting course-related discussions outside the classroom.
Its usefulness in this context will depend on the enthusiastic
participation of each one of us. We should note, however, that we can
also inadvertently degrade its utility if we do not pay attention
to how we use it. To avoid this possibility, I have put
together a few suggestions that you should read before you actually
start using Piazza for class discussions. These guidelines
elaborate in a way specific to this course on the other information
that Piazza provides you, so please do read them even if you think you
already understand how to use the medium.
- Clicking on the Piazza link on the course web page will bring you
to a place from where you can directly access the discussion
forums. On the left side, you should see displayed buttons
for a few folders labelled "hw1," "hw2," etc. Clicking on any of
these buttons will show you the questions, notes, etc that have been
posted to these folders. Actually, there are a few more such folders
but the buttons for them will become visible only after some content
has been posted to them.
- To post a question or note of your own, you should click the
"New Post" button just below the folder buttons.
- To explain the folder choices a bit, I have tried to use them to
distinguish between the following kinds of discussions:
- those that pertain generally to course material and to issues
concerning programming languages;
- those that concern problems in each of the assignments we will be
seeing in the course;
- those pertaining to issues with the way the instruction is
proceeding and, more, generally about course quality; and
- those that relate to camaraderie in the class and are not directly
related to course content.
- Pick the folder and also the category, whether a question or a
note, for what you post carefully. Make sure to include an
informative subject line. Paying attention to these aspects will
have an impact on whether or not your posting is seen in a timely
manner. It will also have an impact on how easily others can pick
out the postings relevant to a particular topic and, hence, on how
useful the medium turns out to be.
- Check the other postings before you actually post
your own. You may find an answer to a question you have more quickly
this way. You may also find similar thoughts and questions and hence
would be able to decide the right place to raise the issue you have,
whether as a separate thread or as an elaboration to an ongoing
discussion, if you read first.
- Participate in discussions actively and
enthusiastically. If you have a question, post it with
confidence. Remember, questions you ask towards gaining a better
understanding will never be held against you by anyone whose opinions
we should take seriously. Similarly, if you think you have an
answer to a question that has been asked or can add something
illuminating to an ongoing discussion, be bold and add your comments:
you learn a lot simply by explaining something to or formulating your
thoughts for others.
- Of course, you should think as carefully as you can about what you
post before you commit it. Thinking about how
best to express yourself helps you understand things better and also
has an impact on how helpful others can be to you or how helpful you
are to others.
- Although you can post anonymously to all the forums that have
been set up, I recommend that you identify yourself completely with
every post on any forum other than that for commenting on the course
quality. This is part of the idea of being confident about yourself
and also helps with the collegiality of the class.
- Feel free, of course, to post anonymously to the feedback forum if
this makes it easier for you to express yourself more honestly. We do
request, though, that you try to be constructive in your postings even
here. The instructional staff are keen on making the
experience in this class a valuable and rewarding one while still
conveying to you whatever information you need to have by the end of
the semester. Your help through comments on this page can be quite
useful to our achieving this objective.
Last modified: August 27, 2019. Page maintained by ngopalan atsign umn dot edu.
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