Piazza: Homework as Social

As we’ve noted, social media sites have recently begun expanding their reach into the educational sphere in a variety of ways.  As the NY Times points out, this reach now extends to homework sites, including a new free service, Piazza:

Students post questions to their course page, which peers and educators can then respond to.  Instructors moderate the discussion, endorse the best responses and track the popularity of questions in real time.  Responses are also color-coded, so students can easily identify the instructor’s comments.

Piazza’s supporters claim that what sets this service apart from other educational software services, such as Blackboard, is their rapid response time.  They also claim that “Piazza [gives] students a community…” and provides students the opportunity to be more interactive with their fellow classmates. 

The impact of social media giants, like Facebook, Twitter, and Skype, has been that consumers now expect instantaneous feedback.  Piazza’s attempt to harness the power of social media is an attempt to satisfy this expectation.  Piazza allows students  to collaborate and receive assistance at the speed they’ve come to expect.  Kudos to Piazza for utilizing social media to improve the educational experience.

Using Social Media to Support Instruction

Earlier this year we mentioned how educators are using social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter and others to extend instruction outside of the classroom, even in cases of inclement weather.  As EducationNews.org reported this week, teachers in California are continuing to incorporate social media into their English classes.  “Rather than just the teacher reading student work, an entire class can read, review and give feedback on other students’ writing.”  Teachers claim that using social media as an educational conduit has also encouraged participation from students that are often too shy to raise their hand in a more traditional classroom setting – giving a voice and outlet to all students. 

And the utilization of social media sites as a tool to supplement instruction is not limited to the English classroom.  At MetaMetrics we’re trying to incorporate popular social media outlets into our own tools.  Our Math at Home utility, which allows students to locate targeted math resources at the right level of difficulty, now includes social networking features.  Based on the Quantile Framework for Mathematics, “Math at Home recommends various resources that students can add to their list of favorites.  Students can then print, email or share their list on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

In addition to encouraging participation in the virtual classroom during the school year, social media sites also support year-round instruction efforts by making resources available to students from any place at any time.  This is especially critical during the summer months when research shows so many students are susceptible to summer learning loss. As social media sites near ubiquity we hope that students will take advantage of these tools to review and solidify their skills.

MetaMetrics is an educational measurement organization. Our renowned psychometric team develops scientific measures of student achievement that link assessment with targeted instruction to improve learning.