Teaching with Technology

Josepha Kurdziel, (josephak@umich.edu) from Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, LSA, demonstrated and discussed her use of the wireless classroom response systems to involve students in active learning and critical thinking in large lectures at the CRLT IT Luncheon on Friday February 4, 2005.

You can see her PowerPoint presentation (in note form) and watch a preview, and/or an edited version of the presentation.

PowerPoint notes - .pdf 
Preview of Presentation
IT Luncheon Presentation

Brief Description: 

The online discussion is a familiar form of online writing for most students and instructors. Often, the instructor posts a question or prompt, and students respond either to the initial prompt, or to the posts of their classmates. The technologies available today offer many options for encouraging, organizing, and moderating online discussions. 

Tips for Using Online Discussion Tools


  • Define clear goals and objectives for the online discussion.
  • Organize the online conference clearly by category and topic ahead of time.
  • Provide detailed instructions for students, including student roles and responsibilities.
  • Establish rules for appropriate and inappropriate behaviors before starting discussions.
  • Require students to log in for a certain number of times each week.
  • Establish clear expectations and standards for assessing student performance in the online discussion.
  • Distinguish between two types of conferences: a) formal and b) informal ones.
  • Create an outline of different types of activities for the online conferencing/discussion.
  • Make online discussion/conferencing an integral part of the course. (Do not separate what is happening in the conference from what is happening in the face-to-face class meetings.)
  • Establish a clear starting and ending time for each discussion topic.
  • Direct students to technology training classes, online tutorials, and any other assistance when necessary.

Facilitation Read more »


Do you see the same student  questions over and over on email? Would you like to extend student discussion beyond the classroom? If so, Piazza can help. Read on for an overview of Piazza's functions, recommendations for using it effectively, and videos on how to get started.

Features of Piazza

  • Piazza is integrated within Canvas, supported by ITS, and available to all U-M instructors free of charge.
  • Piazza supports organized online discussions and Q&A that students can access 24/7.
  • Students can comment on answers or post follow-up inquiries.
  • Students can edit questions and answers wiki-style.
  • Instructors can respond to questions and endorse a student's answer.
  • There's a LaTeX editor for equations and support for multimedia.
  • Tags facilitate targeted searches.
  • Analytics for student usage help instructors assess participation.

Classroom Challenges Solved Through Piazza

Faculty used Piazza in diverse, and sometimes unexpected, ways to address teaching and learning challenges specific to their courses. Read more »

Answering the same student questions over and over... An inbox full of student emails... Too little peer-to-peer interaction in your classroom... If these challenges sound familiar to you, you may want to check out the online discussion platform, Piazza.

Piazza logo

A recent CRLT study of University of Michigan students and faculty (from Winter 2013) found that Piazza is a great tool for answering student questions, reducing email volume, facilitating student interaction between classes, and increasing the number of students participating in class discussion.
Available through CTools, Piazza can help you promote student engagement outside the classroom while keeping the workload manageable. Instead of emailing you with questions after class, students can post questions to Piazza, and other students or GSIs can answer them. As the instructor, you can also answer questions, endorse select student answers, provide feedback, edit student responses, and view reports of student participation. One key strength of Piazza is the ease of organizing questions: you can create tags or folders for each lecture of assignment, so students can easily find out if the question they have has already been answered. 
If you are a faculty member who is interested in learning more about Piazza or would like to try it out in your class, join the CRLT on September 23rd at 8:30am for Emerging Tech: Piazza, a workshop where you will get a hands-on guided tour of Piazza and learn about potential uses for it in your classroom. If you are a GSI and would like to learn more about Piazza, CRLT will be hosting Next Steps with IT on October 4th at 9am. This workshop will cover the use of multiple classroom tech tools including Piazza and UM Box.
Brief Description: 

Almost any college course will involve some form of testing and grading. Technologies like online testing and gradebooks can make testing and grading more effective and more efficient for instructors and for students. Some tools designed to be used for surveys are included in this category because they can be effectively used for online testing as well.

Tips for Using Testing and Grading Tools

  • Align practice with your course goals Online quizzes should reflect the important understandings and skills you want students to derive from your course, rather than trivia questions designed only to show they did (or at least skimmed) the readings.
  • Make an investment in question banks that you can reuse over time. Many instructors note that students save copies of the online quiz questions for later studying. Often, these study resources are shared a within study groups and among friends. If this is a concern for you, consider creating multiple versions of a question that test the same basic idea, so that a student is unlikely to encounter a questions he/she has seen before. This is a time-intensive task, but question pools can often be re-used from one year to the next, and even shared among instructors.
  • Clearly communicate to students what resources (if any) they can use while taking an online quiz. Are the quizzes open book? open note? open to all resources on the net?
  • Provide accommodations or alternatives for students with disabilities. Canvas has simple options to extend time for individual students who need it, for example. If screen readers or other assistive technology do not adequately render your quiz content (e.g. images), another option may be necessary.