Some of you that work in education have probably seen that Piazza is moving to a paid model starting next month.
As an educator and a huge fan of Discourse, I hope that the developers see this as a big opportunity for Discourse to move into the education space. I guess I see three ways of supporting this:
- Providing great instructions for instructors or IT staff who want to set up self-hosted Discourse instances. (Hosting on-site addresses many FERPA issues.) Really idiot proof stuff. Remember: many of these people do not usually set up anything, which is what attracted them to Piazza in the first place. Perhaps there would also be a way for Discourse to charge for remote support for these installations?
- Some kind of paid educational-forward package. There are probably a common set of plugins that you could provide that would recreate some Piazza-like features which might help ease the transition. You’ll need to meet FERPA requirements.
- Better multisite support, since a department may want to set up one Discourse installation to support multiple courses.
You’d also need to examine the pricing models. Piazza is pretty rough for department-only licenses, since my understanding is that the only cover students in that department. So non-majors taking departmental courses are not covered. This is kind of an obvious and frankly pretty clumsy money grab—many departments teach courses to mixed populations, and the optics of providing a course forum that is only free to your own students are pretty bad. But, for example, a departmental license for up to 3000 students is $12K per year. Compare that with the $3600 for the enterprise Discourse plan which, I suspect, if properly configured with multisite, could easily support the same population.
Anyway—I’m already a very happy Discourse user, and so the whole Piazza mess is kind of pass the popcorn time for me . But I’ll be rooting for Discourse to make some headway in this space! Overall as a forum you’re already a decade ahead of Piazza, but I’m assuming that they’ll start actually updating the site now that they have a revenue stream.
But I’m curious to hear what other instructors think. What are the conversations at your institution surrounding this change looking like?