Communicating with Students in a Large Course

For instructors teaching a large course, keeping up with communications between student, instructor and teaching assistants can feel overwhelming. The volume of messages and tracking them is challenging. At Cornell, web-based software such as Piazza can facilitate communications and information sharing between students, and dedicated email addresses for a large course can allow instructors to share email responsibilities while minimizing emails sent to their personal account. New tools such as CourseQ can automate the delivery of important class information when requested by students! Academic Technologies can help you set up either solution, or brainstorm with you to find another option.

This is a “free online gathering place where students can come together to ask, answer, and explore under the guidance of their instructors. With Piazza, you can easily answer questions, manage course materials, and track student participation.”


Course-related email
Centralizing course related emails allows you to assign a TA or staff member to monitor the account and track student emails and responses (e.g., inquiries about grades, waitlists, iClickers, makeups, and other course logistics).

Request a dedicated course email (‘Resource Account’) through the Exchange Account Manager. Find instructions for creating a new dedicated course email here

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Chatbots to the rescue!

A tool we recently met is the locally-grown CourseQ chatbot, which can be used by students to track assignments, participate in classroom polling exercises, get timely access to course documents and more.

The CourseQ messaging platform built here in Ithaca, can be used by professors and students in the classroom as well as by other groups on campus such as student clubs, sports teams, alumni groups and academic departments. It essentially allows students to send a text message to an automated system that responds with relevant course information. Think: all your syllabus information available to students on demand, at any time, with little work from you. You can also use it for tracking assignments, classroom polling, group notifications and more, all via text messages on the go.

The CourseQ team is currently looking for beta testers. If you are an instructor who might be interested in deploying CourseQ into your class, contact them at for a demo.

Posted in Community, Tech Tips for Faculty, Web


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