When access is too easy
I run a site where Edinburgh medical students can ask questions about dermatology anonymously, which I then answer. Other can see the questions and the answers, but nobody knows who asked a particular question. I run it because I like to think it might give me insights into what sort of topics cause problems for students. That it is anonymous, I hope, helps. It is behind a paywall in that only UoE students can use it. Overall it is used less than I had hoped for. Here is a story about an ed ‘startup’ Piazza. The telling quote which I picked up via Roger Schank @rogerschank is:
But he notes one drawback of Piazza that he is now wrestling with. The service is so easy for students to use that he worries people are using it as a crutch. “I got the feeling that students were asking the questions because that was easier than thinking,” Mr. Morrisett said. He is considering instituting a policy of intentionally leaving questions unanswered for the first 24 hours, to encourage students to work things out on their own.
I don’t think these criticisms apply to our own site but that may be because at present its use is fairly marginal. Difficulty is important.