December 23, 2020

This message is distributed to All-Instructors, Academic-Assistant-Deans, and Academic-Department-Managers.  (Click here to view description of distribution groups.)  

The following is being sent on behalf of the Instructional Support Team    



The Instructional Support Team wishes everyone a peaceful solstice/holiday season and a happy new year! We are looking forward to winter quarter and beyond. For today, a few wrap-up items for the year.

“What Works” videos
Video presentations from the fantastic “What Works” sessions in December 2020 are coming soon! Presentations are being added each day, but all will be available by December 28 (or potentially earlier).

Reminder - GauchoSpace Update and Outage on Monday, December 28
The next major update to GauchoSpace, updating the core code to Moodle 3.9, will take place on Monday, December 28, 2020. GauchoSpace will be unavailable that day from 8am to noon. Documentation of new features added to GauchoSpace from the Winter Quarter update can be found here.

Do you need to reuse videos from a past course’s GauchoCast folder?  See “Best Practices for Reusing GauchoCast Videos from Previous Courses.”

Changes in Terms of Use for Piazza:  While the University of California has been attempting to secure a long-term contract with Piazza, those attempts have been unsuccessful. As a result, beginning Winter quarter, Piazza users (students and faculty alike) will be exposed to solicitations for donations. This is clearly not desirable in a learning platform. For these reasons, faculty (across the system) are discouraged from using Piazza in their courses unless an agreement can be struck.

There are various supported discussion applications that can take the place of Piazza, and that are also supported by UCSB: GauchoSpace’s Forum and Q2A Forum (Reddit format) discussion tools, Nectir, and Google Chat. If you’d like to discuss alternatives, please contact or

If you choose to continue using Piazza, the version available will expose you and your students to donation solicitations. We hope you’ll consider switching platforms. If you’d like to read more about this situation and the UC’s ongoing effort to negotiate with Piazza, you can do so here.

Best wishes and thanks to everyone!

The Instructional Support Team