Using Zulip for a class

Welcome to Zulip! This pages offers some tips for using Zulip for a class. If this is your first time using Zulip, we recommend checking out Getting started with Zulip to get oriented.

Zulip works great as the communication hub for your class, providing a single place for:

  • Posting announcements and lecture notes
  • Answering students’ questions
  • Collecting feedback from students
  • Coordination among teaching staff
  • Virtual office hours

Posting lecture notes and announcements

Subscribe to email notifications for streams such as #announcements to make sure you never miss an important message.

Many classes use a dedicated stream to post general announcements, e.g.:

  • #announcements > office hours: My office hours this week will be rescheduled from Mon, Oct 11 2021, 1:00 PM to Thu, Oct 14 2021, 3:30 PM.

Share lecture notes and reading materials with drag-and-drop file uploads, e.g.:

  • #Unit 3: Sorting algorithms > lecture notes: Here are the notes from today’s lecture. lecture notes 10/2.pdf You can view a recording of the lecture here.

Formatting tips

Answering students’ questions

In Zulip, streams determine who receives a message. Topics are light-weight subjects for individual conversations. You can more about streams and topics here.

Zulip works best when each conversation has its own topic. When you have a question to ask, simply start a new topic! For example, one might see the following topics in a stream where a lecture and the corresponding assignment are being discussed:

  • problem 2a clarification
  • question about slide 7
  • code not compiling
  • LaTeX diagram help

Zulip will show auto-complete suggestions for existing topics as you type, which helps surface relevant previous conversations. You can also use the search bar to check whether a question has already been addressed.

You can mention the person who asked a question to make sure they see timely answers.

Resolving topics

When a question has been answered, you can mark a topic as resolved. This makes it easy for course staff to see which conversations still require their attention.

Coordination among teaching staff

Use private streams to coordinate among course staff, e.g.:

  • #staff > homework 2 exercise 3b: How many points should I take off for this? The assignment says clearly to use Python 3 syntax.

    print result

Virtual office hours

Zulip works great for virtual office hours! With a dedicated thread for each question, it's easy to have several discussions at once.

  • Course staff can respond to multiple questions in parallel, making efficient use of their time.
  • Students can participate in real time, or learn by reading the conversations afterwards.