Piazza Takes Study Groups into the Digital Age

Pooja Nath was one of the few women to study engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur in India. Since most of her classmates were males, Nath had a hard time finding people to study with.

“Back then, no one owned a laptop, there was no Internet in the dorm rooms,” said Nath. “So everyone in my class would be working in the computer lab together. But all the guys would be communicating with each other, getting help so fast, and I would be on the sidelines just watching.”

This difficult experience during her undergraduate studies prompted Nath to create a website called Piazza. Nath created Piazza in 2009 when she was studying at Stanford Graduate School of Business as a way for students to get help with their studies, even if they can’t find a study group that works for them.

Piazza allows students to post their questions to a course page. Other students and the professor can see these posts and then respond to them if they can contribute something helpful. The responses are color coded, which makes it easier for users to distinguish the professor’s comments from students’ comments. Unlike some other websites that offer similar services, Piazza has a very quick response time; on average, it only take 14 minutes to receive an answer to a question that is posted on Piazza. This could be due to the extent that users use Piazza: on average, they spend two to three hours a day on the website.

“With Piazza, it’s about turning data into actionable intelligence,” said Aydin Senkut, a Piazza investor. “We want to empower people to ask and answer questions.”

Piazza is growing quickly. In the past year, the website has expanded from being available on only three college to more than 330 colleges now. Stanford was the first college to start using Piazza. Currently, Piazza is somewhat of a small community of learners, available whenever and wherever the students need it.

“Piazza gave the students a community, especially in the middle of the night, when the instructors were sleeping,” said Jennifer Rexford, a computer science professor at Princeton University. “The students were more interactive in general, and it was time saver all-around.”

Sounds like a cool website to me. To see if Piazza is currently being used at your school and to sign up today, click here.

Via The NY Times








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