It’s ten in the evening and you find yourself utterly stuck on understanding a poem, or a math problem, or a science theory. You can’t email your professor clarification because it is hours after their office hours ended. Your roommate isn’t taking a class remotely related to yours, so he’s of no help, either, and you doubt anyone you know on Facebook could be of any assistance. For the hundreds of students who find themselves encountering similar issues of having questions with no one to help answer them during all hours of the day, one engineering graduate has invented a solution – Piazza, a social network that will help you with all of your homework and class needs.
Piazza invites instructors and classmates to interact on an Internet-based platform where they can post questions, answer other students’ inquiries, and begin intensive class-related discussions. Essentially, it replaces the need for email chains and allows students to help one another out without setting up study group times or exchanging phone numbers.
The growing college resource was created by Pooja Nath, an engineering graduate from the India Institute of Technology Kanpur (I.T.T.), according to an article published in The New York Times. As the first woman from her hometown to attend the esteemed school – and certainly the first to graduate from it – it is unsurprising to discover that she dreamed up the concept of Piazza while a first-year student at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
“The whole idea of Piazza stems from the dynamics that I observed at I.I.T. From the sidelines I saw how effective it was to get immediate help, from peers in the same room,” Piazza said to The New York Times.
Already Piazza is proving to be a hit, growing from being exclusive to only three colleges to becoming available to more than 330 in only the last year. In fact, at Piazza’s birth place of Stanford University, more than half of the undergraduate students are registered users of the class aid resource. The popularity of Piazza is projected to increase in the coming years, especially as it proves successful for current users, enticing former skeptics to give it a shot.
Professors like Jennifer Rexford, a computer science professor at Princeton University, are confident in Piazza’s potential. Rexford told the New York Times that as a result of using Piazza, her office hours have been reduced because her students are finding it easier to communicate through the online medium rather than depending on one-on-one teacher-student interaction. Rexford even uses Piazza as a way to rank and reward the students who are the most helpful.
Though Piazza has still yet to turn a profit since its introduction, Nath said that she does not mind. “We’re going to stay focused on keeping our engagement rates high,” she said.
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