Pooja Nath, the creator of Piazza was one of the only women at the India Institute of Technology Kandur where she studied. While there as her male peers collaborated on homework, she felt ostracized and worked alone. During Ms. Nath’s first year of Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, this feeling of isolation became the inspiration for Piazza.
On this site, students can ask questions (say for a problem set), and educators and peers can respond to them. Moderators can recommend answers, and the site’s notification alerts lead to quick answers (Nath claims on average a question receives an answer in 14 minutes).
Piazza’s metrics are promising, users are visiting the site, staying logged-on, and returning. Colleges are beginning to adopt Piazza; it has grown from 3 partner universities to more than 300 in just a year. Professors and students are equally excited by Piazza, it exists as a productive community, especially during the odd hours of the night which students often use for work.
Nonetheless, Piazza has struggled to increase its profitability, a problem Nath places second to user engagement. She notes, “We have some ideas, but we’re not ready to say this is how we’re going to do it. We’re going to stay focused on keeping our engagement rates high.”
Have you heard of Piazza? Does it sounds like a good idea to you?
How do you think social networking is changing education?