Piazza: A Homework Help Site for the Facebook Generation

One of the great advantages afforded by social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is the immediacy with which we can communicate regardless of physical proximity. Stanford business student Pooja Nath has come up with a way to harness that immediacy for educational purposes: Piazza, a site that gives classes of students a place to investigate and discuss their coursework remotely. How can students and faculty use Piazza to their advantage?

piazza

A Familiar Language

College students have many ways of interacting online, and a few of them even have an educational twist. Among the prevailing sites in that category is Blackboard, a multipurpose online teaching tool that provides message boards for students looking to share reactions to reading assignments or pose questions about difficult course material. As anyone heavily involved in Internet networking can tell you, though, communication through message boards has lately taken a backseat to more immersive, immediate social networking outlets.

That seems to be the driving force behind Piazza, a website developed by Pooja Nath that promises its users 'a new way to Q&A.' Piazza's powered by the same kind of interactivity that makes Facebook and Twitter so gratifying - users' posts show up in a timeline of questions (not unlike the timeline that lists your Facebook friends' status updates) and those in your network (fellow classmates, more than likely) can answer or otherwise engage with the questions as they see fit, just like commenting on Facebook. According to a New York Times article on the site, the average Piazza question's answered in 14 minutes. Though that may not be as quickly as your friends comment on your Facebook posts, it can certainly beat waiting around for someone to navigate through Blackboard's message boards to reply to you.

Piazza also allows for teachers to interact with their student charges. In another feature borrowed from Facebook, educators can approve (or 'like') student responses to questions, indicating the teacher's endorsement of that particular answer. Meanwhile, on the Twitter front, Piazza's users can employ hashtags to make posts searchable by specific keywords, allowing both students and teachers to easily see all the discussion about a certain topic.

A Boon for Educators

What else can Piazza do for teachers? One professor told The New York Times that the service allowed her to cut back on office hours since students could ask her questions at all hours of the day. Additionally, Piazza ended up completely replacing her traditional class e-mail list, making sending mass messages to students a lot easier. Perhaps most unexpectedly, Piazza also partially allows educators to track student participation within a course; it can show teachers which students are most engaged with class material, at least in an online setting.

Piazza's currently in use in roughly 330 schools, a significant jump from its original three a few years previous. At the moment it's a free site expanding its user base primarily by word-of-mouth, and Nath intends to keep it that way. She believes that when students work together to solve problems, aided by an immediate and rapid exchange of information, great work can get done. Will more schools soon see the virtue of Piazza in fostering that environment?

Piazza's not the only social networking site designed with learning in mind. Check out iUniv.tv.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Concordia University Portland

    Concordia University Portland responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Concordia University Portland:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • American University

    American University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at American University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Seton Hall University

    Seton Hall University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Seton Hall University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Ashford University

    Ashford University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Ashford University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Independence University

    Independence University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Tulane University

    Tulane University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Tulane University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado State University Global

    Colorado State University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado State University Global:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Herzing University

    Herzing University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Herzing University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. Next »