Classroom interface Piazza launches free mobile app

Nathan Pensky · November 8, 2011 · Short URL:

Free Piazza mobile app for Android and iOS takes college classrooms to the cloud

Piazza, the online Q&A interface for college students and instructors, released Tuesday a mobile app for Android and iOS. Founded in 2009, Piazza offers a free online application for students and instructors to discuss classwork in real time.

Also announced Tuesday, Piazza reached a milestone in that its average student user currently stays on the app an average of 4 hours per night. The Piazza app gets 1 million "question views" per week, and 40k answers and edits.

Piazza, which has raised a total of $1.5 million from investors, including Felicis VentureKapor CapitalSequoia Capital, and SV Angel, has users at some of the top universities in the world, including Stanford, Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley, Cornell, and Columbia.  

Piazza works a bit like an online forum or wiki, where students can post questions in a window positioned on the right-hand side of the screen, while the middle window provides the user with classroom activity information.

At the bottom of the screen, there is a section where more in depth discussion can happen, a "Follow-up Discussion" window. These follow-up windows stay open until the instructor marks them as "resolved."

All modules can be commented on and can be voted in terms of relevance or accuracy, with students having the ability to put forward pressing questions by voting. instructors can mark answer boxes to posted questions with a "good answer" response, and students can "post an additional question" tab at the bottom of question boxes.

As would be the case in a regular classroom setting, instructors maintain control over the Piazza app. Instructors have more editing control in the application, with the ability to highlight certain answers to questions as correct, or highlight unanswered questions. Students can participate anonymously, unless the instructor turns off this function.

“We are astounded by the engagement and high volume of activity we are seeing across Piazza’s platform in such a short time,” said Piazza Founder and CEO Pooja Nath Sankar.

“We now see as many contributions to the site in a couple of weeks as we saw the entire first quarter of the year. We actually added a feature this Fall that senses when contributions are heavy so that we can automatically create e-mail digests for students working on particular issues,  rather than sending individual e-mails."

VatorNews talked with Piazza to learn more:

VatorNews: What are your success metrics?

Piazza: We have 70K new enrollments this Fall term, with a total cumulative enrollment now exceeding 110K. We are doing over 50k user sessions per day, and the average user engagement time per day is now over 4 hours

Why do colleges and universities need Piazza?

Universities need Piazza to engage students in a way that was never possible before. Today’s students find web interaction a normal function in everyday life and Piazza allows students and professors to engage 24/7. Using a Q&A style hub for each class, students can ask and answer questions and see what their peers are doing any time, day or night.

Which universities are currently using this technology?

We have some kind of presence in over 1,000 campuses with the highest penetration in schools like StanfordGeorgia TechBerkeleyMIT,HarvardCornell, Univ. of Illinois, Univ. of Michigan, and more.

How many students and instructors are currently using Piazza?

More than 2,500 professors and more 110,000 students are using Piazza.

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