When Pooja Sankar founded Piazza, the IIT-Kanpur alumnus was responding to a wish of her own, as well as thousands of teachers and students: to have a platform for collaborative learning that is better than dining room discussions in colleges and universities.
Around $6 billion funding and a New York Times profile later, the ex-Facebook engineer’s online social learning network for students and instructors is catching the attention of Ivy League universities.
This month onwards, Piazza will be used for collaboration by instructors and students taking Stanford University’s highly popular course on iPad and iPhone app development, one of the most downloaded classes in Apple’s iTunes U.
With enrolment through Piazza, the Stanford course will enable peer collaboration. The social learning process termed ‘Coding Together’ will enable students to work with peer mobile developers from around the world. This means they can learn Apps for iPhone & iPad, get help when getting stuck, and veteran coders can help newbies.
Free registration for the course closed on July 6. The classes started June 25 and will be in session through August 16.
The iPhone and iPad Development class had been downloaded over 10 million times, making it one of the most popular courses on iTunesU. Stanford students already use Piazza for the on-campus version of the class.
Pooja is a Stanford alumnus and had launched Piazza in the university last January. It was a success back then, with over 4000 students enrolling for social learning through Piazza.
Pooja started working on Piazza in 2009 and launched the beta in 2011. Anyone can create a class at Piazza’s platform. Under the guidance of their instructor, students can ask and answer questions round the clock, and collaborate in real time.
By late 2011, Piazza reported 96 per cent answer rate across over 1000 classes on its platform. This means 96% of all questions raised on Piazza were answered by peer learners and instructors, at an average response rate of 25 minutes.
The Palo Alto, California-based company raised $6 million funding this January, led by Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP).
The series A funding, in which seed investors Kapor Capital and Felicis Ventures also participated, will be used to expand the range of interactions supported on Piazza’s social platform.
Piazza also plans to expand its outreach efforts to hundreds of more schools.
Around 100,000 students -- including from 109 of the top 250 colleges in the USA -- are already on Piazza.
Besides Stanford, the US universities using Piazza include Georgia Tech, Berkeley, MIT, Cornell, Harvard, Columbia, the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, Purdue, Virginia Tech, the University of Waterloo, the University of British Columbia, Princeton, the University of Texas, and the University of Central Florida.
“Across every sector, the world is witnessing seismic shifts away from clunky, centrally-mandated software packages towards tools designed from the ground up to be social and collaborative. That wave is breaking in education, and Piazza is best positioned because of its ability to create positive engagement among users,” says Ethan Kurzweil, Vice President at BVP and a member of Piazza’s board of directors.
|GOT A TIP? TELL US.||LIKE TO WRITE? contribute to TS.|
Write a blog about your startup, get 5 or more plugs and your startup will be featured here.
TigerStartups - Chicago, IL