Fri Guest Lecture: Piazza and the Classroom that Never Closes

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Dawn Song

Feb 27, 2012, 12:47:39 PM2/27/12
to, dawnsong
Title: Piazza and the Classroom that Never Closes


Can we make higher education better even as we make it cheaper? The
foreseeable budgetary environment suggests that we must become more
efficient at delivering higher education, but while solutions like larger
classes and faster graduation times may cut costs, they seem unlikely to
improve the quality of higher education. Piazza is trying to solve that
problem. By providing a platform for students and instructors to engage
with one another throughout the day, Piazza helps create a classroom that
never closes. And by engaging students more deeply in the process of
asking and answering questions, Piazza can free up instructors' time to
devote to individual instruction or the creation of improved teaching
materials. Philip Soffer, an Internet veteran who works as VP of
Operations for Piazza, will discuss the company, the opportunities and
challenges of working in higher education, and what we've learned about
social learning across several hundred schools and thousands of classes.

Speaker: Philip Soffer


Philip Soffer is the VP of Operations for Piazza. He graduated Summa cum
Laude from Cornell University and moved west in the early 1990s to study
history at Berkeley. But in the mid-1990's, he heard the siren song of the
Internet and returned to his hacker roots, signing on with a fledgling
company called Plumtree Software where he became the director of product
management. The company invented the market for enterprise portals,
experienced an IPO, and was subsequently absorbed into Oracle. Soffer then
joined Emeryville-based Lithium Technologies, which makes the online
community software used by hundreds of large businesses for their customer
support and outreach. Here he ran engineering, product, and marketing
while also serving on the board of directors for education start-up
Naviance. He joined Piazza in July 2011.

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