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Is Yellowdig Just a Discussion Board?

 

What's the difference between Yellowdig and the discussion board offered in Canvas, Blackboard, etc?

 

Learning Management Systems offer a discussion board feature.  However, this feature is (1) text heavy, (2) visually unappealing, and (3) treated as a prompt-based, transactional assignment occurring on a weekly or bi-weekly basis throughout a course.  Instructors post a prompt, then learners login and reply to that prompt for credit.  Once complete for any given week, there's no reason for learners to go back in and view other posts, or to engage with other learners.

 

Here's how Yellowdig is different:

Similar to familiar social media, Yellowdig offers learners and instructors the ability to @mention other users in comments and posts, to drop hyperlinks from articles into posts (automatically embedding a thumbnail image), share videos, like, love, bookmark posts, and more. Additionally, #hashtags can be used to organize content organically as conversation builds.
Administrators and instructors have the ability to enable Yellowdig's automated point system. The point system can be customized and configured to meet the goals of every individual instructor, or can be set at an organization-wide level by Instruction Designers or other administrative parties. Learners earn points by posting, commenting, receiving comments, receiving feedback, likes, loves, etc. This point system helps spark the initial conversations in Yellowdig, and drives engagement to new levels.
When Yellowdig is integrated with the LMS, this integration includes the option of grade book integration. By linking Yellowdig to the LMS grade book, instructors are able to collect participation grades in Yellowdig automatically (based on the customizable Yellowdig point system, set by the instructor). Yellowdig 'points' are automatically converted to a percentage of the overall course grade, based on the instructor's assigned value for Yellowdig within the overall course grade structure. This automatic grading saves instructors multiple hours of time each week.
Yellowdig provides an Analytics Dashboard for both learners and instructors. Learners see how they stack up compared to classmates, and which areas of participation they can improve upon. Instructors see class participation levels, common themes being discussed, and a topic heat map.
Administrators and instructors have the ability to set "participation thresholds" for their learners. For example, "If a learner doesn't log in to Yellowdig in 6 days, please send them an automatic email reminder to participate." These customizable threshold settings assist in preventing learner dropout. By catching learners before they forget to meet scheduled due dates for participation, we find learners don't drop a class 10 days in after missing their first week's participation grade (simply in fear that they won't earn a perfect score).
Administrators and instructors have the ability to enable "anonymous posting" in Yellowdig. As a result, learners are able to become anonymous at any point (to post or to leave a comment on another post). While learners appear anonymous to their peers, administrators and instructors can always see the identity of any user. This anonymous feature is great for providing candid peer feedback, or to discuss sensitive topics as necessary.
Pins (or posts) in Yellowdig can include photos, videos, code blocks for computer code, LaTeX for equations, and polls. If exterior articles or stories are found online, copying and pasting an existing URL automatically adds a thumbnail image or the video itself to the pin (or post).
Instructors or administrators are able to create "Topics" for any board in Yellowdig. These topics can be made mandatory for all pins (or posts). When learners post, their pin must be linked to one or more topics. These topics are used to provide data to instructors on which categories, chapters, ideas, etc are being discussed by their learners. Additionally, topics are a great way for learners to study content before exams.

Why Not Just Use Facebook?

 

Professors and TA’s at colleges and universities frequently create Facebook Groups for their enrolled students to communicate with one another, ask questions, and discuss course content.  Facebook Groups are free to create, free to join, and easy to manage.  The real difference between Facebook and Facebook-alternatives like Yellowdig is that we are not complicit in sharing data. Facebook’s business model relies on selling and sharing user data, whereas EdTech companies live and breathe by meeting FERPA standards. FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974,  is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.

 

Here at Yellowdig, we meet FERPA requirements, and implement additional methods of data protection beyond what FERPA requires. When colleges and universities license Yellowdig, we store all of their data via Amazon Web Services, and their instructor and learner data belongs to the institution.  There is no Yellowdig user data shared outside of the institution's Yellowdig account.  Below are a few of the methods our engineering team takes to ensure data protection and privacy:

 

  • (1) We keep the vast majority of our AWS storage in Oregon (us-west-2), which is a FERPA-approved storage environment.

  • (2) We use firewalls to ensure that only privileged applications can access student data.

  • (3) We use an audit log system where breaches can be alerted, intrusion detection.

  • (4) We automate security scans of our software.

  • (5) We use the CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) system to scan all images.

  • (6) We complete automated security scans.  

  • (7) We use mutual TLS. If two services want to talk to each other, they use private keys to do so.

  • (8) We encrypt our secrets in version control.

  • (9) We do regular third-party security audits at the request of customers.

  • (10) By storing all Yellowdig data via AWS, we prevent physical access to our servers.

 

On top of these privacy differences, Facebook doesn't offer the following Yellowdig features:

Yellowdig integrates with any Learning Management System, by connecting via LTI. Yellowdig can live in the LMS sidebar, either as a standalone feature, or in place of the "Discussions" tab, or within the "Assignments" tab. The location of Yellowdig is up to the organization.
When Yellowdig is integrated with the LMS, this integration includes the option of grade book integration. By linking Yellowdig to the LMS grade book, instructors are able to collect participation grades in Yellowdig automatically (based on the customizable Yellowdig point system, set by the instructor). Yellowdig 'points' are automatically converted to a percentage of the overall course grade, based on the instructor's assigned value for Yellowdig within the overall course grade structure. This automatic grading saves instructors multiple hours of time each week.
Administrators and instructors have the ability to enable "anonymous posting" in Yellowdig. As a result, learners are able to become anonymous at any point (to post or to leave a comment on another post). While learners appear anonymous to their peers, administrators and instructors can always see the identity of any user. This anonymous feature is great for providing candid peer feedback, or to discuss sensitive topics as necessary.
Administrators and instructors have the ability to enable Yellowdig's automated point system. The point system can be customized and configured to meet the goals of every individual instructor, or can be set at an organization-wide level by Instruction Designers or other administrative parties. Learners earn points by posting, commenting, receiving comments, receiving feedback, likes, loves, etc. This point system helps spark the initial conversations in Yellowdig, and drives engagement to new levels.
Administrators and instructors have the ability to set "participation thresholds" for their learners. For example, "If a learner doesn't log in to Yellowdig in 6 days, please send them an automatic email reminder to participate." These customizable threshold settings assist in preventing learner dropout. By catching learners before they forget to meet scheduled due dates for participation, we find learners don't drop a class 10 days in after missing their first week's participation grade (simply in fear that they won't earn a perfect score).
Yellowdig provides an Analytics Dashboard for both learners and instructors. Learners see how they stack up compared to classmates, and which areas of participation they can improve upon. Instructors see class participation levels, common themes being discussed, and a topic heat map.
Instructors or administrators are able to create "Topics" for any board in Yellowdig. These topics can be made mandatory for all pins (or posts). When learners post, their pin must be linked to one or more topics. These topics are used to provide data to instructors on which categories, chapters, ideas, etc are being discussed by their learners. Additionally, topics are a great way for learners to study content before exams.
Since Yellowdig can live and sit within the existing LMS, it's often requested that the appearance of Yellowdig match the existing LMS (or the institutional branding). We can update the colors and design of Yellowdig to match your existing interface, so learners and instructors don't even realize they're using a third-party product.

Who Uses Yellowdig?

 

Here are the various types of institutions using Yellowdig:

 

  • Community Colleges
  • Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Non-profit Institutions
  • For-profit Institutions
  • State Schools
  • Business Schools
  • Medical Schools
  • Online Programs
  • Distance Learning Programs
  • Adult Learning Programs
  • Continuing Education Programs
  • Nursing Schools
  • Technical Schools
  • Blended Learning Programs
  • Masters Programs
  • Doctoral Programs
  • International Schools
  • OPM's (Online Program Management companies)
  • MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) providers
  •  
  • Here are the various types of courses using Yellowdig:

  •  
  • Undergraduate courses
  • Graduate courses
  • PhD courses
  • Corporate Learning courses
  • STEM courses
  • Liberal Arts courses
  • Studio Art courses
  • Writing courses
  • Language courses
  • Computer Science courses
  • Learning Design courses
  • Advanced STEM courses
  • Business School courses
  • Medical School courses
  • Law School courses
  •  
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