Spring Clean Your Classroom: Clear Out These 8 Myths About Online Communities

Updated: May 20

Talking to instructors who are new to Yellowdig, we often find there are a number of misconceptions around student participation and the role of the instructor. We have compiled a list of 8 myths and debunked them with the reality we have seen across our company partners below!

Myth #1 - Students need prompts to create good discussions and focusing them on a single topic is the only way to drive good, focused discussion about course-related topics.

Reality - Prompting students too much kills conversations, constricts learning, decreases motivation to participate, and gives students deadlines, which typically increases procrastination.

  • Unprompted discussions create more natural, relevant, and valuable conversations and learning opportunities; focus more on students having back-and-forth conversations about content some of them have posted, not on everyone posting content.

  • This framework successfully mimics classroom conversations; you would not require every student to reply to the same question in a classroom.

  • Students are empowered to talk about things relevant to their lives and careers.

  • Conversations are allowed to ebb and flow naturally.

  • Course topics can be blended together, allowing for true integration across them.

Read more about un-prompted discussions: 8 Tips for High-Quality, Open Conversations.

Myth #2 - I need to review and grade every post to make sure students are posting valuable content.

Reality - By allowing the point system to automatically reward students who start and continue good conversations and then by adding additional recognition with comments, accolades, and point bumps, students are encouraged to create high-quality content.

  • Students who do not post quality content will be easily identified based on lack of interactions and reactions from others.

  • Poor posters earn fewer points because peers will not engage with their content.

  • Those who do lower quality work must create more of it to reach their point goals.

  • You can always adjust points if you feel they are not deserved.

Myth #3 - Smaller groups will create a more intimate setting and increased engagement; Large groups will overwhelm students.

Reality - There is a clear trade-off for smaller groups in that less content is available for students to read and get interested in compared to large communities.

  • In small groups students visit their communities less often to see what they may have missed, which hurts overall participation.

  • When students are in large communities in Yellowdig they still only see one post at a time as they scroll down the feed. Though the content in total might seem overwhelming, students consume it more like social media in that they find something interesting, read it, and then talk about it.

  • The only way large communities will feel overwhelming is if students think they have to try to consume everything, rather than just find something interesting and truly discuss it, which instructors should make clear by setting expectations.