Updated: May 11
Dr. Vicki Hart, Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont, has been using Yellowdig for two and a half years to teach her graduate courses on epidemiology and biostatistics in the master of public health program. Classes for this program are 100% online and asynchronous, so students are never in real-time classes together.
It was still very important to find ways for these students to be able to connect, collaborate, and converse. That said, assignments in discussion boards and the LMS can deteriorate into check-the-box tasks that students do halfheartedly to get the grade. She wanted her students to have relevant and thoughtful interactions. Then she discovered Yellowdig. “We all have different ways of making this tool work for us.” Dr. Hart found Yellowdig to be the perfect solution for her diverse roster of students, many of whom are working professionals with busy schedules, demanding careers, and familial obligations.
Dr. Hart used Yellowdig differently than other discussion boards. From the beginning of every course, her syllabus encourages students to not only use Yellowdig for discussions, but also as a Q-and-A forum where students can rely on their peers for clarification and guidance. Not only do they usually get a response quicker (there are only so many hours in the day for Dr. Hart) but they also get to foster the kinds of relationships that are often missing from online courses.
Yellowdig helps students to grasp complex topics and engage in a meaningful way.
How did Dr. Hart use Yellowdig's virtual classroom software in her high level, science-based courses?
She encourages Q-and-A interactions by mentioning the forum often in class and by providing a lot of Yellowdig’s Accolades to students who are participating. Dr. Hart noticed that students make full use of Yellowdig’s comprehensive virtual classroom features. They don’t just go back and forth on a message board. Instead, they post pictures, upload equations, handwritten annotations, and generally display a penchant for creativity. This resulted in a high Conversion Ratio (comments per post) which is the greatest indicator for overall engagement as it implies there’s back and forth conversations occurring. Take a look at an example from her forum below.
*Please not that the image below is from Yellowdig's old post editor. The platform has since been updated.
When Dr. Hart went to quantify whether or not posting in a Help Forum had a positive impact on final grades, she discovered that there was a significant positive association in the final grade with asking, answering, or commenting on a question.
This post is a summary of a webinar hosted on 10/29/2020. If you would like to learn more about Vicki Hart's experience, watch the recording here.
If you loved what you read and would like to see how Yellowdig could work in your classrom next semester, be sure to sign up below for a demo.