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Case Study with One of the Nation’s Largest Online Degree Providers

How Yellowdig powered a leading national online university to increase learner engagement and retention in just one semester

Program outcomes show secondary potential benefits including

less instructor admin time spent, lower enrollment costs.

Challenge: How does one of the top online degree providers meaningfully drive engagement and retention?


As one of the fastest growing segments in the higher-ed landscape, online learning relies heavily on learning management systems, or LMSs. The challenge LMSs present for most online institutions is that their native discussion platforms often struggle to measurably increase two priority key performance indicators: student engagement and retention. Compounding the issue, these metrics likely have the ability to reduce teaching and ultimately enrollment costs.


This was precisely the situation one of the nation’s largest online degree providers found itself in. And it was determined to do something about it. 

Solution: Yellowdig, a purpose-built platform with a proven track record.

The school turned to Yellowdig, an easy-to-integrate, student-friendly digital engagement solution that had been gaining traction in both the online and traditional academic settings. 


In close collaboration with the Yellowdig team, the university planned a semester-long test that would put Yellowdig up against Blackboard’s discussion boards amongst roughly 3,000 students spread across sections of its Business Ethics and Introduction to Criminal Justice courses as well as an Economics course, a Finance course and a Marketing course. The school also launched the solution in its honors courses. 


The question was simple: could Yellowdig drive more engagement and retention and ultimately have the potential to impact teaching and enrollment costs?

Results: Engagement and retention see big bumps.

Across the Economics, Finance and Marketing courses, students using Yellowdig were nearly twice as engaged, as defined by posts per seat. Engagement amongst the Finance segment alone was 112% better.

The retention data was equally impressive. Enrollment in the next term—a key measure of retention—saw increases across the board. Learners using Yellowdig in the Marketing course  saw a 7.1% increase in next semester enrollment compared to those using the standard message boards. The Economics and Finance courses saw bumps of 5.1% and 4.3%, respectively. 


Yellowdig also drove down course drop rates by as much as 1.0% while boosting class attendance by up to 3.0%.

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Opportunities: Engagement and retention point to potential cost reductions


School administrators continue to expand Yellowdig reach through thoughtful testing. They are eager to build the case that the solution’s repeatable, predictable effectiveness can reduce the amount of time instructors spend on manual admin tasks and increase their allocation to higher value work such as teaching and student enrichment. These outcomes will ultimately result in lower costs for the institution and its students alike.

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