Using Yellowdig in an Online MBA Leadership Class

Quick Facts:

Institution Name:

The University of Delaware

Department/

College:

Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics

Level of Course:

Graduate (MBA)

Course Subject:

Leadership

Instructor:

Jack Baroudi

The University of Delaware

Title of Instructor:

Senior Associate Dean of Academic
Programs

Instructor's Degree(s):

Ph.D. in business administration, major: computer applications & information systems, minor: organizational behavior, New York University
M Phil., New York University
BSBA in MIS & quantitative methods, Boston University

Number of  community participants:

52

"In the course I teach, a positive leadership course, a lot of people are trying to figure out how to be better managers and leaders. And they always walk away with skills that they feel like has really changed the way they view leadership, because positive leadership is really a new paradigm for leaders. Since it is scientifically based, research based...and there's a new way to view things and a new way to approach things. And that to me is exciting. My students find it exciting." ~ Jack Baroudi, Senior Associate Dean of Academic Partnerships

The courses that Baroudi teaches are a part of the University of Delaware's online MBA program. Their MBA program has been recognized by the US News and World Report top Online MBA list as drastically increasing their student engagement. This jump in engagement led to a 15 spot increase in their ranking on the list, up to 32. In this MBA program, one course that he teaches is 4 weeks, and another one course is 7 weeks. Both are fully asynchronous with 1 hour per week of a synchronous video meeting that is recorded and optional. The course titles are: Positive Leadership and Building Emotional Intelligence and Critical Thinking. In this case study all of the statistics will be referencing Baroudi's 2021 Spring Building Emotional Intelligence and Critical Thinking course.

By The Numbers

Comments

972

Comments

5.25

Conversation Ratio

Conversation Ratio

0

Required Synchronous  Lectures

Required Synchronous Lectures

Results

Similar to how many instructors start off an in-person course by having students introduce themselves, Baroudi uses Yellowdig to give students the opportunity to share about themselves to the whole class asynchronously. Students can share a written bio, a picture - maybe even one of them doing something they love or related to the course, or even a short video they record on the platform. Instead of just taking note of students who align with your interests or may be good to network with, posting to Yellowdig enables students to immediately start connecting with each other.
This is something he does in every class because “reading the introductions that people share about themselves gives much more of a sense of who's in the class, who your classmates are. And I think that that's helpful for getting the course off to a good start,” Baroudi points out.
Using Yellowdig instead of a synchronous video call or even an in-person discussion for these introductions can be very benefi cial to make every student feel comfortable and included. For example, say you’re a more introverted student or as Barudi explains, “you're the only diverse member in a class, Yellowdig sort of levels the playing fi eld. Everybody gets a chance to participate. Nobody's gonna feel like a second class citizen or feel like I can' get my voice heard.”
How Baroudi views the role of an instructor in a virtual classroom community
Using Yellowdig for your class’s student engagement strategy makes the instructor’s role differ greatly from using a traditional discussion board. Given the nature of the auto-grading, an instructor’s time no longer needs to be spent assigning a value to each student’s writing. Instead, an instructor can use their time to converse with students and provide real feedback and support.
The beauty of the gamification system is that it motivates students to create a lot of conversation, and as Baroudi can attest: “the discussion is quite robust, eventually, it gets to the point where I can't read every word. I like to provide feedback early on, on everybody's posts, just so that they know that I'm engaged, and I'm paying attention, and I'm reading. And then as the thing gets moving, like after the second week, generally people know I'm going through and so on, then I tend to use the little
emojis
to let them know that I was there. Unless it was something particularly valuable, then I'll make up a longer comment, but it works well. The students are motivated to do it.” How Baroudi uses Yellowdig to keep his class relevant
An up-to-date class is sought out by all MBA seekers. Nobody is getting an MBA to learn what was important in Business last year — they want the most up-and-coming methods and information.
Baroudi shared how his students in Yellowdig help him refresh his course content every semester. “They're posting articles, they're posting videos, and what I've discovered is I will take a lot of the content that they post, and I'll end up using it when I revise my course. Because what'll happen is they'll fi nd new material, they'll fi nd material that contradicts something that I have in the course, that might be a more recent discovery, or whatever. And so I'm always taking that material, looking at it, and then making some decisions of how I want to change, the next time I roll the course out. And that helps me keep things very current, and also helps students know that because I tell them ‘this is a really good article, I'm going to assign this in the next class.’ So they know they're having an impact in terms of the future participants in the class.” Building connections does not happen in a big lecture hall or
clunky Zoom classroom
. A smoother and more personalized approach like Yellowdig is necessary. Take a look at how connected students in his online course are in the network graph
generated on Yellowdig's platform below.

Network Graph showing student engagement and connection

Over the course of the semester you also see that the number of comments his students created far exceeds the number posts with a conversation ratio (comments/posts) of 5.25. The typical “1 post and 2 comments” discussion board would have a conversation ratio of 2 for reference. Baroudi’s class’s high ratio shows that students were having more
in-depth discussions
around topics and were going back and forth with each other.

185 posts, 972 comments in discussion

Overall, Baroudi was able to increase student engagement in his 100% remote course by using Yellowdig. For a completely online MBA, student engagement is a critical aspect for course designers to focus on because the students will not naturally have a way to engage with their peers. Yellowdig is the perfect bridge for students to feel connected to their classmates no matter if they are learning from down the street or across the ocean.

"I think they find that Yellowdig, even though it's asynchronous, does replicate to some extent, the in person, in course, kind of conversations you would get if you were holding a class in session. So I really like that part of it."

Jack Baroudi, Senior Associate Dean of Academic Partnerships

About the Instructor

Jack Baroudi

Jack Baroudi

Baroudi is a well-respected faculty member at the University of Delaware. He has received awards such as the Excellence in Teaching Award from UD and NYU, Designated a Highly-Cited Reseaercher by the Institute of Scientific Information and much more. He has had business experience as an organizational consultant, Director of Deutsche Bank, Principal at Morgan Stanley to name a few. He is critical to the Online MBA program's continued success.

About the Institution

The University of Delaware

The University of Delaware