Integrating Real World Relevance in Your Course featuring Dr. Ken Murphy from UCI
Watch the full webinar here
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 0:29
Hello everyone and welcome to the webinar we're gonna get her started in a little bit we'll give people a couple of minutes more minutes to settle in and we'll get started?
All right, let's go ahead and get started. My name is Brian Kracke him the partnership specialists here at Yellowdig. And today we're joined by Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor of teaching operations and decision technologies at the Paul Merage School of Business and University of California Irvine. Ken, welcome!
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 3:20
Hi, how's it going?
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 3:23
You want to tell us a little bit about yourself and give us an idea of why we're here today? Sure.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 3:29
I've been a faculty member pretty much my entire career. So we're getting close to 30 years. And I've always loved the teaching part of being a faculty member. I've been in a number of institutions and also served as a academic administrator as well. So I've sort of a curvy academic path, not a standard path. And so that's why my that's why my hair color and my title don't quite match up. But I joined UCI four years ago, three years ago. It's my fourth year starting now. And I've really enjoyed it and one of the reasons I joined UCI as Paul Merage School of Business, I knew these folks, and I knew they were working on some some online and digitally enabled learning. And actually through our group at the school, which was an excellent group I got involved with Yellowdig. So that's, I guess why I'm here and now I'm using the Yellowdig engaged product in all my classes at the Merage school.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 4:35
And you said all of your classes are you teaching online hybrid face-to-face.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 4:40
I'm teaching in all modes I'm teaching face-to-face traditional classes. That's mostly what we do at UCI. However, the Merage school has a fledgling it's sort of a probationary undergraduate major that's fully online so I'm teaching a core course and that, and we'll talk about that more later. And soon we'll be teaching elective online course also this year for the first time. And then we have a hybrid MBA program at this point, sort of tied to our, you know, fully employed program, and I teach an elective course in there. And then our executive program, it's partially it's small piece of it is hybrid, and the rest is online. So actually, I teach at all levels, and I teach both in person, hybrid and online. So in all modes.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 5:31
Fantastic! So tell us a little bit about the learning process you had around discussions? What were you using in the past and how you made this transition?
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 5:42
Well, one of the best examples is a core course that most business schools teach is called operations management. And so operations I always joke with the students that operations is that, you know, third wheel, you've got finance, the people who figure out what to do with the resources, you've got marketing, the people who acquire customers, and then you have the people who get things done. That's us operations people, right. And, and in operations, we use, I use the Harvard case method and my face to face classes. So Socratic method, so we, you know, we read a Harvard case, and we discuss it and, and what I learned while back was, sometimes the case didn't really tie to everybody's experience. So I added the discussion feature where I said, you know, we're talking about, you know, six sigma, this week, give an example from your experience, or from something you find on the internet, about six sigma. And I was using Canvas discussions for this at the time. And what would happen is, it would just be a long list of examples. And I wasn't sure that anyone was reading anyone else's example. Actually, at the beginning, it generally started out pretty well. But then after the third or fourth of these things, you know, there'll be a number like eight 910 of them during the quarter, right? It would just wind up being a long list. And you could tell that no one was interacting, and they were just sort of checking the box completing the assignment, some were doing very well, but they weren't. No one was learning from anyone else. And I think that's that was the disappointing piece of that, certainly in the in class case discussion that was really robust and good, but this out of class part of it, it wasn't meeting the bar. So that's, that's what I asked my learning designer at Merage, if there was a better way. And that's when Yellowdig came on the scene, actually, about two or three years.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 7:32
Oh, fantastic! Yeah, that is, the typical discussion boards, and I like to kind of call them discussion boxes is you get in you check the box, and you're out. There's really no discussion whatsoever. Okay, so, sure, a little bit about how you use Yellowdig air in your predictive analytics course.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 7:50
Alright, so I have three different examples. Actually, I have an executive MBA course, which is an Operations Management course, I have a predictive course, which is a hybrid course, it's an MBA elective. And then I have an undergraduate course we can talk about later, if you want to, in the predictive course, essentially, I've now moved fully to what we call a full implementation of Yellowdig. So what I do is I develop a set of topics that they're going to talk about over the quarter, and I, I slowly release these topics, and then shut other ones down, as we move through the quarter to, if you're familiar with the product, when you post as a student to get credit for your work, you have to tie it to a topic. So one way to move the discussion along online is to change the topics that they're allowed to use. This is a hybrid course, it's an elective, we do meet in person four times on Saturdays, but the rest of the time the students are virtual. So the first topic I start out with is, you know, why are you here? Who are you kind of things and also, you know, sort of definitions around how you would describe predictive analytics. And then as we move through, we start to talk about things like, give me examples of predictive analytics that you know, of, in general, give me examples of predictive analytics in the office space, then we go into issues with predictive analytics. And so by turning these topics on and off, it sort of becomes this living discussion as we move through the course at least that's what you hope to achieve.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 9:26
Right? Right. I like the way you're doing that in bringing in experiences. I can't remember who it was I was talking the other day said, he felt like conversation starts with experience. And the way you're doing that and bringing in those, those, that's how the conversation gets started, because everybody has their own unique experiences. So I love the way you're doing that. That's great.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 9:49
One other point to make is, you know, I'm really a math teacher for the most part math and statistics teacher. So predictive analytics, it's a course assists that sort of a set Good stat course that I teach in R. So part of it is they have to learn this programming language, you know, then they have to perform the statistical analysis. And what I found was, that was great. But for MBAs, I could tell in the final presentation, they weren't tying what they learned very well to what was happening in the real world. So one thing that Yellowdig allows you to do with a crafty use of these topics is to pull in the experiences of the more experienced students to be able to share them with a less experienced students about what how does really works in practice. And I think that's, that's, you know, for a pretty technical course, in an MBA program, that's a really valuable add.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 10:42
Oh, definitely. So what real world examples? Have you seen that have impressed you?
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 10:48
Well, I think I shared one with you. Let's see the predictive class i What was the example? I have it right here. Yeah, it was a student posting about tick tock, I think. And they were sharing, you know, I think it was on the topic of ethics, right. And so the, the whole idea of how much data tick tock captures on you, when when you visit their, their site, you know, many of us, you know, even old people like me are guilty of slipping into sort of tick tock tick tock unconsciousness, right and watching about 50 videos, and somehow, an hour disappears. And, you know, evidently, tick tock captures the data about how long you dwell on each video. And so they're, they're capturing this massive amount of data on your profile. And, and they can learn very, very quickly how to serve up what you enjoy looking at. And so, and if I think about it, in my case, it's certainly you know, I get into the comedians, and there's, there's my feeds almost 100%, comedians at this point. So, you know, and so it's interesting, and, you know, clearly, some students have a, you know, if you, if you were able in the screen capture to go down below, you can see that this, this one post generated a fair bit of, you know, people talking about, you know, either their inexperience with knowing this, or their experience with knowing this, and the way they, you know, they had looked at it or experienced in the past. So this is just one example of a topic, you can see how it's linked to a couple of the topics that, that I set up. But, but you know, and we, of course, in the statistics class, talk a lot about accuracy and reliability of forecasts, and all those kinds of things. And so, you know, the discussion goes, you know, and it's really neat to see them tie this sort of, you know, practical example, to how the concepts that we talked about in class, I mean, I think that's the most satisfying part from the instructors point of view that you can really see them binding the ideas that are, you know, probably pretty technical for most people in class to, you know, something that's going on in the real world. So that's, that's the neat part. Yes.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 13:08
Exactly. And the topics are, I feel are very critical, because a lot of times, students will find something really interesting, like, this is really great. I want to bring this to my community, but then they kind of have to take a step back and figure out okay, which topic does this fit under? And in this case, there's actually three different topics where it might fit in, there might be different discussions within that, that context of the of the content. So I think now, it's fantastic the way that, again, you're bringing in those real world experiences. So
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 13:41
Can I have a word on the topics, Brian, before we go on,
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 13:45
Yeah, yeah, go ahead.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 13:45
I'll just say that, you know, I've been using this now for probably two years to two and a half years, and I teach three quarters a year. So just so people have an idea. So you know, I get a bunch of shots at it. It takes a while to tune your topics up to where you want them to be. So I think you have to be willing to learn and forgive yourself for not being perfect the first time because these topics are, I can't tell you the number of times I've gone in and edited the topics and changed them and I'm still learning, you know, you want the topic names to be kind of short, but you want them to be very descriptive, and like you just described, you want them to be open for, you know, so that people can fall under it in some way. It doesn't cut off the discussion, but yet, you want to sort of make a pathway for the discussion to follow. So it is it is it's subtle. You know, I'll say that.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 14:39
Exactly, exactly. No, that's and Yellowdig is definitely a paradigm shift. I've had several conversations with instructors that are just dug into the prompting of the discussion boards and with with yellow D kind of take a step back and kind of have let go of the reins a little bit. Let the students know Have their conversations, let them bring in content. And I've got instructors that are telling me that how blown away they are that the students are bringing in content that they didn't even realize was out there or hadn't thought about before. So it really just, it makes it so have vivid and vibrant. The conversations just take off on themselves.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 15:18
Yeah, let me let me say a bit about that, too. I have to admit that up until recently, I'm still one of those faculty who was prompting students, you know, especially at the undergraduate level, you know, again, I teach a class management science that's very technical, you know, essentially, every week, we're building a pretty complex spreadsheet, and then we're using it to solve a business problem. And so they have a lot of work around that. So in that class, I work hard to try to relate that to you know, hey, this isn't just a math class or an Excel class, it does relate to your future experience. And, you know, we got, again, we go through a series of ideas in the in the Yellowdig. Forum, but I have to admit to recently, I was still prompting the students each week to and, and that's, you know, just just to your point, that's really the wrong way to go about it. That's really old school, patriarchy faculty, you know, I know what's right, you have to get out of that mode. And and, because what happens when you prompt, of course, is the students just address your prompt, they check the box, and you might as well be using some other discussion tool, you don't get the full benefit of what Yellowdig has to offer. So you're you're right on when you say that, I mean, that's, that's exactly right.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 16:34
Yeah, I've got a an instructor who's a cognitive psychologist. And she called me up one day, and she said, Oh, my gosh, Brian, she said, I'm changing student behavior. So she recognized that in the community, let's say that there's a post that isn't getting a lot of comments on it, or a lot of action, she can reach out to the student and use that as the teaching moment. You know, just kind of help them prompt them and prompt them that helped them kind of walk through a scenario of how to use the questions, and how to get people to respond to him. But she was blown away. Because, again, if she had something that she felt was critical towards the course, and she wanted to make sure that it was, you know, in the fresh in their mind, she could go out and find maybe a link on on YouTube or the internet somewhere, and bring it back into the conversation, say, Hey, guys, I just found this, what do you think about this, and kind of get the conversation started, if the students are going down the wrong path, or, you know, the topics are not as vibrant as they should be, she can kind of bring it back in and kind of engage the students as opposed to just prompting them with questions.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 17:42
True. That's very true. And I think the difference there is, you know, for everybody who tries, who seeks to use this, you can post as an instructor, and it's great when you do I think the students like that, but you don't have to pin your post to the top of the feed. That's the, that's the thing you want to try to avoid. Because once you do that, when anybody logs in, they see your post first. And of course, they react to it. What you want to do is just be another person in the discussion. You don't you know, and help the discussion along in that more organic sense, rather than to be the, you know, let me tell you what we're going to talk about today kind of thing. No? talking head. Yeah, exactly. It comes down to the craft, the use of these topics, I think is really where the secret lies, you know, if you get this topic straight, and you can really mold the discussion as you go through.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 18:35
Exactly. And if you think about it, I can a face to face scenario where you divide your students up into groups, and you set the discussion and they're talking amongst themselves. And if you stay in the front of the class, that will continue. But the moment you step into that space, the conversation stops. And everyone kind of looks to you and is waiting for you to kind of guide them. And it's the same way with Yellowdig. You have to You're still a part of that community. But instead of being the sage on the stage, now you're the guide on the side. So you just kind of helping to prompt these keep saying prompt, and that's the wrong word. We're guiding the students. Exactly. That's, that's exactly, yeah,
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 19:15
Yeah, we had a lot of experience from COVID. You know, you use breakouts and zoom, and they go into their Zoom Room, and then the moment you drop in there, it's like weird, you know, like so. So a lot of us have that very experience you're describing in another context. And so you're right. I mean, you really what you want is you want the students to learn how to learn, right and learn how to critically think on their own. So challenge each other.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 19:41
Exactly. And bringing those questions in and allowing the students to help each other is a greater learning experience for all the students together. So I heard you had students within that had to do an interview. They had to interview a business professional tell A little bit about that.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 20:01
Yeah. So again, in this management science undergrad class, you know, I, I struggled, you know, we thought about how to evaluate, you know, there's a number of technical things they need to learn. And so they have a, I don't use any tests in the course, actually, I use a sort of a quizzing regimen. And it's pretty heavy duty. And so I thought, because this course is so technical, that I wanted to make some pretty significant portion of it qualitative. And so you know, to balance the two for different learner styles, you know, again, it's a core course. So while you do want the students to learn these skills, you have to recognize that not everybody is going to be an expert at that. So a learning designer suggested I do this interview of a professional in the course. And it was crazy. The first time I did it, because students were the only adult that many of these students knew was another professor. And I really wanted them to interview an analytics professional, you know, because Management Science is a synonym for Management Sciences, prescriptive analytics, I really would like it to be a prescriptive analytics professional, but those folks are kind of hard to find. pretty nerdy, pretty technical, pretty specialized. So um, so I did change the requirement, you can't interview anybody from who's a professor anymore, or grad student or any of those people. It has to be somebody who does analytics in their job. It could be somebody from the university, but it doesn't have to be somebody does analytics, one of the challenges that students have is finding someone to interview. And so you know, you get these desperate students, when you ask them to turn in the name of the person, they're going to interview and get these desperate students. I don't know any adults? Well, when it is a little, you have to be a little careful, because you want to say things like, Well, do you have parents, you know, but you know, maybe you don't want to ask that question exactly like that. You know, Do you have anybody in your family? Who is employed? You know, be one question to ask that. But I think one of the things that's the best is using Yellowdig, as a tool, you know, you'd make a topic that's called, you know, outlets to interview or something. And you let people post on their ideas of where to find people to interview and, and there are so many different places that you can find them. The best example, like a quick example I can give is I had a young lady couldn't find anybody. Turns out, she worked at Starbucks. And I'm thinking to myself, Man, the manager of the Starbucks must deal with 1000 reports. And, you know, it must be very sophisticated operation behind the scenes, because they never seem to be, you know, they seem to be able to meet demand very, very effectively. And so, sure enough, you know, she interviewed the manager of her store, and it was it was a solid interview, I mean, the way that the analytical duties were described and all that kind of stuff. So I'll just say that, you know, there's a whole bunch of other facets to using Yellowdig. I mean, in my other course, where we, we learned programming, our, you know, a lot of little hiccups and bumps and students can share each other's questions and get answers on a real time basis, you don't need the one, you don't need to be the one or your TAs don't need to be the ones to answer every email. So there's a lot of other learning that can go on there, as well. So I think that's a very valuable use of the tool as well is that, you know, they can share their experience with being successful in the course, you know, as well as their experience with being successful in their internships and other things in life.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 23:41
Definitely, definitely, I think you brought up a good point, as well as other students or other TAs answering the questions. So that opens up a lot more time for you. You're not spending as much time answering the same questions over and over again, it allows you to spend more time with the students that need a little more time.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 24:00
That's right. That's right. And, you know, I think different universities have different cultures, I would say, but, you know, in the large one like mine, students, they don't really come to office hours that much they, you know, there were, I guess we're, you know, we people would describe us as a pretty high quality University. The students feel like they're, they're pretty skilled students, they want to learn things on their own. And so, you know, that's another aspect of Yellowdig that's what makes it a nice resource, right? It's a 24/7 resource that students can go to, to pose questions to or learn on their own. And I know there are some other tools that they use out there that are similar, but that's a that's another strength of it. I mean, when they post Yellowdig they get credit for doing that. So they see the benefit of of that. So you're right. I mean, you know, I definitely have my TAs involved in my courses and checking the Yellowdig monitoring as well. And you know, we want to watch out You know, in case there's some some discussion that seems inappropriate or something that that actually has never happened. But, but we do I do have the TAs monitoring and pretty closely as we go through, right, right. It does open up time for me.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 25:15
And just so some of the listeners understand as far as dealing with inappropriate posts or comments on on the community, there is a flagging option. And the students and the instructor can do it. And immediately, that post comes down goes to the instructor, and then the instructor has the ability to take a look at it. And I know there's been some cases where it could be a very sensitive topic, but it's still something that you're going to run into in a business scenario. So maybe it is something that Dean's the instructor can bring it back into the community and say, Yes, this is a sensitive topic, but it needs to be talked about, and we're gonna deal with this in an adult way. Or they could just take it off. And then, you know, letting the student know, hey, this was not appropriate. They can assess negative points if they need, and that kind of that kind of squelches that right away. Definitely.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 26:10
Yeah, I mean, it's probably the nature of my courses are they're pretty mathematical are pretty technical. So we don't generally get in sort of these, these kinds of debates that you might get into in the liberal arts course, or some other course. But But yeah, I've never had any problem with that at all, never had any issue with any of those things. So good.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 26:30
So we've got a question here, it says, How do you keep discussions on topic, or pertinent to the course, or productive for the course when students can sometimes veer wildly away from the topic at hand?
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 26:45
So I think it's through the enablement and disablement of these topics, I do think you probably want to do a little bit of monitoring, as Brian was referring to earlier to make sure that when they tie a topic to a post that those two things relate somehow, right. So, you know, obviously, you can Jimmy assist, you can game the system by, by, you know, just putting a topic that has nothing to do with your post. But I think most students, you know, as Brian suggested, they'll look at the set of topics that are available and try to fit their posts, under those topics, I do, I am challenged a little bit, to have a topic that's only three or four or five words. So in some sense, specific enough to drive the discussion in a certain direction. But not too specific, so that it's completely limiting, or, you know, the first five posters, answer all the questions involved. So there's sort of a trade off there. And that's what I meant about engineering your topics, that's probably the most difficult part of using Yellowdig, from a faculties perspective. And, and again, I don't think you're gonna get it right the first time, you're just going to learn how to do it over time, and get better and better at it. But one thing I might suggest I'm trying it myself this quarter, is to draw a map of the semester or quarter that you're teaching in, and have the things that you'd like the students to discuss on this time oriented map, and then think of topics that would sort of drive the discussion in that direction. Another thing I'll just point out is, just because your courses, you know, 14 weeks a semester, or 10 weeks a quarter, doesn't mean you have to have 10 topics to talk about, they do get evaluated weekly time buckets in the tool, but you don't have to have a topic just last one week, you could be discussing a topic for two weeks, or you going to have two topics overlapping, you know, or something like that. So you don't have to have as as clean of cut offs, as you might in terms of delivering content. This can be much more organic than that. So you don't need to think of 14 different topics. If you have a 14 week class, I don't think so. That's just some thoughts on that. I again, I think those those topics are critical here.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 29:00
Yeah, definitely. And interesting, you know, you said that you may not get it right the first time, it takes the students a little bit to kind of get into the dynamic of Yellowdig as well. They're used to going in and answering questions and looking at it as an assignment. Whereas this is a semester long discussion. And you mentioned what the topics, let's say, there's something that happened in I don't know, let's just use Bitcoin in the beginning of the semester, and then all the sudden some, you know, something else came up. Now you can draw that topic back into it. So it allows the conversations to ebb and flow and be vibrant instead of just pigeonholing them into into that one topic for that one week, and allows that conversation to get creative.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 29:48
I totally agree. I personally am very interested in in sports forecasting. And while I try not to talk about sports too much in class because I think it's not appropriate. Not all students are equally diverse. This topic, I can certainly have that be a topic and Yellowdig that they can talk about. So the subset of students that are interested in that can certainly post on that topic. And I do use that in my, in my predictive class, for example.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 30:14
Right, right, exactly. And then you can pick different topics that might apply to different students, as well, as, you know, like you said, if sports isn't their gig, then maybe you can find something else. I was thinking,
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 30:27
Well, the environment is a huge thing, too. And so you know, you can, you know, I appreciate that the questioners question though, because, you know, if you're talking about sort of climate change, for example, and how, how do climate change models work? It's a pretty sophisticated topic, how do you drive the DIS student discussion to a deep level on that topic, and I think that's where, you know, if maybe you have a week, or a period where you talk about climate change broadly, and climate prediction of climate change, and then you could add a second week, where you change your topic slightly and make it more detailed, where they can talk about specific aspects of that, like, you know, a lot of the debate around climate change is, you know, you know, how accurate are the forecasts, you know, how certain are we of these things? And so, you know, so you know, that that kind of thing, I think, you know, again, if you think about it, intentionally at the start of class, then it could probably help. But there'll probably be a, you know, a couple of rounds before you're perfect. And so you just have to go with it. The other point I'll make is, I don't use Yellowdig. For a huge portion of the course evaluation, it's not insignificant, but it's not a huge portion. So I use it for about 15% of the course evaluation, somewhere in there. So you know, again, I'm measuring them mostly on their technical skills, but I am trying to tie what they're learning to the real world using this tool.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 30:28
Right, right. Yeah, it's interesting, we did a, on one of our demo sites, everyone in the company was assigned a role. So I believe the topic was, there was a whole foods coming to the new neighborhood, and how that was going to impact the neighborhood. So we had someone that was a longtime neighbor, we had the developer, we had another store owner, so each person got to take on a different role, and experience that. And personally, it forced me to kind of take a step back and take the other side of the coin. So it really allows the students to be able to have those conversations in it, it sparks some different thoughts in your head. So that's just another way of getting the students to engage.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 32:46
Exactly, exactly. You know, I think that's exactly right. You know, there is there is a challenge here in the sense of, you know, do I read every post that's in Yellowdig, and I don't, you know, and I'll be honest about that, there's, there's probably no way, you know, if you have a 200 250 student class, and you're using this tool, you're not going to be able to even your TAs aren't going to be able to read everything, you know, you hope to scan some things and you hope that they scan some things, there is a challenge, of course, with, you know, with, with monitoring all that content, but, you know, but again, what are you really trying to accomplish here, what you're really trying to accomplish here is to engage students in the topic, you know, and, and engage them broadly. And so in some sense, I don't stress out about it too much, as long as they're engaged. You know, I think it's the students that don't engage in Yellowdig that I get a little frustrated with, I'm thinking to myself, boy, this is a pretty easy assignment compared to everything else, at least for us, you know, jump in, come on, you know,
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 33:53
Right, right. Yeah, we've got typically we heard, instructors will jump into Yellowdig, as they're drinking their coffee in the morning and just kind of read through it and see what's going on in the community. But now, it's it is interesting to see that. So another another question just came up, and this is in regards to topics and turning them off and turning them on. Do you turn them off completely? Or do you leave them open for conversation without the points or how to utilize those?
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 34:27
No, I didn't think about leaving them open without the points. You know, that that actually might be a good idea. I tend to disable them. But you know, leaving them up without the point seems reasonable, because if they still want to discuss it, and they're willing to discuss it without any points, why would you want to shut that down? So I kind of would lean towards the second one, although I've used the Disable one more than I have without the points. So I think I would I think that makes sense. Again, you want them to have discussion. That's really what you want to achieve here. You don't want to have it be, you know, 100% about the points. But of course, you know, many students these days are heavily driven by what you put points on. So. So certainly, that's probably where you see the bulk of the action.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 35:17
Right, right, exactly. And as I mentioned before, it allows the conversations to ebb and flow throughout the semester, so leaving them open is good. And you can actually kind of move those topics up and down as to how you want them to be prioritized. So when the students go in, and they're looking at the topics, okay, these are the ones that you as the instructor really want them to take a look at. So I, you know, the topics really helped bring the conversation and keep it course relevant. And again, like we mentioned before, having several different ones, it's, you know, maybe they're not exactly sure, it might be, hey, I've got a question on this. And it's related to XYZ. So it gives you an opportunity to really,
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 35:57
I tend to use those different colors for the topics for different things. So I have a set of Q&A topics, usually, you know, one is sort of, you know, about technical things. One might be about the syllabus or, you know, general things, and, you know, and so that way, you know, they can tag those topics, and you can filter on those things as well. And I have those TAs really monitor, you know, through the filter feature, the topic Q&A. And you know, I try to be try to respond to all questions within 24 hours during the lifetime of the class. So we try to really monitor that.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 36:35
Right, right. Well, and when you get into the data analytics of it, it allows the instructor to have the ability to go in and see, okay, who's communicating with each other? Who maybe there's an outlier? Or maybe there is a reason why they're not responding. So it allows the instructor to identify those students, and reach out to him and say, hey, you know, I noticed you're not really engaging, is there something I can help you with, they might have a language barrier, or maybe they're a first year students, maybe they're a first generation student. I mean, there's all these different humanistic values that that come into play. But the data analytics allows the instructor to really kind of take a view into the students and where they are. And as well as look at the topics and say, Okay, it looks like their data, they have a grasp on these first three. And then as you go down, you can say, you know, this one, what can I do? What can I bring into the conversation, and maybe go out and find something that's pertinent to the, you know, real world activities right then, or, you know, generationally, maybe it's something that they're just not interested in. So let's see if we can find something else, reaching out to some of the students that are doing exceptionally well on that topic, and reaching out to them and saying, Hey, can you bring in something to help me kind of get this conversation going? So fantastic, fantastic.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 37:58
I mean, I think one of the nicest things about this as, and this happened before, in my executive MBA class, but now I can do it with all my classes, especially in these classes, where you don't get to know the students very well, you know, certain students will stand out on this tool, and you'll learn a lot about them. And, and that's really great. And, you know, sort of really getting an insight about what they do, I specifically get a lot of valuable war stories, so to speak, from my executive MBAs, they have great stuff. Actually, I'm working on a project now with executive MBA from last year about, you know, helping him to manage his trauma center here at UCI better, so we're just getting started on this, but we're going to perform some process analysis on that. And actually, I shared with you another screen capture from that. And, and, you know, in that class, that executive MBA class, probably out of 5060 students, there were 20 doctors in that class. And so, you know, and some of them were, you know, surgeons, so it was really interesting to see the discussion between them on Yellowdig about these, these topics, and, you know, trying to make, you know, the, the surgical process more effective, you know, I hate to say efficient, because I don't want to make a sound like machines, but you know, but, you know, again, seeing these professionals share their experience on Yellowdig is fantastic. I mean, that, that, that part of it and, and, you know, many of the issues discussed at that level are, you know, their discussions, first of all, you know, I think you might imagine are much more sophisticated, and because they have a lot more work experience, and they also share a lot better about, you know, this happened at my company, and here's how we dealt with it that someone else will chime in. This is how, you know, this is how we dealt with it and you know, and they're willing to share a lot of And as they they're pretty, pretty highly bonded group because they meet in person quite a bit too. And so they're also willing to share the dirty laundry a little bit, you know, which is, which is great. You know, I mean, obviously you don't want that to get out in public, but it's great that they can learn from challenges that they faced in their jobs, you know, and so.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 40:22
And I think the students get a lot, it's, I think you have your peers that have been out in the world. And it really gives them a lot of credibility, as opposed to, you know, I can talk all day long. But if I can bring someone in to really back that up, it gives that course even more value. And for me, it's learning what not to do. You know, if you can learn from examples of, yeah, avoid this at all cost, that's more valuable to me.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 40:50
I mean, this is a great example, the one you put up, this is an undergraduate class that I teach. And you can see that the title, there is week, five prompts. So I admit I was guilty of doing prompts in the past, this is old screen capture. But you can see the student posted about having an internship at a marketing team of a company that worked on ethics and compliance software, which is just such a great topic because it, you know, it broadens. We don't really talk about ethics directly in the course. But you know, this post here generated 16 comments. So, you know, students are really thinking about this issue. Today's students are really thinking about issues like this. And for this student to sort of relate the course to working in this internship and to share those with the others is just fantastic.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 41:43
Well, and I also feel like in a scenario like that, where I'm a student, and I'm looking for an internship, now I can reach out to that student and say, Hey, how did you go about doing this? Or, you know, have those conversations on the side direct message them? Maybe bring it up in another conversation of how did you get this? What were some of the things you would do or what were the things that you would avoid in the future. And it really kind of gives the students that sense of belonging. I know a lot of instructors really consents that the students feel like, especially during COVID, when everyone was online, everyone was started feeling like they weren't on their own island. So bringing those real world experiences and allowing those conversations to happen, even if they're not directly connected to the course. But allowing the students to have those communications with each other, really opens it up and again, gives them that sense of belonging.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 42:38
I totally agree. If you can't, you know, if you if you're having challenges in your personal life that don't allow you to focus on the course, you're not going to get anything out of the course anyway. So you're exactly right. I mean, you know, while we're not caretakers, as instructors, if we don't have the students feel comfortable about being able to express themselves, then, you know, we haven't accomplished sort of a basic, we haven't solved the basic need that learning is not going to take place, at least not at a very high level, you know, it's going to be very, right. So Exactly, exactly, I think you're right.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 43:15
You have to create a safe space for his students. And a lot of instructors will say if in a hybrid situation, you know, they'll have a conversation in the classroom. And there'll be students that won't say anything just sitting in the back of the room. But end of class, they'll come up and then all of a sudden, they're just excited about it and talking about it, because they're not comfortable in that environment. So what Yellowdig does is it allows them to be in that safe space. And it allows them to have the time to really craft their posts and comments, and think about it, which is a deeper learning experience in itself. But and let me just get you have you used the anonymous posting? I have not. Okay, I gotta tell you, that's one of one of my favorite features of Yellowdig is an anonymous person, a lot of instructors like, Well wait, I don't want my students posting anonymously. But the instructor knows who they are. And in my opinion, what this does is it allows the students to still be a part of the community, and post and comment. But again, it gives them that safe space, where they can still be a part of the community and yet hide their identity. And then once they get more comfortable, they can bring their you know, their true selves out, but it gives them that safe space and that sense of belonging.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 44:35
Brian do they get the students get credit when they post anonymously still saying, okay, maybe I'll start using that feature. Actually, that sounds good. Again, I bet you a lot of these features would work great in a in a sort of a liberal arts class because you are talking about topics that sometimes are hard to talk about, you know, or or are sensitive, some people and so allowing for those things, generally in my classes, these things Don't come up too much. I mean, sometimes we touch on them when we talk about, like EDI and business and things in operations management class. But they don't come up too heavily generally. But it doesn't mean I shouldn't, you know, try the feature, I'm always willing to try something new just to see what happens. So that sounds like a great idea.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 45:20
Yeah, yeah, definitely. It allows the students to ask questions that maybe they don't want to look silly, asking. It's just another, it's just another great tool that we have, besides, you know, being able to do audio and video polling, you've got the ability to add images that you can draw on. I mean, there's so many different things that you can do with in Yellowdig. And, and you can use a lot of them together as well. So you can have the students do an introductory video and introduce themselves. It's, it's a fantastic tool.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 45:54
Yeah, I've used that. I've used that trick before. And I do see a lot of students embedding videos and links from the internet, in their posts. So that's pretty common.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 46:04
Fantastic. So we're, we're about three quarters of the way through, I just want to make sure that we've got all the questions answered. Does anyone have anything that I don't see anything in the q&a? Or on the sidelines here? So I think we're, we're good so far, perfect. So what do you think? What creates a compelling learning experience?
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 46:32
Well, I think if the topic is relevant to the student is fundamentally the important factor in you know, having sat on the other side as an administrator and been an advisor, Assistant Dean in the business school, and talking to a lot of students about their, you know, their programs of study and what they have to take to graduate, you see a lot of students not thinking very hard about what they're taking, and why they're taking it, it's kind of a sad byproduct. And, and I think, my personal opinion, our universities offer just a huge variety of courses, and, you know, so many boxes to check, but within each box, you know, the selection is just incredible. And it's really difficult for students to navigate that. So, you know, so inevitably, you're gonna get whether you're teaching a core course that's required, and everybody has to take it, or you're teaching an elective course that, you know, sounds good, somehow, it's different at the graduate level, of course, at the undergraduate level, they generally know what they're doing more at the graduate level, but at the undergraduate level, you get students in your elective course, that may not know exactly what the course was about, they're just taking it because they feel like they needed to cover some requirements, it's very important that you make your course relatable to the student. So I think with, you know, use of these outside discussions, right, you know, there's been a lot of discussion, for example of how, how liberal arts is valuable. And I went to a liberal arts college myself, so I'm sensitive to this, you know, how liberal arts trains you for the real world? Right? So, so Yellowdig, would be the perfect tool, in my opinion, to utilize this in a liberal arts course, you know, we're learning, you know, about this English literature, you know, this period of English literature, but what are we learning in here that might be relevant to the real world, right. And so you can take students through a series of discussions, that relates the skills, they're picking up in the course, you know, at various levels, to how that might be, you know, how someone might want that skill and practice. And so that's just one example that comes to mind really quickly. And it's sort of what I'm trying to do, right, I'm trying to take these mathematical topics and prove to the students that, yeah, people actually use this stuff, you know, and, and I think, I think that's, that's one place where you can make the course relevant for any student, because, you know, the student ultimately, you know, has some vision of who they're going to be when they grow up, if you can tie your course to that in some way, that's going to bring it home. It's amazing, of course, much more compelling to the student than and, you know, they'll be willing to suffer through the course, in a much more positive way, right, so to speak. I mean, I'd say that because my courses are generally viewed as pretty difficult, but, you know, if they, if they get why they're going through the pain, then then they, then they are much more than the teaching evaluations will generally be much higher in my experience. So that's it, you know, like, like, if you can use these discussions, it's probably a better tool to use these discussions to relate it to the bigger picture than it is to try to focus on the specific topics, the specific deep thinking stuff, you deliver that content in a different way. This is all right, let's relate this to the bigger picture. It really valuable for that?
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 50:02
Exactly. And as opposed to looking at it as an assignment, with a specific goal or a specific answer in mind, asking questions in in a in a different way, and having a different mindset kind of changes the way that students look at it as well. And bringing that real world experience in, like you said, it makes that connection between what I'm learning in the classroom, and how it relates to the real world and, and how I might use this in my profession. And a lot of times it gets them thinking in a different manner. It's like, I've never thought about that before. So it's absolutely, absolutely valuable. Yeah, glad you brought that up. That was,
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 50:39
yeah, I think that's, that's the big thing is, is if if, you know, I'll have students that even an executive MBA, it's interesting, because he became my friend later, you know, we're talking about operations management for the whole quarter, and like, three quarters of the way through this guy goes to snapping, his name was Scott, this guy goes, this is not relevant for anything I do. And my whole purpose of teaching this class is at the beginning, you know, to try to explain that this operations topic is not just factories, right, it's that most of us are engaged in adding value to a product or service in some way. And, you know, he, you know, he happened to be a vice president for, you know, financial services company, you know, money manager, and, you know, just this is not value, this is not relevant, you know, and I was just like, Man, I failed, you know, I completely failed with this guy. And, and I think that's, that's what that's the niche, you're trying to say, you know, you're trying to say, look, you know, even though you know, every customer special, and you deal with every every customer's customer in your business, there are still things that are repeated for every customer, things that you want to get right things that you want to make sure you deliver with quality, you know, there's still ways to manage this process in a structured and sophisticated way. And so, you know, maybe I don't know, in his case, if I wasn't using the holodeck, then but maybe it has, I just always remember that example. Because, you know, most students are afraid to tell you something like that. But But I think that that's, that's the that's the thing that Yellowdig can help. That's a niche, and they can help you, Phil, right? That, that you're tying what you're learning, and you don't have to do all the work. That's the secret of it. Other students will help you, you know, and that that I think is, that's what you want. Plus, you know, just another point, very often, especially with undergrads, I don't have any children, but you feel like you're the parent in the course. Right? Like you're the adult telling them this is right, this is wrong. Do what I say Don't you know, you know, that just isn't very motivating for anybody, I don't think and so if you have other students sort of sharing their experience, and you can get a vibrant discussion around that. That's, that's just another way to bring relevance to what's going on. So it helps on a whole bunch of levels.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 52:59
Yeah, I think bringing the experiences from the students and getting their insight into different things. I mean, everybody looks at things differently. Like I mentioned before, when we were talking about the, you know, the whole foods coming to town, it really forced me to kind of take a step back and go, okay, yeah, whole foods would be great. But then you take a step back and say, like, what are the other factors that are affecting other people in the community? How is this going to affect traffic and things like that you didn't think about before? So having those conversations? It really, it makes it so much more vibrant, as opposed to, like I said, before, just looking at it as an as an assignment with Okay, here's the question, what's the answer? There's no room for conversation there. Once that question is answered. End of discussion.
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 53:44
And that's especially true in your introductory level technical courses, like the ones I teach, I mean, you have this sort of set of content, it's, it's pretty heavily established, I'm thinking of like, a bio course or physics course. You know, it's, it'd be nice, it is nice, in my opinion, to put a small portion of the course on this, you know, thinking more broadly, I think it just helps the students to sort of see how it all fits together much better.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 54:12
Exactly, exactly. Well, Ken, this has been a great conversation. I really enjoyed this. I hope everyone else did, too. Any closing thoughts?
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 54:22
Um, you know, I, just would say that, you know, you know, teaching is a subject that, you know, it helps if you're passionate about it, and, and if you're passionate about it, you're willing to accept ideas from you know, all different types, you know, you know, what I like, what I enjoy is to have the students challenge me, you know, and, and I think, you know, the more opportunity you can give students to communicate, you know, especially if you're teaching hybrid or online, the better and so, you know, I found Yellowdig very valuable for allowing students to voice their own opinions, and like you said earlier in sort of a safe place, and, you know, to be rewarded for that, and to see the benefit of that, and I think they do, indeed, you know, because of the way the tool works, they do indeed read each other's posts and respond, which is, you know, great. That means there's listening and thinking going on as well. So, you know, I found it very valuable and valuable component of my class. So thanks for the opportunity.
Brian Kracke, Partnerships Specialist, Yellowdig 55:28
Yeah, thank you. So, that being said, I think we can close but just wanted to make you all aware of some of the other upcoming conversations that we're going to be having. We've got a series called Education 3.0. And this kind of gives you an idea of who's going to be here in the next coming weeks. And you can register at the, on the next slide. There we go. There's a QR code that you can register for those as well. Thank you for joining us today, Ken! Again, it was a pleasure speaking with you and look forward to another conversation with you. Have a great day, everyone and thank you for joining!
Ken Murphy, Assistant Professor, University of California - Irvine 56:09