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Piloting a Paradigm Shift [Learner Engagement Summit]

Brianna Bannach 0:04
Well, I'm really excited for this session. So I don't want to delay any longer. So I'm gonna kick it over to Heidi so that we can get started on piloting a paradigm shift. Thank you, Heidi.

Ling 0:14
All right, thank

Heidi 0:16
you so much, Briana, and thank you everybody for joining us and allowing us to share our experience that we've had over the past year and a half as we did a two phase pilot that you'll you'll get more details about as we move forward. I'm pleased to be here with my teammates. I have Elaine Thompson, who is an instructional designer, senior instructional designer, as well as Aaron Harkness, who is instructional technologists. And together we were the team that led the piloting of Yellowdig. We are from Regis University. And Aaron, you could go ahead and advance. Regis University is a Jesuit Catholic institution, and Denver, Colorado. And part of our mission is to is to offer a transformative education. And I don't know what happened right there, but we're gonna move forward. And in really, Yellowdig is one of those tools. I've been in the EdTech world for quite a way, while 2030 years. Could you go back one, please, Aaron, and really Yellowdig. And what it's allowed us to do in the terms of a paradigm shift around dialogue and course, discourse has been transformative. And not many tools allow us to actually live this out. And I really think Yellowdig has, so it has allowed us to live our mission in important ways. Okay, Aaron. So we have three outcomes that we're hoping that you'll be able to feel like you've met or have had the information to me. One is identifying strategies to include in a pilot program, we did a multi phased, as I said, so we have a wide variety of strategies we're going to share, we also are keen to learn from you and for you to share the strategies that you might have. We want and hope that you can articulate solutions to institutional challenges. As with any pilot, there are challenges. We worked to overcome those and we want to share that with you. And maybe here's some insights that you can share with the group as well. And then we just started recording, what are some of the key questions that we had to address and to answer as we were planning our comprehensive pilot, and we just thought we would share those with you and give you a chance to consider some of those questions as you're entering into your experience here. So this really just started about three and a half years ago here at Regis, where I was in an interview for my position then, which was Director of Instructional Design and Technology. I now have the Associate Provost added to that. And one of the deans interviewing me said, Well, what are we going to do about discussion forums in online classes, they're just they're killing enthusiasm. They're killing engagement. And so thought thinking of this idea of death by discussion, and I've heard I was in a session that Brian talked about that. And then I was in just in another session. But were one of our colleagues talked about this past discussion model of post once replied twice. And this sort of has that ever ending repeat errand as we go through in the slides. And if you've seen this image, it reminds me of these mirrors, or you just go down in this tunnel. And, and I think that as a past instructor of online courses, I used to get bored of this same old methodology. And I'm sure our students do. And so with that D, we started thinking about what are some different strategies that we could do and what do we want to do if we don't want to do this anymore? What are we want to do? So in this next slide, we talked about, okay, here's some of what that paradigm shift might look like. If we don't want to do those traditional methodologies that really tend to be more writing assignments and actually discussion, what are we looking for? And you know, we wanted okay, we didn't want to be constrained by weeks. We wanted the students to be leading these discussions. We wanted the students to share content and and to use these discussions of way if that happening. We wanted them to collaborate with each other to solve problems and we wanted to leverage The multimedia. So this is the start of that paradigm shift we wanted to see. And so we tried different innovative strategies, we had faculty doing a lot of different strategies trying to within the environment of the LMS discussion forum, to do this paradigm shift. And and what we were finding. And I'd be curious if you all are finding this too, but what we're finding is doing a major paradigm shift of our practice as instructors as well, students is difficult when you're in the same environment when you've been doing something else. And so I actually heard about Yellowdig. And we can go forward, Aaron, and you know, in heard that actually heard from my daughter, who was an online student at Arizona State University, that she was using this new program, and I thought, ah, let's learn more about it. And then all of a sudden, actually got a call from Yellowdig. And then I got to see it. So you know, this idea that if we want to do a paradigm shift, we're going to have to shift our environment. And that's where we came up with this proposal to do a pilot within Yellowdig. We wanted to transform discussions, we wanted to increase the amount and quality of engagement students were having with content and one another. And we did recognize that a paradigm shift was going to be really challenging. And we wanted, we read about all the white papers that Yellowdig provided and research. But we were wondering, is this going to work at Regis, you know, is it going to work with our faculty with our students. And that's where we started stepping into this idea of a pilot. We also know and many of you may have experienced this, that our faculty are tired of change. We have a lot of change from the pandemic. But we've also had a lot of internal change. And so we needed to know is the return on this investment, and converting or updating or transforming our courses into using Yellowdig? Is that going to be worth the effort? Can we make that ask of our faculty, and so we knew we had a pilot to figure out if we could make that ask of them. We also needed to know how much effort was going to be needed. If we were going to have to support faculty across the whole institution, we needed an idea up front of what that was going to take. And so this pilot, we really needed to do that. We wanted to make a database decision on an implementation, were we going to adopt it? We might have a gut feeling about that. We've read other institutions, reports, but we needed to know for our context, was the data going to show that this is something we should try to implement? We also wanted to know if we're going to go to an adaption model, how are we going to support this what resources and strategies would work and which ones wouldn't work, and where to share those lessons learned in such during this session. And we needed to identify use cases. So we found some that it didn't work for us and and we found many use cases and tie ins meaning types of courses, where we found it does work well for here at Regis. So this is sort of the why behind. We went ahead and started our pilots with Yellowdig Ling is gonna lead us next. I do want to see if you have any questions. I see. Janine has just posted that, please feel free to ask them during the session. I'm also really pleased to see Julius joined us. Julia is one of our faculty, our users. So you actually have one of our faculty in the chat if you want to ask a question of a faculty member. She's here and she can she can answer from that perspective. So thank you, Julie, for joining us as well. All right, Ling I'm going to hand it over to you.

Ling 9:10
Thank you. Our pilot journey started in spring 2021. We started at a small scale no cautiously dip our toe in the water. Three faculty who taught communication and philosophy they briefly volunteer to participate in the pilot and the dean of their college recognize the additional duty they had to take on and approved and $500 stipend for each. It was a small but nice gesture for recognition. For the face one pilot, we didn't jump through the hoops of integrating Yellowdig into our learning management system. So students have to click on a link to go to the community and the grades will not pass through to the gradebook automatically. At the beginning of the pilot we recruit I have these three faculty to complete the Yellowdig, instructor certificate course. One instructional designer, me and one instructional technologist, Aaron, provide a hands on support for the faculty. Five of us worked very closely together. So our group naturally evolved into a professional learning community. We were meeting regularly. During these meetings, we shared individual learnings, what worked, what didn't work, brought up questions and challenges we each faced. Most important ball, I think it's because we created this a support mechanism for each other. Nobody was tackling any challenges alone, we will all in this together. errand I provided a technical and pedagogical support for faculty, I just want to highlight these three important resources we created. The first one was a how to document for faculty. This document includes a checklist for faculty listing, clearly things to do prior to the course start date. Now Yellowdig has an extensive knowledge base and fabulous resources for instructors. However, we don't want faculty to feel overwhelmed by so many resources. That's why we selected some must have read resources and provided direct links. The other resource we created was the content module, a Yellowdig tutorial for our students. As you can see here on the slide, it included information such as what is Yellowdig, how to participate in Yellowdig. How is it graded, we also included a pilot study information there. Okay, so this module can be inserted to any course that decides to use Yellowdig. It includes all the basic important information. However, it also allows instructors flexibility to have freedom to edit the pages themselves. Okay. There was also a best practice document is started out as a living document, we just kept adding tips and best practices to this document after each professional learning community meeting. close collaboration to Yellowdig was also crucial to ensure the success of our pilot, one of our people Yellowdig join our meetings periodically to answer our questions and provide guidance. In each course we included faculty and student surveys, because it's a data driven process, right. Most of the survey results were positive about Yellowdig. However, the major roadblock was the fact that students and faculty found the tool clunky to use because it was not integrated into our system, you actually create a more work for faculty, do they have to manually enter the grades to the gradebook? So to test the true value of Yellowdig, we decided to enter phase two of the pilot. Okay, so we can go to the next slide. Yeah, that's phase two.

Unknown Speaker 13:14
We have a question.

Heidi 13:15
Yeah. So regarding the Phase One, two is we didn't look at that data. And the data was positive enough that we said, Okay, we need to investigate this a bit more. If we had had an overall negative feeling to it, we probably would have stopped right there was one of the ways Yellowdig works with us and with you is that that very small pilot was that no charge, I hope I didn't just get anybody in trouble there. They're very small pilot was had no charge. And so we knew that if we were going to a larger pilot, there would have to be cost. And so that data was really important for me to take to Dean's to be able to get their buy in for that financial support. So that we could go into and that's the first thing LNG has here on this slide. So laying and I'll let you take back over.

Ling 14:10
Okay, thank you. So that's where we started with the phase two, and there's value there. We were curious, okay, does it work in the module scale? This time the tool was fully integrated with our Learning Management System, or what department Instructional Design and Technology together with two other colleges purchased on Yellowdig licenses jointly. So this shared cost model assure that our department was not the only one who invested in this project. The other two colleges will also stakeholders, faculties from these colleges they have for support from their Dean's to try out Yellowdig recruitment strategies included. Let's see. Let's see. We have informed additional sessions to demonstrate Yellowdig he added a Yellowdig announcement to the newsletter, Provost and out. We also created a Yellowdig page on our department website. In a pilot participants also created videos sharing their experiences. And this time, we were more intentional about recruiting faculty from a variety of different disciplines. Class sizes, also modalities, whether it was a fully online course or hybrid course with a face to face component. Many of the pilot components from phase one continued on to phase two, we continue to have these regular professional learning community meetings. Faculty who use the tool before when our leaders in these meetings, they provide a peer coaching to other faculty who are new to the tool. As an instructional designer, I offered one on one consultations with faculty, there are two areas they most likely need help. One is what topics to create an Yellowdig. Two is what to do with the existing discussion activities. Do they just delete them? Or convert them to individual assignments? How can we safely remove these discussion questions from the course without jeopardizing the alignment of the course right between the assessment our learning objectives. Next, I'm going to hand it over to Erin to talk about how she helps faculty from instructional technologists perspective.

Unknown Speaker 16:35
Thanks so much. Thanks. So, as an instructional technologist, I assisted faculty was setting up Yellowdig in their quest show, which included importing the Yellowdig module. So we created adding the Yellowdig link to the navbar as you see in the little picture to your right, as well as adding the gradebook item and hooking up Yellowdig to the gradebook so that the grade passback occurs and make it really easy for faculty for grading with Yellowdig. And so within that content module Yellowdig content module we'd add an external Orton learning tool as well and hook that up to the gradebook. So it passes back, as well as answering any Yellowdig related questions from faculty and passing it along to Yellowdig. As well, and using their wonderful support model that Yellowdig has for their technical support and their OS. Awesome, like ticketing system, we would always hear back within like 24 hours. They're amazing to work with.

Heidi 17:38
And this is important having both technical and the pedagogical support. Because this pilot was done with no involvement from our IT department. liing already alluded to that we didn't do the integration. But that also means that we as an ID and T had to handle all of the technical support both for students and for the faculty. So having Aaron as our key point of contact for the technical questions, and that she could go to Yellowdig and bring solutions back to the community was really critical, I think, in our success.

Ling 18:16
Okay, strategies. So based on our experiences, these are the strategies we recommend, if you'd like to conduct a pilot study in the future. First and foremost is to establish a project timeline, we listed some my key milestones here on the slide, I'm not going to read all of them. I do want to point out that recruitment events are probably the most time consuming, because need to create the materials such as flyer newsletter and websites in advance. It's also good idea to have a sandbox for faculty to test the platform, to save environment to try new things and make mistakes. I just think it's critical to provide as much support for faculty as your resources allow, especially designers and instructional technologists can do most of the heavy lifting, and make the logistics less cumbersome for faculty. I can't emphasize enough the importance of regular professional learning community meetings, pilot participants can work collaboratively to accomplish a common goal and making this a more enjoyable process experience for everyone to these initial pilot participants amazing. They were always eager to help whatever they can come up with creative ideas. We help others definitely empower them to share their experiences and to recruit their colleagues. And

Heidi 19:48
I say that after in the second pilot, we didn't offer any stipends. And so we what we had is a group of people that were passionate. They were our risk takers there were a pedelec Magical innovators. And they were so pleased with what was happening in their classrooms that they kept coming back and finding value in this PLC, which was just really exciting. I mean, and so because we didn't have the funds for the stipend in this larger pilot, the fact that they were still willing to engage with their colleagues made a big difference. And also they were a big part of recruitment. So, you may have noticed in one of those pictures that you saw Janine Galligan in there who is now working for Yellowdig. She was actually one of our champions in early adopters, and did a lot of recruitment for us. And that was just by talking about what worked and what you know, and what has gone well, so those early adopters, innovators, risk takers are really critical.

Ling 20:54
And people Yellowdig are just wonderful. I think they deserve a big medal for the best customer service award, right? Let them help you and guide you close collaboration with them, I will save you a lot of time. As mostly at the pilot went, we still encounter some challenges and the roadblocks along the way. The first major challenge is faculty's resistance to paradigm shift. We all know many of them are not happy with the current status of the discussion tool. This model of posting by Wednesday, responding to other learners by Sunday is just not effective in generating authentic and passionate discussions online. Yet the shift to Yellowdig is making them feel uncomfortable, and they still crave for this familiar week by week structure. Some of them find it difficult to let go the existing discussion questions in the course, we keep getting questions such as how Yellowdig degrades the quality of students work, they just don't trust students are capable of doing quality work with the intrinsic motivation alone. There are no simple solutions to this challenge. Our suggestion is to start with innovative faculty who are more open to try new things and take risks, empower them to become pioneers and to share experiences with other faculty. This PLC model provides an opportunity for peer coaching and learning. When faculty here the faculty talk about how great Yellowdig is and how engage their students are. They pay attention to gossip. Recruitment is from the word of mouth. So Eric's going to talk about the second challenge.

Unknown Speaker 22:37
So the second challenge is LMS integration. Since in the first part of our palate and spring of 2021, we didn't have the integrated. So in all of the faculty that were using it for the initial pilot and 20. Fun one, we're interested in that grade passback. So we went with the integrate LMS integration route, which led us to collaborating with our IGS department to assist with the integration and working with them to look at any security accessibility issues. And as well as working to figure out how to integrate it into the course, for example, figure out how to add it to the navbar as well as linking it to the gradebook through the external learning tools.

Heidi 23:19
And I do want to clarify there that we were going through quite a bit of transition in our it s Department while we were trying to do this, we're used reuse Brightspace by D to well, and so most of the issues were on our end just because of the transitions we were going through, not that it was a difficult, difficult integration necessarily. On Yellowdig. It was more about internal and many of you know that you work with your IDs departments, you might be a member of IPs. And sometimes integrations go lickety split fast and smooth. And sometimes they don't. And it can be for a wide variety of reasons. So this is another challenge that I've faced at other institutions when implementing platforms that really require faculty to think differently. That's that paradigm shift is this sort of chicken before the egg and when when Lincoln came up with this image, I said, Oh, you know, this is perfect. Because we it takes because this is a paradigm shift. It's not just a new technology. It's also a shift in your thinking, as Lynn said, in her very first challenge. And because we have to change practice, and change philosophy, it takes time, and it takes some investment and some trust on the behalf of the faculty member into this new pedagogy. So the challenge that we faced as we were recruiting participants for the pilot was Well, I don't know that I want to invest this time, when we don't know if we're going to have it for sure. And so that was one that we had to just go back and forth on. And what I've said is that, you know, if you don't try it, there's a absolute guarantee, we're not going to have it at the end of the pilot. But if we do try it, and we do collect data, and the data does say it's positive, then we have a better chance of being able to adopt it. So really did try to use that to get people you know, and we had to be honest, we couldn't go forth and adopt if there wasn't going to be decent level of participation in it. That's just a financer why we have to choose what we spend our money on. So, so we had that we also had support from the provost in and leadership at the Dean Lovell, and that made it really helpful in terms of saying, you know, give this a try. If we find out it works, well, we're going to then support it going forward. So I know that we're coming to our end of our time, and I believe we are sharing these, these slides. So if you could go ahead and go ahead, go forward, I'm going to put into the chat, just a document with some questions that we've found ourselves asking and answering as we went forward. So you know, just some basic questions about kicking off your pilot journey. You know, what questions Did we ask ourselves when you wanted to move? Did we want to move for adopt into some pilot into adoption? And then what are 10 questions that we looked at, I have our you our email down there, you're going to have the rest of our emails as well. But please feel free. If you have any particular questions you'd like to talk to one or all of us, we'd be really glad to answer that. We've also put some links, if you can go forward to Aaron, that we have created that webpage, that link showed you quickly, of our resources that we included the link into that you have our emails, again, we would be really happy to share anything that we've learned that might be helpful to you. So I know we have a few minutes questions. There's a raffle. I think I saw the raffle in there. But Yellowdig, if you wanted to announce that. And if anybody else had questions that they wanted to ask us in the last couple of minutes,

Brianna Bannach 27:34
sure, I can happen and announce the raffle. And you can look at the chat and see if there's a question you want to answer in the last couple minutes. I'm excited to congratulate Tom power, you have one usage of Yellowdig for six months for one course. So I'll be following up via email, you'll you'll be able to do a pilot just like registed. Awesome. Did you find a question that you would like to talk to you do have about five minutes or so to continue answering questions if you'd like.

Heidi 28:01
So there was a question by Bridget about the use cases. And Ling did comment on class size, we did find out as a factor. We did have one class that was in mathematics and statistics, computing side of the house that was trying to use it in a hybrid situation. And that faculty member would say, Oh, this isn't working for us. Now, I don't want to say that that doesn't work in a hybrid situation. But I'm just trying to be honest about what it where it worked easily. Because I think now that we've learned a lot more, we would be able to guide that faculty member better. And give him some strategies, because I do think that it can be used in a hybrid. In fact, we have another course that's in project management that is using it very well. And he's very pleased. And that is in a hybrid situation. So I think class size, though, for sure. As link identified as one of the challenges. We will be sharing the presentation, and we'll have all the links that are live. And I see one other question coming up. How did we decide to focus? Well, because we had so often heard about, we need to come up with an alternative to discussion forums, that the traditional discussion forum was not working. We had other tools we could offer. We use VoiceThread. And we have a lot of people that are using VoiceThread for multimedia discussions and for a lot of other reasons. But we didn't we weren't having sir success, even with innovative practices and discussion forums. So we really knew that that was our pedagogical challenge. And when Yellowdig came around, we thought okay, this might be that changing environment that's going to allow us to do the change in the paradigm So yeah, in Carolina liked it, I'd be glad to talk to you more about that if he wanted to. But I think that's really it was a true and honest need, that the deans in the faculty were saying for changing how we do discussions. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to allow us to share. And again, we will continue to support you in any way that we can, and have a great rest of the session. I've, I've learned a lot. And I hope that you've felt that worth. So thank you, Ling, and Erin, for pulling this together.

Unknown Speaker 30:34
Thank you, everybody.

Brianna Bannach 30:36
Thank you, Heidi Ling and Aaron, I really enjoyed the session learning about your pilot. We really love having you use Yellowdig. And thank you for all the kind words you said about us. It really means a lot that that you've enjoyed using Yellowdig. And working with our team we pride ourselves on on being a team that cares about our users and wants to be there to help so I'm glad that that you see it that way too. And have a great rest of your night. Thank you, everyone. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 31:03
Thank you

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