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The Role of Faculty Presence in Modern Student Engagement

Presenter: Bob Ertischek, J.D, Senior Academic Liaison, Natalie D Murray, Learning Design and Success Advisor, and Natalie Ramos, Pilot Onboarding Specialist.

Natalie Murray 2:08
All right. And I'm going to share my screen and get us rolling. Thank you all for finding the chats, we're actually going to use chat and q&a quite a bit.

Bob Ertischek 2:21
I do that all the time. Present and they're still sitting yellow buttons pretty attractive. were focused on Yellowdig and yellow, add Yellowdig. So

Natalie Murray 2:33
Welcome, everyone, let's use the chat to just share a few things that we're excited about for the for the fall term or for fall in general, would love to hear some ideas from you all things that you have top of mind something that's exciting. And we're gonna use that chat quite a bit today. So appreciate you. Sharing and you can share it with everybody or just the host and panelists.

Bob Ertischek 2:59
Give you a minute to think about current students, physical environment.

Natalie Murray 3:09
That's great. online and course in music. Oh, great!

Natalie Ramos 3:24
Now, there's still a lot of firsts. This year. I think 2020 was the first for online and now it's hybrid or online. So that's exciting.

Bob Ertischek 3:33
Continuing online education, meeting new students meeting new students was always probably one of the most exciting things for me. new innovative tools for online learning.

Natalie Murray 3:43
Your your Charles, baby students in our learning. Love it. Oh, thank you all for sharing. This is great. Wonderful. I love all of these great ways, great things that you're excited about for the fall. This is awesome. Taking the leap in teacher presence. Awesome. Okay. Fantastic, everyone. Thank you. As I said, we're going to use the chat quite a bit and so appreciate you, helping us create an engaging environment for our webinar today. We'll go through some introductions and get things rolling. So excited to be with you all today. I'll get started and then we can go down to the group. And I do want to point out that we have our contact information at the end. We'd love to hear from you and pre please reach out. I'm Natalie Murray. I have just joined the Yellowdig team supporting learning design and focused on student success outcomes. I've been in higher education since I fell in love with teaching at when I was in grad school and just absolutely love the adult world. Learning Environment and all the amazing ways in which we can support each other in our learning journey. I consider myself a lifelong learner. And I'm currently in a Ph. D. program in human development. So I'm steeped in, and Human Development. But I've been in the higher education industry in a number of different roles. Most recently, in two large institutions went to University of Texas, and then most recently at Western Governors University as the vice president student experience and focused across many service lines, as well as ensuring that our faculty will what we're well supported. And I'm thrilled to be joined by my incredible colleagues here, and another Natalie, I appreciate your time. So continue with the with the intro. So we'll get started.

Bob Ertischek 5:47
I guess that's me next in order and to separate the two Natalie's who need to be kept, you know, arms. Anyway, I'm Barbara Chuck, I'm Yellowdig Senior academic liaison. And I come to Yellowdig. With, oddly enough, a higher education background. In fact, I started off the law career. But around the turn of the century, a little before the turn of the century, I started transitioning to teaching. And right after the turn of the century, I started working as an instructional technologist, faculty developer, helping instructors even back then, with elements of their course online, whether that was distance courses, or even then blended face to face courses, we were starting to experiment with all that kind of stuff. And while I love the promise of online learning, I found that the tools and the pedagogy didn't really support the kinds of engagement and learning communities that I had been looking for. So I moved on, and I went on to teach political science for over a decade in my own face to face courses, I stayed away from LMS tools because of what I just said. And I tried all kinds of wacky experiments from using AOL Instant Messenger, to blogs to, I never used my space, I don't think lots of other things. And they came with their own set of problems. And really, what I was just trying to do, was trying to get beyond the 15 minutes three times a week and learn more from my students and give them more opportunities to to grow. I also ran a professional development community called pathology for a while, which is basically a learning community for faculty members. And now I work the other day to support all of our instructors, in helping them with best practices, getting the most out of the platform, brainstorming ideas, to use Yellowdig, and otherwise, do whatever I can to help. And on to the next, Natalie,

Natalie Ramos 7:36
so exciting. I love like learning and hearing everyone every time. My name is Natalie, I have a background in education. I started my journey transferring from Sacramento Community College to UC Davis, where I actually earned my human development major degree. So I'm really excited to hear we got to chat more about that. I did some work with Carol Dweck research in growth mindset at UC Davis. And I found that this is very applicable, I have to do this in the classroom. So I spent a lot of time in surrounding cities up in Davis, just putting that research into practice into classrooms, decided to move to Berkeley, another college town, and I received my master's of education in university of Pacific. And I taught for two years, I have a background in teaching middle school science. So that was really fun. And then 2020 in March happened and I really actually found myself gravitating to online tech, and how it can be interactive and fun and really create that social presence. But as Natalie Marie said, I consider myself a lifelong learner. So I pivoted from classroom based education to higher education with Yellowdig. And technology. So I'm really excited to to be here.

Bob Ertischek 8:58
Wonderful. Thanks, Natalie. That's awesome.

Natalie Murray 9:02
Bob, I've used so many tools as well for the great course engagement and even like a very sad run with Twitter, and hashtags.

Natalie Murray 9:17
And I'm so happy you're all joining us today. We wanted to start with just thinking about what is like why this topic is so exciting. We were We were pretty excited internally and just love the response from you all for joining. And I know everybody's super busy this busy time of year. So appreciate the time that you're taking to be with us today and to to contribute with this. In this presentation and discussion. We're going to approach this pretty pretty authentically and casually and we have some great ideas and some learnings that we're already incorporating in and then I'm especially interested for you all who are Attending and participating today or might be watching the recording about what topics are really top of mind for you and how we can bring in more research and case studies and explorations and even q&a forums to our monthly webinar series. So feel free if you have ideas to put them in the chat or against send us follow up later. That there's there's obviously a lot of interest and excitement around these topics and want to make sure that we're supporting everyone in this this exploration that I wanted to share why I am personally very excited about this topic.

And it has to do with, with like, three primary things. And being the being the Gen X or that I am, I of course had to write them down. Because anything that's important, I write it now. But the first thing is really, you know, if I'm thinking about the two roles and learning experience, that the students and the faculty member are just the primary ones, they're so impactful to to each other and caring deeply about each one's experience is so valuable in understanding that the total student experience in the in the faculty experience, I'm also incredibly excited about how with the technology and data and even just how we've been disrupted in our working lives, the past 18 months is that the role of faculty is evolving and expanding. And there are so many new ways that that we can be present for one another and new ways of engaging with one another. And I think that that's a really interesting space to see how we're kind of in this transition moment of, of leveraging tools, and also leveraging a new mindsets or approaches to our, our learning experience.

It's just really exciting to me. And then the third piece that we know is so important is is that faculty and faculty presence has a clear impact on student outcomes. And I know that we're all very focused on supporting students to success, we want to ensure that they're successful, we want to give them their best shot, and then also ensure that they're really learning deeply learning those those learning objectives and gaining clear skills and competencies for their future work. So knowing the importance of faculty and the value of faculty presence and the outcomes of students, it's just really excites me for this topic. Natalie, I wonder what's exciting for you for this topic?

Natalie Ramos 12:31
Yeah, absolutely. I think anytime instructors or teachers can use data driven decision making to move forward and, and really leverage the sport of your students in their learning. I think that's, you know, was the focus of my grad school when I when I learned teaching and masters of Ed. So yeah, I think the other thing too, for me is our, our presence and our behaviors influence those around us. And so for me, it's, it's not so much like, what am I going to put together and just, you know, dump to my students, it's, how are we going to interact around what I've designed? What can I learn from you, and working with, you know, 12 year olds for some time, you really learn a lot about yourself and, and kind of just how you show up and what you bring. So I think on an online space, it can definitely learn a lot in a different mode. So exciting, Bob, how about you?

Bob Ertischek 13:32
So? It's a great question. And, you know, for me, in the classroom, whether face to face or online, the highlight of it, for me was not grading or anything like that, and I'm sure this is not unique, nobody loves grading but but being with the students and learning about them learning from them. And, and, really, in my own classes, I really worked hard to, to, to get participation out of my students. Not and not just to people raising their hand in the front row or whatever, but but as many as I could, in as many as wanted to participate. And, you know, in a way, while I thought it was really important for them to process the learning through that, it was selfishly, it was also for me, because I could learn where they were, how are they doing in the class, and I could make adjustments when I understood what they were getting and what they weren't getting. So, you know, that faculty presence and using it in the right way, I just think is something it's a skill that we all have to you know, continue to talk about and evolve our own practice teaching practice.

100% I completely agree, shall we? Yeah. So we just wanted to sort of set the foundation of sort of the way that we're looking at this, we're looking at the Community of Inquiry model here and This Venn diagram sort of record represents that's the word, the various pieces of that puzzle, and what's important for learning. And you know, so the obvious ones are the teaching presence, the one to many, the sage on the stage, the guy who's telling students what's important, and focusing their learning on on those elements and sharing information as well. And then there's that cognitive presence where students are reading or doing assignments and reflecting on the work on their own, mostly, to sort of think about it and learn about it. And then there's the social presence, the social presence, you know, I don't know that everyone thinks that this is an important piece of the puzzle, but it really is, it's the piece that allows students to learn from each other to, to share perspectives to to bring relevance into what they're learning what's happening in the real world, or what's happening in their own lives, and to share that with each other to sort of really further the process, the process of learning.

And if we go to the next slide, Natalie, well done. You know, I think it's fair to say that that social presence is often assumed, or or maybe even just ignored. But let's talk about the assumption of social presence. You know, in an online class, that assignment that prompt an assignment that the instructor gives post, once comment twice, is meant to be that sort of social interaction, but all students are really writing to the instructor there, that's who they're trying to impress. And the commenting that goes on with it is really pro forma. And checking the box, you know, I agree, well said, it's not really creating that total sort of ability to create an organic discussion. And it certainly doesn't allow any agency from students to to determine what they're going to be looking at, or what's important to them. And in a face to face class, you know, we think we're all in the same room, it must be a social presence, and certainly it is social. But again, we're primarily going through that lens of the instructor, the viewpoint from the instructor of the instructor controlling the conversation, plus the time is so limited, not everybody gets the opportunity to really engage in that. And you know, oftentimes, those persons people in the front row in the back row, even if they're equally engaged, they may not have the opportunity to really share perspectives. So that social presence, we think is is really important in building a big learning community, a strong learning community that encourages that is a piece of the puzzle that is often neglected. Anyone want to add anything on to that, Natalie, or Natalie?

Natalie Ramos 17:55
I just think there's really great points brought up right now in our chat of social emotional intelligence, or FCL. is crucial for students. And, and the idea of challenging right assumptions, and an online space, you know, that has to there has to be a medium by which that can happen, because of course, we're still bringing ourselves to the table. We're still carrying emotion behind what we're saying what we're typing. So I think that's a really good point to bring up.

Natalie Murray 18:28
Yeah, absolutely. And the, you know, we all have a social presence, we have a social presence here in this webinar, we have a social presence in our social media. And in certainly in face to face or in other dynamics, I have a social presence in my text, chat with my friends and family. And it's just really, it's just something for us to think about the importance of that social presence in educational experience. And to the point in the chat about challenging assumptions. The great thing about experimentation and trying all these fun, new tools out is to really, like, open, open up some opportunities to challenge those assumptions, and see how educational experiences are evolving. Really fantastic. Um, shall we proceed?

Bob Ertischek 19:15
Yeah. Okay. All right. This next slide, I'm pretty sure you're all probably capable of reading, I'm hoping. But basically, the point here is that when we're in a community, whether it's a student, instructor, led community or a community of any kind, everyone in there is influencing each other in some way in choosing how they participate, and ultimately impacting the learning of everybody else in there. And that's one of the benefits of really bringing out that agency because, you know, we want to have the perspective of some of those students who might not normally have been able to communicate in the past one way or the other, and it's You know, I think we're talking about faculty presence. But that doesn't mean you know, and I think somebody in the chat may have sort of alluded to this, it doesn't mean teacher presence, it's more teaching presence, it's the ability to sort of be there. And certainly there are pieces of the puzzle where you're, you're you're leading, but there are other pieces, where you can be a participant and encourage your students to do a lot of that on their own and to have them shape their own learning. And each other's anyway, I just think that that was great. Let's move on.

Natalie Murray 20:39
Yeah, absolutely. So um, the prompt for you all. And, and just an FYI, there was a comment in the chat, like we're starting with some of the philosophical underpinnings and our thoughts here and and really want to generate an understanding of where students are today and faculty are today. But we will be getting into some specifics later in the presentation of the kind of the how all this is done, and our recommendations there. So appreciate everyone. And I love the chat comments. I really love to hear from you all about who are your students today? What do they need? I'd love to hear what you're learning about students? And? And what might, what might be important to them? By the way, you can send your comments to everyone, I think I know we can see them. Charles, I see your notes about students don't want to participate. And how they're not engaging. And that's that is part of the the hurdle about students are very focused in and their, their drive for their achieving, and they may not understand the value and working towards that. That's great. Who else?

Bob Ertischek 21:57
See what else? Yeah.

Natalie Murray 22:00
love that you're sharing with everyone. students might think things are busy work. And so I'm focused on why it's important. That's great.

Bob Ertischek 22:07
Yeah, you know, I'm setting expectations. You know, normally, today, we talk a lot about instructors setting expectations, not only for, you know, what they're expecting from the students, but but explaining with regard to Yellowdig, the purpose of having that kind of a community, and also what that instructor role is going to be in there. And sharing that that presence is a vital piece of it. Yeah,

Natalie Murray 22:33
I just saw some amazing comments from Helen and Mary, about how complicated students lives are, and how how, you know, important, it is to kind of understand that being a student is one component of their complicated lives and, and various things that they have going on around them. That's great. Thank you all for sharing.

Natalie Ramos 22:55
Yeah, I think that's what's so wonderful about Yellowdig, when we get into that aspect is we are living very complex lives and being able to bring that part of that relevancy into your course or into at least something just opened up so students can share and have that safe space. I kind of feel if I were to answer this, I think, you know, after coming through 2020, now students are really looking for how to find that balance at the community and even relevancy. Yeah.

Natalie Murray 23:29
Yeah, I've seen some great additional points in the chat here as well about students, you know, kind of their emotional state after the last 18 months and and how can we can support their confidence how we can support their motivation, how they might be shy, how they might also be learning a new language and needing opportunities to, to engage in a variety of different ways.

Bob Ertischek 23:56
You know, Natalie, when you mentioned that, and obviously, that was the comment that mentioned it, give credit where credit's due, you know, that's sort of what attracted me to online education in the first place was the idea that students could bubble up, they would be in a situation where they had the students in a classroom who never speak, because they want to think more about what they're going to say before they say it, they have that opportunity in a in an online environment to do that, or the people who just are stuck behind the people who are always raising their hand, they have the opportunity to emerge. So that that was what really attracted me to online learning first place. Yeah,

Natalie Murray 24:37
absolutely. So some of the shifts that I've seen in students, and I'm really understanding whose students are today in so many different contexts, and that kind of idea of traditional does not exist anymore. I kind of want to strike that from our language. And, but but students are, you know, they're working learners, they're really they've got jobs either part time or full time. Time or they have obligations that are also competing, they might be caretakers, I'm seeing that more and more, not just that they might have children, but they might have a spouse or a family member, or even a friend that they're supporting, in some way and caring for one another, which actually, I love, that beautiful sense of community, but it's a lot of, you know, just taxes their their time and, and might, might stretch their priorities. And, and looking at students, you know, we're all much more informed consumers, I know I am.

And that can be consumed for the institution that I'm going to, but also kind of my expectations around what I what my experience should be. And a lot of our students are also very focused on their career outcomes and understanding how connecting with each other, is really driving that social capital. And then and those connections that are lifelong, they're not just in one, you know, in a course, and I responded a couple of times to this person or that person, but that, that you're really able to create these relationships that are ongoing through authentic communication and community. I love all these great things in the chat, this is wonderful, I'll be following up with many of you will be doing that. All right. So wanted to just also mention the importance of for student engagement and ideas that we have around ensuring that we have very social gainful experience, student feel inspired, and then they are able to connect, that it's scalable.

I mean, we hear all the time faculty are pressed for time, just as other members of the academic community, including students are, are pressed for time. So how can we make those engagement scalable, and and very supportive, and then ensuring that you know, focused on outcomes, and that's being the the students success in the course student retention across their program, that they're more engaged in their learning experience. So they have that deeper academic experience, and in their satisfaction and increases? It's, it's really remarkable to to see, as I mentioned, the the social capital capital that is built as students are connecting, and it's one of the things that it's wonderful to see how people are truly connecting, knowing that it's just as this statistic about that 80% of jobs are found through personal and professional networks. And so it's really important in any environment, that we're connecting with each other and building those relationships.

Bob Ertischek 27:45
You know, it's funny that you mentioned that it's not funny, but in some of our programs, especially at the grad level, one of the benefits of the learning communities that we're helping to create is that these these adult learners, these, these professionals are connecting with each other, not only over the learning, but also you know, in business type connections or professional connections that they can take away from, from what they've been doing.

Natalie Murray 28:12
Excellent. Okay, so let's talk about faculty. And we have a couple of questions, you all are doing a great job chatting, which I just love, the engagement. So feel free to answer both or either or one. But for faculty, how are you showing up for your students? And then since 2020, how is your approach in student engaged engagement evolved? And if you're not a faculty member, then then what you're seeing from other from other colleagues or how you might be in your role showing up for students?

Bob Ertischek 28:48
Very clearly 2020 change the way many people have ever interacted before and because, you know, adapt or die, I guess is sort of the thought that or you gotta you got to do it. You can. Yeah, this chat is great. I'm hoping we can save that. Yeah, I think we'll be able to. Yeah, hey, let's see. I'm seeing some things coming in. empathy. flexibility. Oh, my gosh, fun. That's great. I really liked that Carl listening for pains, wounds and anx Yeah, that's definitely social emotional learning and perspective taking that's great. Don't get me wrong. I don't like pain wounds, names. I like Carl's common.

Natalie Murray 29:37
being there to help students even outside the course. Thank you for doing that.

Bob Ertischek 29:42
And, you know, by being here in this in this webinar, not every teacher cares all that much about their students. Let's be honest, I mean, so for some people teaching is an afterthought. It's it's something that they do because they have to not because it's there. Their passion, their their engagement research, which, of course is great. But some people here in this in this webinar, clearly you have an interest in, in being there for your students. So I think that's something you should applaud yourself for.

Natalie Ramos 30:14
Yeah, for sure. I want to play the other card, because you know, having been through teaching in grad school teaching, and then online teaching, it's tough, it's hard, there are days when you're like, I'm not going to look at the chat right now. Let them do their own thing. being engaged all the time as an instructor with your students, is a role in itself of designing what's gonna go in the plan of action, what's going to go in the curriculum. So I, you know, bringing it back to how we show up to our students really starts with evaluating, I think, kind of like, Where, where we're at with ourselves, right, to put it on a social emotional level. So I'm really glad if any of your responses, say, showing up for my students, I got to start figuring out where I am first. Right, that's the first piece. So providing encouragement, believing students, you know, acknowledgement is a key factor in that/

Bob Ertischek 31:10
You know, um, shall we move on to? You know, here's a couple of quotes. Yeah.

Natalie Murray 31:18
Bob, I think you're going to talk a bit about this Oh, cases, and then also how there's kind of a symbiotic relationship between students and teachers.

Bob Ertischek 31:29
Yeah. So this, these quotes are related to an example, at University of Michigan School of Public Health, where they ran a simulation based, sort of public health crisis, opioid crisis. And the students in Yellowdig, all took roles of, and I'm not, I don't know the names of the roles, but they're Dr. Fauci like person or, or the governor and, and they participated in this yellow community, not as themselves, but as those roles. And, you know, the instructor presence here, the faculty presence here really was devising this, you know, figuring out, how can I get my students to see this from a particular perspective, a different perspective than they would otherwise. And the students really felt like they were a part of this, but they also directed their own, you know, they acted as characters in this scenario, and really got a lot out of it. You can see the quotes people loved it. Yeah, let's, uh, sounds fun. That sounds like a game. I think you can learn more about that in our ebook, which I believe we have linked with, yeah.

What is it like? clue? Okay. So, faculty presence in communities, you know, you all are going to have great ideas for this as well. And of course, our experience is best leveraged from Yellowdig itself. And so I thought we would share maybe just a few things related to that. And, and, as I sort of mentioned before, one of the most important things I think, that an instructor can do is set expectations for students at the outset of what they're starting at, you know, let them know, you know, what this community is about being your course, your class is a community, what is the purpose of it, the purpose of this community is to learn from each other, to share our relevant personal experiences, to such to reflect on what's happening in the real world as it relates to the course content, right. And then, you know, in Yellowdig, we encourage instructors to you know, to to look at the community as being instructor modeled rather than instructor led. In other words, they're a citizen of the community as the instructors are, and they can share their passion for the subject matter, which really goes a long way with students, when students know you're interested in what you're doing.

It makes a big difference. I had this one professor once in the basement of a building, with no windows, unventilated, he smoked a pipe and read word for word from the textbook while the pipe was in his mouth. That guy did not motivate me at all. And I was not interested in that that subject matter even if I had gone into it with so so I think it's really important. That was a true story. So I think it's really important to sort of to do that. And the other piece of the puzzle, and I'm sorry, I don't know why I'm certainly saying piece of the puzzle of time. But the other thing you wanted to say it again, is is that students want to know you're there to have that instructor presence to know that what you're doing somebody said in the chat before that it isn't busy work, that there's a purpose behind it, that they're if they do it, they're going to learn from from doing that. You know, and you know, and then obviously sharing expectations as are around for what type of conversations you're going to have. You know, somebody in the chat mentioned, you know that sometimes students are off topic or they they write things that are not exceedingly well thought of, or anything like that.

And that's another area where an instructor can sort of model the kinds of behavior they want to see in the community. And in Yellowdig, one of the ways to sort of do that is through the use of what we call accolades, the badges that have point values that shall tell students you know what, this is something that if you want to get more points you should emulate, you'll create better conversations. I mean, that's, that's our point of view, the student point of view is, Hey, I'm getting the reward, and I see out there someone else got to reward so I'm going to adjust to what I'm doing to get that reward. And that can go a long way towards creating, you know, whether it's in Yellowdig, or somewhere else, sort of surfacing that kind of thing in creating the kinds of conversations that you want students to have. And if I may, just one other little piece before I shared is that unfortunately, instructor presence doesn't necessarily mean instructor domination. When the instructor insinuates himself into a student conversation, the result is often that that conversation then turns strictly to the instructor. Right. You know, I don't care what anyone else was saying, I want to get back to what the instructor was saying, that's where I'm going. And so it's something like this badging. These accolades allow an instructor to, to show that they're present to show the kinds of behavior that they want to see to show what what's important without disrupting the conversation that students are having. Natalie, Natalie, yeah.

Natalie Murray 36:55
I think those are such amazing points, I think about the various ways that faculty show up and show presence and that's, in looking at all these different variety of ways from posting a polling and sharing, or commenting and reactions and the awards, that really you see the type of engagement, both both the time investment, but also kind of the voice being different. And so being that community citizen, if you want your students to be active, be active as well. And, and, you know, remember, we still live in a world where those you know, reactions of thumbs ups, or those smiley faces, or, you know, the fun emojis, like, really, they make us feel good and, and having that simply having a faculty member, give that thumbs up in a conversation or provide an accolade that, that really highlights the importance of a post by a student is, is affirming without inserting a voice into the conversation. So when I'm thinking about the wide variety of ways that faculty can show up and be present in these communities, it's just the sky's the limit, and all of these different social presence ideas. And I made a note about like creating these unique accolades, I think that's where you can let your personality shine as well, emphasizing that importance of curious critical thinking. But also just like, this is a great connection between two topics.

Or it's an awesome application, or perhaps it's a fun, I find interlude or something like that. But however you want to really let your personality and personality of the course shine through those, those accolades can be really wonderful. I love the the also the importance of connecting people and connecting ideas. And you know, the use of we're really used to in many of our social channels of doing the app mention. So at mentioning another participant in the community allows these people to know that they're connected, or that they have ideas to share with one another. And that can be a powerful part of the response. So if you're a faculty member, and you're looking for a great way of helping support students and their learning, remember that those interconnections are highly valuable, and they may not see them. So giving them those prompts of responding to someone and recommending or sharing that their idea was similar to someone else's, and they're exploring that topic together. It's just a wonderful way of helping people see their connections and build that critical, the critical thinking there. There's also the idea of shared and how people are approaching maybe different current events that are shared and how those are interconnected, or might be relevant to one another. And, and Bob, you had an amazing story about how the network graph and can be used to really limit isolation. I know he talked about like the idea of being able to tell if students are isolated That you can reach out to them to get them re engaged. But there's also this emotional component to it as well. And so I'd love for you to share that.

Bob Ertischek 40:07
Yeah, so somebody may know there is a global pandemic that was going on. And last year, during the pandemic, one of one of the instructors using Yellowdig shared a story that, that what you're looking at there on the right side of the screen is the Yellowdig network graph that shows how students are connected with the strength of those connections or who they're connected with. And as you can see up at the top left, right, excuse me, there are some what we call outlier students who haven't really participated in that community. And this instructor went into the, into the network graph, just to take a look around and saw that one student was an outlier student. This was, you know, several weeks into the into the course. And, you know, she wondered why that student wasn't engaging. So she reached out to that student. And it turned out that this particular student, and I think this was graduate class, was extremely depressed and felt extremely isolated, hadn't really, you know, because of the lockdown hadn't seen or been communicating with anybody else. And, and her communication with this student, really made a huge difference brought the student back into the learning community. And I, from what I understand the student thrive from there on out and you know, I'm not going to say that this saved that student's life or anything like that, but it but it absolutely made a difference in that student's life. Just knowing that we're there. 100% Yeah, yeah.

Natalie Murray 41:39
Emily, you also had some great examples of, and I think it was also from your teaching experience, but just the, how there's a cycle of students engagement, and then incorporating that into teaching practice. And I wonder if you would share?

Natalie Ramos 41:57
Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think teaching science part of one of our next generation science standards is to build relevancy into our students daily contextual lives. So you know, I wouldn't touch on the great coral reef Barrier Reef out, you know, on the coast when we live in California, and we're experiencing droughts. So we bring in different samples are pictures or ideas of how it's shown up in our daily lives. And students would bring in pictures of how they've, you know, decided to conserve water at home or started cooking in different ways, or stop purchasing certain types of food and to just be more eco friendly. And I think anytime that you can bring that sort of relevancy into your course. And I love the many communities because I'm in our communities daily, I work with our pilot program here. And so I get to read and see the different ways that students will just start the conversations. And they'll start pulling each other, sometimes modeling off of the instructor doing that, but I think once they get excited about something related to your course, they'll start driving these conversations week to week, as seen on the next slide of kind of looking at that one here on the other screen, engagement and Yellowdig community.

I know we talked a little bit about posting and commenting, awarding accolades. And at mentioning, you can see that your role as a community citizen really takes life throughout your weeks across your course on the right side. Whereas the left side is primarily our instructors are starting off all of the discussions because it is based on a certain week, right? I think someone mentioned Soltan on the stage, avoiding that I had never heard that before. I was laughing and that that's how you could possibly see or interpret the left side. And of course, you have probably me Bob and and Natalie Murray right here as the go getters and green starting off those conversations, but waiting for everybody else to chime in.

Bob Ertischek 44:25
So with Yellowdig community, as we've talked about the different ways you can help support engagement, you actually become that who mentioned that point if the player never defaulted, which I love. That's great.

Natalie Ramos 44:31
Yeah, that's wonderful. And then some weeks you know, started off yet student starter. Um, but of course we we have a huge team behind you, supporting you in ways that you can do that. And we'll, we'll definitely coach you through it or learn from you because we are definitely learning from our own community of Yellowdig instructors.

Bob Ertischek 44:53
Before we head off in this slide. You know, one of the things I like to point out is is that in Yellowdig In a true learning community, these conversations can Evan flow can can reemerge when they become important when there's something in the real world that's happening related to the course, material. And, you know, I say there's ever been a meeting with me, I say, I have way too much. My own course is American government. week two, we talk about the Electoral College, if there's something really happening, where the electoral college is, is be engaging, and meeting, do I want my students reflecting on it? My answer is absolutely. And that's something I just wanted to harp on a little bit more harp isn't the right word. But basically, the idea that I can, I can learn, I know I said this earlier, but I can learn from my students I can I can learn about the world and things that I might not have known.

But beyond that, I can learn to see where they are and adjust my teaching, if I know what kinds of conversations around the course material they're having. And another indicator of that is, on week four, there, you'll see that there's a little question mark next to a student. And that means that a student is asking questions, what a powerful learning experience, not only to feel comfortable asking questions, but to try to answer questions for your peers, hopefully saving again, that instructor, you know, workload to some teeny degree to have students answer each other's questions. But but here again, when you let instruct when you let students answer each other's questions, it's a great, it's a great learning tool, because the students have to understand the question, they have to know the answer. And then they have to figure out a way to communicate that answer effectively to their peers.

But there is still an important thing for the instructor because students want to know, what is the answer that the instructor wants? If 15 students all answer the question, you know, that's, that's great. But they still want to know which one is the instructor says the right one and in Yellowdig, using those little accolades, a little plug is one way that you can do that without typing a word, you can just put an accolade on the best answer, and they know that that's the right answer. So, um, you know, but but basically, this is a learning community that thrives on on student agency, and, you know, guidance and setting expectations by the instructor.

Natalie Murray 47:19
Thanks so much, there's a couple of things, it's kind of coming up for me and I wanted to I just wanted to share that. And, and, Bob, I think you hit upon it with so many students like trying to answer you know, that that's kind of a vulnerable point of a student asking a question to the whole group, and then the students trying to answer and, and they're not going to be perfect, they're not gonna have perfect critical thinking, they're, they're not gonna have a perfect response, or they may have a perfect response. But, but I think that you can use some of these tools to allow students to really exercise their, their learning, in a way that like, addresses some of the perfectionism that we have that when I anytime I raise my hand or ask my question, that I have to be super perfect. And that that can be a barrier for for engagement. And so using community in a way that allows people to, to share things not not that they're not thought out, but that they can be a little bit less well formed to get feedback, and ensure that there's kind of this, you know, cycle of learning and improvement and putting things out there and gaining feedback and moving on.

I think that that's part of this, this overall growth, approach and important for us to, to realize how we can do that in these types of communities. It also helps you recognize kind of two things that I think are important is, no matter the, you know, technology that we have, or or anything, any structures that we have, really what were our mindsets matter in our engagement with students. And there's two things you know, now they mentioned the work of Carol Dweck, and there's been some great research and I think we've got some good research sets sessions ahead of us where we can explore this, but just the importance of a growth mindset and how faculty are approaching students and understanding their ability to, you know, their skills are malleable, and how that impacts their success. And then the The second thing being that, again, that we're citizens together in this community that we're learning from one another, and certainly as faculty, we have knowledge about a subject or domain, but we don't have the same life experiences others and so how that applies in those life contexts is really interesting to leveraging those amazing, you know, adult learning theory, approaches that can really create an a collaborative social environment for everyone.

Bob Ertischek 49:45
You know, okay, yeah, go ahead, Bob. Well, I was just gonna ask a question big First of all, you know, to somewhat based on what you're saying, but also we're seeing a few different things in the chat related to, you know, the instructor, being part of the community and all kind of stuff, and I'm just wondering if you can throw in the chat. What do you have students call you? I had students call me Bob. And I started doing that, because I hated trying to get them to pronounce my last name correctly. But I really found that to be to, for me anyway to sort of lower the barriers for communication with them. And I'm just curious to what what does everyone think

includes the Natalies? Ah, how about Miss Ramos. You were with your younger kids for a little, so?

Natalie Ramos 50:33

if they call me by my first name, it was a different discussion we had.

Bob Ertischek 50:40
Okay. Call me Helen. And that's your name. Okay. That's, that's great.

Natalie Murray 50:50
Yeah, okay. Everybody has a different approach here. And ensuring that that we also use their names, as well. And there's nothing like hearing your own name.

Bob Ertischek 51:02
Absolutely. When it's manageable, making the effort to know the student's name and to communicate with that name is just really important. So I have a funny story about that. I injured myself making guacamole and people yell, they will hear this very important. Anyway, I had to go ultimately, in an ambulance. Oh, never heard this. Yeah, no, I have it here anyway. And in the ambulance, one of the EMTs was a former student of mine. And I really tried hard to learn each student's name. And this student's name was Elizabeth, that was her given name, and that was naming the roster.

And I had been calling her Liz all semester, I'd swear that was and in the ambulance, you know, I said, Hi, Liz. And she's, you know, she said, Well, I go by bath. And I'm like, oh, man, you know, she's gonna let me bleed out. But my life said, I remembered also she got an A, so she, you know, she offered to give me more morphine, but I didn't think but anyway. Yeah. So I think that's really an important part of the processes is getting to, you know, let your students know that you see them as human beings.

Natalie Ramos 52:13
Yeah, and there's definitely a couple chat pieces here about how we introduce our students to Yellowdig. How do we help them understand it's different than a discussion board, it's not like posting in Canvas, or Blackboard or D to L. and we're happy to work with you. We have multiple office hour sessions, we can dig a little deeper into exploring ways you've done in the past and how you can expand on it and modify it and Yellowdig. But, you know, I'd say in general takeaway leaving with Yellowdig or not, from here, I think the biggest thing is, you're human and show up, as you know, show up as a real person with life outside courses and make things a little more relevant. Um, ask your students, I think we can learn a lot from our community of learners.

Bob Ertischek 53:04
Thanks, Natalie. Yeah.

Natalie Murray 53:06
Yeah. And I'll just springboard off of that. And like, try all kinds of new things and show up in a variety of different ways. And I think that's part of the possibilities here. Bob, any last thoughts? Before we share the last slide? I'm just gonna say, here's our contact information read? Yes.

Bob Ertischek 53:24
I mean, I think it was a really great size session, I can't wait to go into further depth and read all the comments in the chat. I didn't get to read all of them while we were talking. But the ones I saw look really insightful and really interesting. But I also just want to reiterate, please reach out to us. If you want to consult on your individual course, please shoot me an email Bobby Yellowdig calm and our office, our sessions, just to clarify a little bit are to allow you to ask questions about Yellowdig pedagogy or technology. And, you know, we'll make we'll make sure that we answer them for you. All right. Thank you.

Natalie Murray 54:01
So if you're interested in our ebook made for humans, hot off the presses, or any of our fall semester kickoff sessions, the information is here. If you're currently trying out or using the Yellowdig, engage platform and would like to work together on a case study. I know that we would love to do that. And we'd love to highlight your success and your learnings in your communities. Always fun to see how students are engaging and how faculty are engaging. And these communities highly involved. Thank you so much. Anything else you'd like to share before we head out?

Bob Ertischek 54:43
Have a great semester everybody.

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