Toward Resilient Teaching & Learning: Lessons Learned from COVID
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Shaunak Roy 0:04
Hello, good afternoon. My name is Shaunak Roy founder and CEO of Yellowdig. Welcome to yet another Yellowdig webinar. We have a exciting panel today and the topic is towards resident teaching learning. Before I kind of go ahead and introduce our wonderful guests, just say a couple of things, just for us to get going. So firstly, if you haven't heard about Yellowdig, we are an active and engaged learning platform designed for higher education, K 12, and corporate training. But today, the webinar is not about Yellowdig. So you're not going to hear a presentation from us. But rather, this is a forum for us to share our collective knowledge around how teaching and learning is evolving, especially as we are getting out of a pandemic. So we often put together these webinars. And the primary goal of these webinars is to bring in very interesting guests from our network, and have them share their perspectives around how they are innovating around their teaching and learning practices. So today, we have a wonderful panel. So just to kind of quickly introduce and then I'll kind of pass it on to the rest of the team. We have Michael Feldstein, who is the co founder of Argos education. And many of you may also know him as the chief accountability Officer of illiterate. We have Vicky Crittenden, Professor of Marketing, from Babson College. And we have Dr. Jess Ballenger, who is also a clinical professor from Drexel University. Today, Michael is going to moderate the webinar, and I'm going to participate as part of this panel. But one thing I do want to mention is, this is a conversation. So please be active in our chat, ask questions, share your point of view. And do not forget to mention your name and name of your institution so that we can read it out when we are kind of you know, addressing you. So with that, Michael, off to you.
Michael Feldstein 2:20
Thank you very much, Shaunak. And it's great to see all of you here today. I'm happy to be here with our distinguished panelists. Let me just give you a little bit more introduction, and then we'll dive right in. So first of all, those of you who have been to these before, you'll know that Shaunak, usually moderates that's, I think, part of laudable policy not to put Yellowdig Yellowdig, in the middle of the conversation, but to make this about education. I actually suggested to him, that it might be good to have him as a panelist because I don't think we hear often enough about the experiences and perspectives that that platform providers can bring to us in virtue of the experiences they have working with and talking to customers every day. So Shauna should be considered another educator on the panelists for today's conversation. On I am just to reinforce what he said earlier about conversation, we're going to keep this very conversational, please think of this as not a bunch of talking heads where you're listening. But we're all say sitting around the table, at a restaurant at a conference. And those of us who are quote, unquote, on stage are really just sitting next to each other at the table, having a conversation. And y'all are listening, keep the chat conversation lively. Feel free to talk among yourselves as well as to us and feel free to jump in with a question as you like, I'm going to set the table with a couple of slides. Not too much, and then we're going to jump right into the conversation. Okay. So I want to start this is some great research work by tight partners. That I think really underscores a little bit of the myth about what we've all been through with COVID which is that despite great travails a lot, many faculty many educators really rose to the occasion, really put in the time to think through their teaching practices and came out feeling like they've learned something positive from it. So I just setting the table there. We're all COVID is of course the backdrop for everything. And we're now looking at In the post COVID world, but it's important to see what lessons we've actually learned from that experience. From the same report, we can see that, you know, faculty are particularly were particularly concerned, during COVID, with keeping students engaged, providing additional support. There's some traditional stuff in here about administering secure tests and exams and transitioning to content, and so on and so forth. But, but the top two are really notable, which is engaging with the students and providing them with support. And, as we quoted from the same, the same report, faculty are very much aware of how difficult it is to engage students in an online environment, especially when they're new to it, they don't have the practice, and they don't have they haven't built up all the tools that one builds up if you're an experienced, online educator. And it also really helped them develop new levels of empathy for their students. We were all in each other's houses, we're just talking before we started about how we all know each other's pets and children now, and we know our students travails a little bit more. At the same time, this is from different study, it was not an easy experience for any of us, some still isn't.
There's just a sense of, of weariness and and just the sense that you can't let your students down and you don't know how to help them in some cases, and also the sense of exposure and embarrassment, these are, these are actually themes that we hear, that are consistent with research on educators worried about trying new teaching techniques, and new educational technologies in general. So the pandemic really exacerbated that drew people into the deep end of the field pool and their their feelings, their sense of responsibility to their students really weighed heavily on so just lastly, you know, I just want to get back to this point about faculty really rising to the occasion. And I want to use the word faculty, I, I include adjuncts, I include any, any any educator in the classroom. There are some good lessons learned there about frequent assessment, module eyes, naturalizing learning outcomes, adjustment of assessment approaches, his use of new engagement tools, what these all add up to, to me is finding out new ways to talk to your students more frequently, you know, modularizing, learning outcomes and frequent assessment. Those are those are both engagement strategies. They're not just assessment strategies. So with that, let's that was a lightning tour through a little bit of context setting. And let's, let's dig right in. I see some great folks here in the audience. Thank you all for introducing yourselves, please do feel free to introduce yourselves as you come in. Just it's it's been a couple of it's been a couple of years. It's been a couple of crazy years. Can you tell us a little bit about your, your experience of the pandemic as an educator, your personal stress, how that manifested what you were worried about and, and what you hear from your colleagues? Sure,
Jess Ballenger 9:01
well as it as the pandemic started, I felt initially that I was in a good position, at least in terms of my teaching, let's, you know, I'm just gonna, gonna stick to that. But because I have been doing online education, a significant part of my teaching has been online since 2014, asynchronous online. And I've been using Yellowdig since 2018. With I think, very good results in terms of community building, kind of replacing that sense of having a real place online. The challenge was when we were told, for the classes that I had been teaching face to face, you've got to do them synchronously. In a zoom environment that has proven to be very difficult, I have struggled with that enormously. So I think that has been my greatest sense of anxiety, you know, you turn on, you come to class, right? In this environment, and you see this wall of names, because the students don't want to turn their cameras on. And I, you know, I know, different factor feel differently about that. I don't know the situation there, and I don't know what they're dealing with. It's, it's also different to be have your face on the, you know, camera is quite different than being in person on class. So I sort of respect that. But it just saps my energy level entirely. I've really struggled with how to bring the energy that I found either in a face to face class or an asynchronous online class, ironically, because because I feel like we have the tools and I understand the tools to make the asynchronous online experience very real and present to my students. I'll be honest, I'm still struggling with how to manage a zoom class of 30 to 50 students and make it feel like a place I feel like I'm confident that they're with me. And I come away with the kind of energy I need to kind of keep going. So
Michael Feldstein 11:16
anyway, yeah. You're the chat is indicating you are not alone in that feeling. How about the sense that you got from the folks on the other side of the screen where their cameras were on or off? And what do you what was your sense of the student stresses and and,
Jess Ballenger 11:36
well, I teach in, in a nursing and health professions program, very many of my students are working. They've been facing enormous burdens, in their work lives. Our online program has, is kind of geared towards kind of mid professional students seeking certification to advance in their careers. As I say, it's been been enormously difficult for them, most of them have, you know, demanding jobs, and all sorts of family situations. For the traditional students, which is more our face to face population. I think they've had a different kind of burden. I'm sure I'm not the only one who is repeatedly stunned to meet students who have who who are. Now juniors haven't really, you know, taken an on campus class haven't really so so how do we, you know, there's this sense of loss. I've heard from my students, that this pandemic has kind of taken their, their college experience away from them, or diminished in some important way. So there's been I don't know how to dress that as an instructor in a classroom. But I think that's a burden I've, I've discerned from my students, some of them say directly others, I just sort of have that feeling.
Michael Feldstein 13:06
So it sounds like it's a little hard to disentangle their stress from yours.
Jess Ballenger 13:13
Yeah, that's, that's very fair. Yes.
Michael Feldstein 13:15
Yeah. Vicki, I, I'm sorry. Go ahead, please. No, no,
Jess Ballenger 13:19
no, it's it's, it's, uh, we're good. Let's let's hear from Vicki.
Michael Feldstein 13:23
Yes. So Vicki, I know that you recently edited a journal issue on COVID topics and that one of the articles was on was on faculty stress, particularly marketing faculty, I wonder what you could tell us about what the research is telling us.
Vicky Crittenden 13:43
And I will preface this by telling everyone that since I am at a business school, and we offer a blended learning programs, so many of our faculty were already used to being online synchronously with their students, occasionally during the week, so we didn't have with the graduate students the same degree of startup stress. But I do know that hearing from my colleagues who've been who were teaching in the undergrad program in March of 2020, that stress hit really hard for them, and that the undergrad students were not used to taking classes online and the faculty who were teaching them weren't used to it. So I will say that in the research and some of the research that we've seen in in those special issue that some of my colleagues, three of my colleagues from around the world actually collaborated for us for the Journal of Marketing education. Something that came to light is that the pandemic and Michael I think you mentioned this in your opening As the pandemic exacerbated, and likely Excel that all add likely accelerated our pre existing trends. So everyone was just thrown into, to what we were doing. And I think, from what we've seen in the research, the stress on the part of the faculty is that many of us have already had a difficult time having a work life balance as faculty members. But the online aspects and particularly the synchronous as just talked about, actually even broke down that barrier between home and, and work life even more, it just shattered that barrier. Because many of our students who would have been, let's say, in my boat and a Batson classroom, we're now at home, you know, on a 1415 hour time difference. And they were expected to be with a with the faculty synchronously and so we were constantly juggling that to try to accommodate some of these students where we're not alone in their stress, because another word that that has come out here was empathy. And, and so one of the articles that we have coming out in this special issue really does talk about stress and and the resulting burnout from, from what we've been having to engage with. And that was because we, as faculty often internalize that customer centric mentality, unless we do as marketers, and we were trying to internalize that so much with our students. And so that was leading to the stress and the burnout. And also on the notion of empathy. One of the articles that's forthcoming in the special issue, talked about empathy. And it was just trying to talk about things we as faculty could do, to display empathy in a virtual environment. And I'm just mentioned that Yellowdig has been great for him and doing that. And at some point, during this webinar, I can talk about how much I've benefited from using networked platforms for that. But basically, that this article really talks about that, how how we as faculty have had to do things differently, extend deadlines, or just acknowledge that your Wi Fi may not be working right now, or just acknowledge that it's 1am for you, but it's 7pm. For the rest of us. I was online with a class last night and one of my students was in Brazil. And I was like, how are you doing? He goes, Well, it's Monday. Yeah. And you could see it. So the whole class have embraced that. So I think it's a way to try to show that empathy, just like we would in a face to face environment, we have to we had to figure out new ways to do that. Now.
Michael Feldstein 18:07
So I'm hearing a lot from the panelists. I'm also seeing a lot on the chat about empathy. Maybe nobody's you use the word grief, but I certainly am feeling a little bit of grief. And there's also this sense of, of adjustment. Brian, I see your question about the synchronous, asynchronous balance. I don't know that we have the right setup palette panelists to give you data about that today. But I think by the end of the conversation, I hope that we will be talking about some strategies and some ways in which the synchronous and asynchronous st creating a holistic community really, in the class can be useful to that to address the question. It's also I think, a very individual affected by a lot of different circumstances. So Shaunak, I'm sure that like many edtech providers, you were inundated with new needs, some from current customers, some from new customers, when the pandemic hit, and that you were interested, maybe some of the new current customers are asking new questions are facing new challenges. What did you hear from the educators that you were talking to? What did you learn from them about the challenges to them and their students in terms of the stress that the pandemic put on them and what they were looking perhaps to you or just in general, to try to figure out how to address
Shaunak Roy 19:58
Yeah, I mean for us You know, as you would imagine, you know, as a vendor to a lot of these institutions, you know, for us, you know, we talk to faculties all day long. And one of the bigger challenges is essentially faculty time, like, you know, if you think about, you know, as Vicki, you pointed out that faculty is busy, because they have juggling so many things. And when they hear from a vendor, you know, ask for anybody else. The first thing is, is it going to create more work for me, there is a potential for value, right? I mean, people see the value Yellowdig, or any other tools, but what is the the investment that is needed to get the technology right, for his or her course or program? That is a big challenge for us. And that is where we have a lot of conversations with faculties to see how we can support them to make the transition. If they're interested, let's say use a platform like ours, or they are trying to solve a problem in terms of connecting with their students, or saving time to do certain tasks. Having them kind of actually getting their time to have a conversation with them, I would say is one of the bigger challenges. So a lot of the things during the pandemic, when we started, we were trying to help as many faculties as possible by making our tool available to them by giving them the support they needed. And then we realize that we have to do more in that area. So we realize that we probably have to kind of engage with them more in the design phase of when they're actually thinking about using technology to kind of unpack the problem, like what problem are you trying to solve? So yeah, I mean, I think going back to to the main point, I would say is that trying to support them to be able to make their time investment valuable for them and their students is a constant challenge for companies like us.
Michael Feldstein 22:04
I'm gonna put a pin in that and come back to that, because I think that that sort of that sense of, actually, maybe we use that as a transition, it's like, well, that sense of getting value for your time. I want to I do want to make a note of Nick's comment, that these are, these topics are difficult for academics to talk about some untenured faculty are hesitant, discuss their strike struggles, some tenured as well. There are there there are a lot of different dynamics at work, or at least a few. One, of course, courses. That the best and worst thing about one of the best and worst things about teaching is, the last thing you do before you start teaching is you close the door to your classroom, if you're in a physical space, right, it's your own, it's your own world, right, and that is liberating and isolating at the same time. And then on top of that, you have 567 years, however many years of training in your field, none of which was likely to be about how to teach. And so you somehow are supposed to feel like you're an expert walking in. So there are a lot there. We could spend probably 20 minutes on on this topic alone. But I think it's important for us to, to be able to speak openly about these these issues. And in terms of that, the flip side of that, like where do you get that energy back from? Right, which I think is part of what Shauna was was talking about. Vicki I, you know, I had a chance to, you know, briefly read through that piece on faculty burnout, and one of the, the bits that jumped out at me was that faculty who who had higher research productivity, felt less burnout.
Vicky Crittenden 24:23
I think that was a very interesting finding from that research. And I can, I can personally attest to that. And I think that that's because I was able to keep my, my research going, which is 1/3 of the reason that I'm in academia is because I love doing the research, particularly the educational research. And so I think that I can I can speak for myself on this is I could still control that because what we lost with a pandemic was control. So suddenly, Michael, you know where you mentioned, we could close the classroom door? And then we could be the what would it be the sage on the stage? Are we now we're more like what one of my colleagues refers to as the meddler in the middle, is that we. But we lost that control. Because we didn't, we were learning as faculty how to make these things happen simultaneously as when they were when they were happening. And so we pivoted quicker than we probably as academics ever pivoted. But yet, on the research side, I could still control that I could still do my research. And for years now, I've been interacting with colleagues either through WebEx or zoom on my research, or we would exchange information on email and self. I think, for many faculty, we forgot that, in that quick pivot, we forgot that we were using these technological skills for our research productivity. And we needed to figure out how to translate those technical technological skill set to our teaching productivity. That that's that's something that from a, a burnout perspective that we had to think about. And I think those faculty, I can't speak for those faculty, and that survey, but to me that that was what jumped out at me is because I could control that. And so therefore, my, my overall burnout was probably less than others. Back to that customer centricity, I wasn't just thinking around the clock about my students. I could silo that a little bit, and think about my research and feel some feel some power, if you will, because of that research. Mm hmm.
Michael Feldstein 27:11
Yeah, well, I can I can speak for my households and say that there was a tremendous sense of loss of control here, for us. And that the moments when we felt best during the pandemic, was when we felt like we could do something for ourselves or someone else. And, yeah, go ahead. Yes,
Jess Ballenger 27:30
oh, just want to chime in and endorse all that and say, one of the difficulties also has been this disruption planning. So you know, you get a teaching assignment. It's, I've got to teach in person class, the omachron variant crops up, and all of a sudden, I'm told, okay, first two weeks, got to do asynchronous, like that. Like, like you say, I'm not sure we've learned it. But we've had to pivot so incredibly fast. And it just, you know, the traditional ways of planning just are not really working. I mean, I think I think we have to move so quickly now that I don't know at some kind of flexibility that we need, that we were harvesting, I think that's what we're developing. So just just inverse that.
Michael Feldstein 28:21
Yeah, so let's talk about that about flexibility and control and what that word control means in a, in an exciting classroom. A little bit of background, for me, that's relevant. I started out I come from a family of K 12 educators, I started out life teaching eighth grade, and there is no place in which you have less control than in a classroom full of 13 year olds, at least in the conventional sense, right? If you buy control, you mean predictability mean, I do X and Y happens, that that that wasn't the kind of control that I could have. And I wonder, Jess, if you could reflect a little bit more, because I wonder if there's something there in the like you said, express a sense of comfort in your, in your asynchronous teaching before. And I wonder if you could relate that comfort to some how you would characterize or if you would characterize a sense of control in that teaching environment.
Jess Ballenger 29:37
I so so let me tell you a little bit about my teaching in general. First, I think I think that's important. I teach bioethics and health humanities subjects in which I'm trying to cultivate a confidence and competence in my students, most of whom are involved in or are embarking on a career in the health professions, a sense of confidence and competence about talking about some of the most really difficult, ambiguous issues difficult both emotionally, politically, but also conceptually, theoretically things, you know. So I've always been committed to a discussion based pedagogy. And you talked about, you know, 13 year olds, but I think if it for that pedagogy to be successful, you have to accept a kind of unpredictability, like, if you're going to tell people, I want to hear what you have to say, and this is what this class is about, you actually have to embrace what they say and sort of go with it, you can't move people down, you can't dismiss but you can't kind of rig the results, right, you kind of have to go in openly and preparation is more about kind of preparing yourself for the various sorts of things that that have to happen. What was difficult when I first got put into a asynchronous teaching environment was well, how do you reproduce that sort of sort of openness and what what I found with traditional, like, approaches to discussion in a synchronous online environment was these threaded discussions where, you know, I post some kind of provocation. And what you get is, it's another writing assignment. And they and they just write and it's all it becomes very formulaic. And and so, you know, I was, you know, struggling, how do I how do I get past that? And I just thought, why couldn't there be a, you know, some kind of tool, some kind of platform that is like social media and the likes of just is built in that mode. So, you know, when this tool yellow, they came along, like, to me was perfect. And so my confidence is that I feel like I can get the same sort of dynamic where I'm really an active participant, rather than the guide, or, you know, the the person's kind of leading people around to this conclusion of that conclusion. Um, I'm not sure if this answers the question, but
Michael Feldstein 32:18
I don't know it does. Yeah, please, Vicki.
Vicky Crittenden 32:21
Yeah, so I thought I could add on to what Justin's talking about. And I'm, because I'm probably and again, I did not coined this phrase medlar in the middle, but because I do a lot of discussion in the classroom and as in, you know, when we're face to face, which is is difficult when you're in a synchronous or asynchronous environment. And so what I had to align with my tech people is figure out how can I still be Vicki teaching who is very willing to give up control in the classroom? How can I give up that control, and an online environment and, and I'm not saying this plug, Yellowdig, but I'm plugging Yellowdig here is because the platform enabled me to do that, and enabled me to, to give up control, I kept controlled by by keeping, um, I defined the topic. And in 2020, we also had a we not only were we hit with a pandemic, we had diversity and inclusion issues that we were all facing suddenly. And for me, it became very clear that I could bring diversity and inclusion into the marketing content, and it needed to be in the marketing content. And I'd had it in the marketing content previously. But I couldn't bring it full force into the classroom, shape a project, shape the project. So that was my control. But then I had to relinquish control to the students to have a conversation on the Yellowdig platform, about diversity and inclusion as related to what we do as marketers. And it was that I noticed in the chat, where someone is saying that control learning is passive learning. Yes, it is. And so to figure out how to give up that control and make an active learning, we have had wonderful conversations about the topic of marketing, and about the topic of diversity and inclusion in marketing. Over the past while since the pandemic started with my classes, I can and that was because I've always been willing to give up control and the platform enabled me to give up Ctrl to the students to create conversations. And, and of course, as just said, you have to, you have to sometimes guidance. And so I'm because I'm active in the conversation and a face to face classroom. I'm also active in a conversation about diversity and inclusion and marketing. I'll create posts, just like my students will create posts. But my students because it's a conversation, don't feel like they have to respond or like or comment on Vicki's posts, because it's the conversation. And so I think that is something that in this newer way of teaching, one, we do have to figure out what are your, your points of reference to, to where where are the points where you can give up control? Yeah, how can you shape the learning environment so that you willingly give up control? Without feeling like you've totally lost control completely? If that makes sense? No, you have to determine your own trigger points for that. And I think I was I, I work really hard on that. Now, as I think about courses for next year, I think, okay, how can I? How can I, as a faculty member, know, at what point I'm willing to give up control. And I think that technology has enabled that. And I've said enough about that. But it's just a, it's a wonderful experience to combine those two, giving up control because of the technology.
Michael Feldstein 36:46
Yeah, this is I think this is really going to be the theme for the rest of the conversation and Shawn, that I'm going to be getting coming to you shortly. Because this is sort of the story you tell. And I think it's a difficult story, to communicate and convince faculty up. But I want to dig into this word control a little first, because it's a subtle one. Like we all agreed for this, from the start that feeling a sense of control, is it was critical to mental health, and during the pandemic. And I've just heard, Jess and Vicky, both of you talk about how letting go of a certain kind of control. Is is important and liberating. And I want to get back to that. But But I also want to I want to return to your earlier comment, Jess about teaching through zoom, or some other synchronous product versus this asynchronous conversation, in light of the goal that you described for your overall teaching. And I wonder if your sense of control what what you feel in control of or what you care about control of? And I'm, I'm going to restrain myself from putting words in your mouth about that. But if maybe there's a different sort of control that you're reaching for, that you don't get from that sort of broadcast the zoomy thing?
Jess Ballenger 38:25
Yes, I'll tell you what, I feel pretty clear about what I don't get from the asynchronous zoom. Setting, and that is a clear sense of my relationship to the students. Right. So when I'm in a classroom, we all know anyone teaches in person, you know, all all the incredible, like, you know, barrage of information you're able to use to sort of figure out how things are going with the students. You don't get any of that, with the asynchronous setting, you get, like, like I say, because most students don't want to turn their cameras on, I get zero information. There's not even any ambient sound. I can't you know, if someone's clicking on a computer, which is, you know, a sound, you know, that's not a great sound, like you're in a physical classroom and your people, but maybe they're taking notes. But, you know, maybe they're buying shoes, I don't know. None of that is available, right? So that so it's hard to, to know, to feel my sense of connection with them and and to feel reassured about what my role is in the asynchronous environment. Um, you know, it because it's this virtual distilled place where, where we're there for this purpose, I can have a, first of all, I can kind of tell with the quality of things they're posting, whether they're engaged or not, and sometimes it takes a few weeks of, of sort of fun Fine tuning is because they're clearly you know, you mentioned, Vicki how they don't necessarily have to respond to you often at the beginning of the term, they will be responding to me. Like, like, like, they'll no one reply to everything I say like, it's a prompt, it's, this isn't a prompt, you do not mean like, I'm just another, just not a perspective here in this kind of thing. So, but but you can pretty quickly get tuned in so that you're having a kind of interaction, yeah, you don't get the rich, you know, complete 360 Sensoril, like, feeling of engagement. But through words, and if you you know, I always try to encourage assignments that involve images, I've been doing more like, you know, mean assignments and stuff like that. You just, you get that feeling of I'm with them, we're, we're struggling in this struggle together. We're, we're trying to figure this out together. That's what I'm not. That's what I'm not getting off the asynchronous setting. And what I what I think I will do in the future, if we have to go back to a synchronous settings is I'm going to push back and I rather synchronous online sessions, I'm going to push back and say, Yes, I think we should have some synchronous, because the word we were given was our students will feel like ripped off if they don't have classes at a certain time. At least, that's the message I that's kind of I'm reading between the lines there. That's the, the message I took. Um, I think we should have synchronous sessions where we're all together, but not all the time. And I think we should build community because we can't be together physically the way we normally would. We should build that community offline, and then bring it in a meaningful way to to some specific kind of online forms, like that's the format, I would want to think about that whole either or synchronous or asynchronous. I'm gonna, you know, if we have to go back to teaching are face to face classes. Synchronous, I'm going to push back and say, I think it will be a richer experience. And I think I can build a a more engaging experience by combining an asynchronous environment in a synchronous environment.
Vicky Crittenden 42:25
Michael, could I just add a little bit, please? Well, when Jess was talking about engagement, engagement with my students is something that is very important to me. And I take it, as my students will tell you to very personally. So what I have started doing is I actually have reflection journals for the students. I'm very big on what Carl Weiss refers to as reflexive reflex reflection. And I give the students a prompt for the week, and they have to write a paragraph or something in their reflection journal. And but the key thing is that they are reflecting on the week's content, even though we weren't in the classroom together. But I respond to each of those students. Personally, I was on a panel last month or sometime. And the question came up, Vicki, how can you respond to all those students in their reflection journals, and I think that, again, you as a faculty member have to learn how to manage that maybe students don't have maybe students don't write every week. But you it's a great way to make a personal connection with those students, because I asked them to maybe relate the you know, the topic we covered with what they're doing at work, or relate the topic we covered to something, I read it and I respond in that journal, that response might only be two or three sentences, both for the student, it's showing the professor couldn't then cares. And Professor Krugman is making a connection with us. So again, I had to learn how to use the technology to simulate a wrap up in the course, like at the end of a class, when you're meeting face to face, you might take the last five minutes to get people to get the students to wrap up the topic. We I asked them to do that in the journal and then I take the time to respond to that wrap up, I read it and you would be surprised and in a very positive way, and what the students want to share with you about what's going on in their life that is related to the topic for the week, and all its makes sense for me to respond. And I really get to know the students just something I might have been able to do a regular face to face environment and get to know them, I promise you in the same way.
Michael Feldstein 45:13
Yeah. So it's no Go ahead, please
Jess Ballenger 45:16
just want to toss. Amen to all of that, Vicki, the one thing I've done in a way that I'm very happy with is in my, our masters, I teach an online Master's class, asynchronous. And I schedule a phone call or a Zoom meeting with each one of them individually. And it's just an enormous thing. It's not something I feel like I can manage with large number, you know, large enrollment, undergraduate classes, but it's enormous. Just just that 15 minutes of conversation, I think changes everything, everything.
Michael Feldstein 45:53
That's actually a perfect transition. I wanted to talk to you, Sean, I think what we're hearing is two different kinds of senses of control. Right? There's the traditional control over the TIC tock of the progress through the lecture or the class or the syllabus. And there's the control over your, your sense of we don't really have a word for it, but the class miss the group, right, the dynamic what's happening. Right? And it's it may not just be, you know, I think we're hearing from both, Vicki and Jess, it's, it's, it's more subtle than just synchronous versus asynchronous, you can assert the former kind of control all too easily in an asynchronous environment. Right. And I remember the first time I heard your colleague, Brian ravine, who is participating Burdine, sorry, was participating on today's chat. Talk to me about this, you know, well, we try to discourage that. You know, we try to we try to encourage people that cultivate a sense of class community. Well, I really believe in that.
Shaunak Roy 47:11
Yeah, I mean, look, I mean, by the way, I'm so you know, the kind of comments, Jessie and Vicki that you're making is kind of make me smile, because, you know, one of the things that you're pointing out, which is, and I'll get to the topic of control, but the whole idea that, you know, also kind of designing this environment so that it doesn't feel like disjoint you know, what is happening in an asynchronous environment, you know, the conversation that you're having, that actually impacts the synchronous when you're together, because there's more relationship in place, right, people know each other slightly more. So they may open up a little bit more and share their point of view is so powerful. And the stories that you're sharing is, we do share, I mean, one of the things, one of the favorite things we hear from our instructors is, you know, they will say, I'll paraphrase, like I hear from my students, I would never hear from in the classroom. If I have, like 1015 students, maybe I can get them talk in a small amount of time when we are together. But very often the students who are not talking, they would not talk, they are not going to jump up and, you know, say something insightful, for whatever reason, right? They've never be comfortable and whatnot. But, but that happens, because when there is more time available when they are on their own in their home, in not under the watchful eye of others, they can think of something and write something which is truly interesting and kind of sparked that relationship that wasn't there before. So I think that is fascinating. And this is what we tried to do as a company, you know, on the question of control, Michael, I think this is a very interesting topic. I think there is a Goldilocks zone, but let me explain this, which is, you know, there is one theory, which is okay, I'm just going to keep it completely open, right? You know, the, the feedback could be that, okay, go and talk to you, yourselves. Like when you're not in the classroom, make sure that you work with one another, make sure you share your ideas or, you know, say something in the discussion board, or whichever forum you're using. And the other extreme is, you know, it's a prompt, right, you have to post once or comment twice and exerting some sort of control so that they get some response. Like typically, we see that because instructors want to make sure that there's some response that comes back at the end of the week. Both doesn't work. Like when we look at the data in the back, what we see is that both of them in one scenario where it's completely optional, you will never have the students talk like you might find only 10% or 20% of the students. The typically the ones who are anyhow engaging in the real classroom are actually engaging in the forum. And they will probably engage for a week or two and then they will die out so it's like a ghost town at some point, right. So that could be one reality. The other reality which is very overly engineered by Discussion boards with prompts and things like that, which will be graded, potentially graded for quality, you will find discussions but they are not authentic discussions, they are like checking the box going in there posting, nobody's reading each other. And they're just saying just to get the discussion board done. It's not fun for anybody like that environment like not for the students, not for the instructor to kind of read and read those discussions. So the answer is somewhere in the middle. And in the middle, there a variety of ways of actually designing for it, we find instructors doing amazing thing like Vicki the example that you gave, like, you know, like an actually engaging and summarizing, you know, discussions are in our topical discussions could be very interesting. You know, sometimes we find instructors, you know, we have a gameful approach to this, where we encourage students to actually interact with one another, without keeping a threshold around what counts for interaction, like the the basic idea is that all we are asking you is, you know, come and make a contribution in your own way, either it could be a new post that you create, or somebody else's caught, you know, comment on somebody else's post. But at the end of the day, if you do that, the idea is that over time, there will be more and more interesting discussion and authentic engagement, that will happen, and we see wonderful results with that. So, we have done studies now, it'd be fine that, you know, if the students are more, you know, talking to one another in a natural way, and the instructor comes in and guides the conversation, sometime by sharing an example that they're not talking about somebody sometimes giving a badge to like a very high quality contribution, like that drives the best outcome. So a lot of flexibility to the students, the instructors is almost guide on the side. If that makes sense.
Vicky Crittenden 51:46
I just can I add something here, because I'm also based on what shock was, was saying and looking at the chat. There's the commentary there about the control and flexibility. I think, when thinking about the conversations, let's just save it on Yellowdig. I feel like at my control comes in and shaping the course content. And the flexibility then comes through allowing the conversations that the students are having simultaneously when you're thinking about this as a resilient learner. And we were talking about, you know, we have we are resilient educators, and we have resilient learners is that resilient learner will engage in that conversation, without any control mechanisms. But the reality is that 100% of our students are not resilient learners. So what has worked well, for me, with using, let's say, the yellow day platform, is that I manifest that control by the students have to, to reach their, like 1000 points each week in the conversation. So that allows me to have the control so that the, I don't want to call on resilient learners, but the students who wouldn't normally be as active, I can exert some control to get them to be active in the conversation, I'm giving them the nudge, because I Yellowdig has enabled me to have that control mix mechanism, I have the flexibility on that, that if they choose not to participate, I still at the end of the semester, or the end of the term have to give a grade. So I think in looking at the the chat Comm, you know, in the chat, we are constantly juggling what we can do as educators from a control standpoint, just like we would do in the free pandemic classroom, and how much flexibility can we give a resilient learner will step up to the plate and own their learning environment, they're going to engage in that learning conversation without Vicki having to exert any control, I have students on yellow dig, that the minimum points that they have to have over four weeks is 4000. They're hitting like 6000 because they're that they are resilient learners they are. They're taking their own control there. So I just wanted to add that we constantly have to think about that. And I think that technological platform has been a great means for me to to constantly balance that for a resilient learner.
Michael Feldstein 54:43
So I'm going to have to exercise just a little bit of control because we have five minutes left. I love this comment count the word resilience and and how you brought that in. I wish we had another 30 minutes to discuss this But I do, I want to wrap a few threads together and give you all a last chance to respond. So you know, what I'm, I'm reminded of a quote I'd like I'd like to share often from a raft coaster who's not an educator in the traditional sense, he designed Ultima Online, one of the first great online games, he wrote a great book called A theory theory of fun for game design. And basically, his theory was we talked about gameful learning, but really, we should be talking about learn for games, that people play games, when they're, when they're learning from them when they're challenging enough that they have to learn, but not so challenging enough and challenging that they get frustrated and give up. And a good game is one that teaches the gate player, everything that has to teach them before they stop playing. So there is a sort of control and setting up the rules of the game and then letting the players play. And I'd love to spend some time perhaps on another webinar digging into what that looks like. Because I think that's, there were some questions and comments earlier that indicates us, I think, would be a hot topic among the group. But what I like to get back to is where we started, which is resilience, just get final quick comments from each of you, which is, you know, that being being on zoom all day, all of the things going on our background, you know, they suck the energy from us. We know that we feel better, you know, more resilient when we have more of a sense of control. And I wonder if your various experiences with this kind of control that we're talking about setting up the rules of a game and then inviting the students to play has an impact that you've observed on your energy and on the energy of the students? Or Tronic. In your case, it would be instructors energy, you're and the energy of the students. Why don't we on my screen, I have Vicki, Jesse and Shawn, left to right. So why don't we go in that order for some quick final comments.
Vicky Crittenden 57:19
I can just say that, I feel like that I have become a more resilient educator, because because of the technology and the platforms that have enabled me to, to give up that control. And I feel, actually, and I have seen one of my students is on here, I feel very energized after I have engaged in a conversation with them, either for the Yellowdig platform, or even in the synchronous environment we met last night. Let's say it's supposed to be a one hour class, I believe it went to one hour and 15 minutes, I feel very energized in engaging with my students in this environment. I don't feel quite the exhaustion as when I walk out of the face to face classroom. Jeff,
Jess Ballenger 58:16
I'm really glad you brought up the book a theory of fun. By Koster, I think that's that is fantastic. We're we haven't used that I think we should use is playfulness. Like to me, energy comes, I really do think about designing my educational, you know, when I'm playing with my students, I try to think of it as I think a game designer would think of it, you know, you create a situation, and you let them loose in it. And it's such a joy. You know, it can even be about a, you know, a really difficult, weighty top topic. But when you see people playing along with it, we see people playing with that and really kind of stretching in that way. That's where my energy comes from. So so I'm glad you brought that up. And that finding that the ability to do that in whatever kind of environment I'm in that that is what education will always be about for me.
Michael Feldstein 59:16
Well, I would, before I pass it over to you, Schoeneck to give your last thoughts and close us out. I just want to say thank you to the panelists and the guests and to Yellowdig for what was a rejuvenating conversation, uh, gave me an hour in which I felt a little bit more resilient.
Jess Ballenger 59:38
Michael Feldstein 59:39
Shaunak Roy 59:40
home. Yeah, thank you so much. I mean, thanks, Vicki. Thanks, Jesse. Thanks, Michael. Great conversation. truly enjoyed it. I learn so much. All I would add to this is you know, you kind of nailed it, which is you know, what we also believe in which is learning needs to be fun. And energizing. You know one thing I'll say I have a 1212 Very old daughter, and I see her playing games. He's, you know, she plays games. And we have to put like lot of restrictions on her. And I see the energy, right when they are kind of trying to kind of, you know, fail, fail, fail, but eventually succeed and then get all this fun and get to the next level. Learning could be like that. And I think with this new paradigm, where we are trying to design learning, which is 24/7, right? It's not a synchronous, synchronous 24/7. And the instructor has any role in it. I think we can keep that as a kind of motivation to kind of design these experiences. That's what we are doing. And I'm glad that all of us are kind of speaking the same language. So thank you so much. Thanks again for joining this webinar. Thanks so much for everybody who had commented on the chat. We are going to review it if there have any questions we didn't get to we'll a team will definitely review and get back to you. So, again, so thank you. So we are going to conclude now
Jess Ballenger 1:00:56
that thanks so much.