What is it?
Yellowdig is an “online learning community” designed specifically for use in college classes. According to Yellowdig, before Yellowdig, professors had two options for virtual collaboration and discussion. They could use existing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter – which are social and familiar to today’s student, but aren’t specifically designed for academia. Or, they could use discussion platforms that are specifically designed for academia, such as a Blackboard or other LMS-integrated discussion board. But these are often clunky and forced, and lack the interactivity that students are used to encountering in social media.
This is the gap that Yellowdig was created to fill. It’s an intuitive, social media discussion platform designed specifically for the university environment.
How does it work?
Once logged in, you can create a Yellowdig board for your course. You can select it to be open to your university, or closed to a specific class. This board is essentially a virtual “pin” board that students can use to communicate. It’s like what you’d see on other social media sites, so students can comment on pins, add articles or other media of their own, or request the professor to add new boards.
Yellowdig also tracks student participation through points. This provides professors with an easy and objective way to grade student participation.
Yellowdig is integrated into a number of learning management systems (Blackboard, Canvas, etc.), so it’s easy for instructors to set it up so that the points students earn on Yellowdig are automatically entered into the LMS gradebook.
Yellowdig is also mobile friendly, so students can really use it like a social media platform, and check on it, discuss, and collaborate on their phones or tablets wherever they are.
Strengths, Limitations, and Applications
I think one of Yellowdig’s primary strengths is how it can easily be used to pair class discussion with real world applications. If students come across an article or video or something online that reminds them of what they’re learning about in class, they can simply pin it to Yellowdig for discussion. (Compare this with a common alternative: emailing the article to the professor, who then has to disseminate it to the class). This enables students themselves (not just instructors) to bring in real-world examples and really apply what they’re learning.
As far as a limitation- and this is a pretty significant limitation- as far as I can tell, you have to be associated with an institution that has a Yellowdig site license in order to use it in your course. Yellowdig is not at all transparent about how to create an account or pricing options, so I’m not even completely sure about that. It only gives you two options when you first get to the homepage – you can either “login” or “request a demo.” I “requested a demo” and received an email video demo and the contact information for the Yellowdig account manager for my university. It would be nice if Yellowdig had a demo course already built up that potential users could explore, without the commitment of specifically requesting a demo first. And, even more, it would be nice if Yellowdig had a basic account that people who are not associated with a Yellowdig university could still use it. Otherwise, the use of Yellowdig is limited to professors at universities with Yellowdig site licenses. For those professors, however, I would certainly recommend Yellowdig as a powerful discussion platform for both face-to-face and online courses.