By Shantanu Sharma, Vice President of Engineering at Yellowdig
Yellowdig is a private network for collaboration targeted towards education institutions to increase student engagement. In this day and age, as more and more information is digitized, textbooks are no longer the only source for learning. Yellowdig seeks to engage students using a broad array of resources including videos, news articles, blogs and more. The beauty of Yellowdig is in its simplicity. It offers a Facebook-like experience (a platform the majority of students are very familiar with), for ease of use. This platform allows students to quickly and easily turn their classroom into a collaborative learning community. With Yellowdig, learning is not limited to classroom hours. Students can learn from each other, anytime, anywhere and from any device.
Yellowdig forms a social layer on top of existing systems. It is seamlessly integrated with the Learning Management System (LMS) but it is not limited to it. Yellowdig can also be integrated to Single Sign On (SSO) infrastructure to expand use cases from the classroom to alumni directories, knowledge portals or professional clubs.
Yellowdig helps to build a moderated social learning community inside and outside the classroom where students bring in their own interests, ideas and passion to build meaningful collaborative bonds with one another.
The Yellowdig platform has several components. These include boards, pins, comments, likes, and tags. A board is topic based collaboration platform. Each class or group that students are a part of will have a board. These discussion boards can be open or closed depending on what its used for. Closed boards are invitation only, such as a class board only accessible to registered students. To join a closed board, the board owner (usually the instructor) needs to either invite the student to the board or have the student join from the LMS course page. Open boards are open to the entire university network. The board owner can change the board status from Closed to Open and vice versa.
Pinning: Sharing Information on Yellowdig
When students come across an article or video that's pertinent to a particular board, they can share it with their classmates and professor by pinning the article to the class board on Yellowdig. Student can directly take a video or picture from phone and post it to a board. Once a pin is created, fellow course students can comment, like, or mark the pin as not relevant for the topic under discussion.
When students come across an interesting article or video that's pertinent to a particular course board, they can share it with their classmates. Relevant imagery and a brief summary of the article is automatically created by Yellowdig.
Students can also tag people in their posts by typing @classmates-name in their pin. Yellowdig enables one-click sharing from phones so students can directly take a video or picture and post it straight to their course boards. Once students have created a pin, classmates can comment, like, or mark the pin as not relevant for the specific course.
A University's Own Private Network
Every College or University that uses Yellowdig has its own private network. All data on that network is completely owned by the university and is solely intended for its own students. Yellowdig is hosted using the Amazon Web Services. All data transfers happen using secure, encrypted channels (SSL and SSH only).
Universities have private networks on Yellowdig. Users can join the private network of the university they belong to via two methods:
- Join via www.yellowdig.com by verifying their university email address
- Join via University applications (e.g. LMS systems) that interoperate via the LTI standard
The university private network comprises of two types of boards: “Open to University” and “Invite Only” boards as explained in the following section.
The Merits of Closed and Open Boards
Only professors and course’s teaching assistants can create boards. They have the option of creating either a closed or open board. Closed boards are invitation only, such as a class board only accessible to registered students. Students can identify a closed board by the lock symbol in the upper right corner of the board.
To join a closed the board owner needs to either invite a student to the board or have the student join from the LMS course page. Open boards, on the other hand, are open to the private university network. Open university boards can be used to post school-wide announcements and events. The board owner can change the board status from Closed to Open and Vice Versa at any time.
The posts are owned by the person who posted on Yellowdig. If the user posts a YouTube link on Yellowdig, Yellowdig only maintains a link to the YouTube video on the platform without storing the video. Users have the right to delete or edit their posts any time. The board owners have the right to delete any posts on the boards they own. For Example, Northwestern has Northwestern Dig, UPenn has Penndig, etc.
An Overview of Yellowdig Course Topics
Topics are basically topics that are pertinent to a class or a board. Students can view all the topics on their Yellowdig feed and search articles by topic by clicking on a tag students are interested in.