(Feed → Pinning, Commenting, Upvoting, and Giving Badges)
Yellowdig facilitates better learning communities. Expected behaviors within communities are typically modeled by more experienced members and adopted by junior members as they become part of that community. Instructors that have been most successful usually have a few “obvious” ground rules (e.g., no cursing, no making fun of others), and then they use Yellowdig to model the kinds of Pin and Comment behavior they want to see. We typically recommend that instructors have a few Pins ready to share throughout the first couple of weeks and that they plan to spend just a few minutes each week interacting with students by commenting, upvoting, awarding badges, etc.
Why? Interacting in your community, especially early on, makes a huge difference in learners using the platform. We share some ways here that Yellowdig can help you save some time and this is one spot where you should “re-invest” a fraction of that time in your learners. The bottom line is that learners who use Yellowdig rate their courses and instructors more positively, but both learners and instructors report even better experiences when instructors participate. It even helps a lot to just write a few quick Comments or pass out some Upvotes and Badges while you have just a little bit of downtime (e.g., while waiting for a departmental meeting to actually start or for that colleague that constantly runs late).
If this sounds onerous, consider the alternative! Using a classic style of discussion board requires that you spend time formulating questions in hope of getting a discussion started. That effort almost inevitably fails at creating or sustaining a real discussion because of the format and reward structure. Then instructors have to sit down and meticulously grade responses to be able provide feedback. And the longer that grading takes, the more detailed the learners expect it to be. Wouldn’t you rather just read some Pins and Comments and give out Upvotes and Badges on the ones that do a good job of contributing to a real discussion?