# LTI Integration and What It Means for Using Yellowdig Grade Passback with Your Learning Management System

Yellowdig relies on Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standards to communicate with different learning management systems (LMSs). The power of LTI is that allows our technology to integrate with most LMSs. The downside is that we do not control these standards or how different LMSs use the information passed to them using those standards. As a result, we typically do provide help with the initial LMS setup but do not regularly provide support or recommendations for other aspects of using your LMS. Support for your LMS is usually available from your institution or directly through your LMS provider. This is not an attempt by us to "pass the buck"; rather, it is mostly because we have no ability to control what their technology does with the LTI standards, no ability to alter the functionality of their technology, and no way to predict the scope, timing, or impact of updates that they make.

However, it can be helpful for instructors and professors to understand some of the information Yellowdig sends to LMSs via LTI integration. Here we are explaining grade passback to help instructors and course designers to decide how to set up Yellowdig points and their gradebook in their LMS of choice. This information can also help in understanding why there may appear to be grade passback issues, which are often actually related to LMS settings or an artifact of decisions made for the Yellowdig point systems, rather than an actual issue with the information being communicated between the LMS and Yellowdig.

# Grade Passback Through LTI

**1.**

**Yellowdig grades are sent to your LMS as a**This is a change from Yellowdig Classic.

*proportion*of a student's Yellowdig points to date over the total Yellowdig points the student would need*up to that point in the course*to be on pace to reach the 100% participation goal.Say, for example, that a student is taking a ten-week course where the 100% participation target is 10,000 and the weekly max is 1,200. If, at the end of week 2, this student had 2,000 total points, Yellowdig would send back a proportion of 100% (2000/2000) to the student's LMS at the end of week 2. If this same student had 3,200 points at the end of week 3, Yellowdig would display a grade of 106.7% (3200/3000). Since the weekly max is 1,200, and since the student need only reach 1,000 points each week to reach the 100% participation goal, reaching the weekly max in week 3 would put this student

*ahead*of the requirement. However, because of the way LMS grade integration works, the student's LMS grade at week 3 would be capped at 100%. When the student's Yellowdig is passed back, it is multiplied by the points allotted to Yellowdig in the corresponding LMS gradebook column. For example, if 50 points were allotted to Yellowdig participation in this student's LMS, the student would have 50 points at the end of week 2*and*at the end of week 3. If, however, this student neglected to post or comment during week 4, the student would have a Yellowdig grade of 80% (3200/4000), and the student's LMS grade for Yellowdig would be 40 points (80% of 50 points).The following formulas are good points of reference for both instructors and students:

$$ \textbf{Yellowdig grade} = \frac{\text{your current point total}}{(\frac{\text{100% participation goal}}{\text{number of weeks in course}}) \times \text{number of weeks elapsed}} $$

$$ \textbf{LMS grade} = \text{Yellowdig grade} \times \text{LMS points allotted to Yellowdig} $$

Hence, in a ten-week course where the 100% participation target is 10,000 and the weekly max is 1,200, a student who had earned 3200 points at the end of week 4 would have the following Yellowdig grade:

$$ \textbf{80%} = \frac{3200}{(\frac{10000}{10}) \times 4} $$

If 50 points were allotted to Yellowdig in the student's LMS, the student would see the following point total in her LMS gradebook column:

$$ \textbf{40} = 80\% \times 50 $$

**2. A student's Yellowdig grade at a given time faithfully represents his or her**Students and instructors cannot infer their absolute progress from their LMS grade, but they can see their absolute progress at any time within Yellowdig.

*rate*of progress toward the 100% participation goal. It does*not*represent a students*absolute*progress toward the 100% participation goal.**3. Gradebook syncing occurs intermittently; LMS grades do not update in real time.**The most accurate accounting of Yellowdig points will always be the information seen in the Yellowdig platform.

# Why does it matter that grades are sent as a proportion?

**1. Aligning Point Systems is Not Necessary and Usually Not Recommended.**Because the grade is sent to your LMS as a proportion of the total points a student has earned, Yellowdig points are usually a different "currency" than your course points. It is not at all necessary that Yellowdig points be worth the same amount as your course points. And there are some reasons to actually avoid trying to align them.

First, Yellowdig is often used as only a part of the overall course grade, so the number of points that would be awarded in Yellowdig is typically very small when instructors align the point systems. To account for all of the ways students should be able to earn points in Yellowdig, and to make the size of those rewards appropriate in comparison to one another, it is helpful to have the flexibility that using a lot of points gets you. Use Yellowdig points to modify student behavior within the platform and to motivate them to participate in specific ways, but set the actual value of Yellowdig participation for your course by changing your LMS gradebook.

Second, rounding caused by the LMS calculation from Yellowdig's proportion score can sometimes cause minor score misalignments between the gradebook and Yellowdig. These are not actually errors, just artifacts of how the values are calculated versus displayed by the LMS. However, these rounding misalignments are more likely to happen, more likely to be detected, and more likely to be confusing when small numbers of points are used in Yellowdig and when the point system closely matches points given by the LMS gradebook for the course. Some instructors worry their students will be confused by differences in points between the LMS and Yellowdig if they use different point values, but matching them usually creates more concerns.

Given the above issues we actually usually recommend making the point differences between Yellowdig and your course

*more extreme*so that there is no way a student will mistake Yellowdig points for those earned within the rest of your course structure (e.g., multiply the default values for Yellowdig by 100 or 1000). Besides, it's always fun to get more points!**2. Extra Credit and 0 Point Assignments.**Another issue with LTI sending grades as proportions comes up when people want to set up extra credit assignments in the LMS gradebook. In some LMS systems, the primary way instructors give extra credit is to create an assignment worth 0 points and then enter grades that are higher than 0, making the grade add into the rest of a student's course grade numerator without contributing to the full course points denominator. The problem is that, if an assignment is worth 0 points in the LMS and the Yellowdig grade is being passed through as a proportion of the assignment points, any proportion multiplied by 0 shows up as 0 points. A 0 point assignment in most LMSs will make it look like the grade sync is not working, because it will populate the entire Yellowdig assignment with 0's.

If your grade sync does not appear to be working, ensure that Yellowdig has an associated point value in your LMS gradebook.