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Building an Online Community to Support Students Outside of the “Zoom Room”

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Dear Friends,

I hope you are well. Our thoughts go out to those being affected by the spread of COVID-19, please see this announcement I made last month about Yellowdig’s response to the pandemic.

Like many of you, we have spent the last 4 weeks trying to understand what this crisis means for Summer and Fall instruction. Many have referred to the last month as “Phase 1” of a larger evolution taking place, where maintaining Spring 2020 instruction from home at scale has taken the shape of Remote Learning, not true Online Learning…When surveying the current landscape in HigherEd, many universities are turning to the most readily available solutions they can find in order to suddenly move their courses online. In crisis-mode, many are turning to synchronous video tools, such as Zoom, to try to replicate the in-person class environment.

That said, we’ve all experienced what it’s like to be in a Zoom meeting with 10+ people… There’s hardly a chance for each person to speak and it’s really difficult to have an engaging conversation with that many students, instructor to student but especially student to student. Suddenly the experience that was meant to connect people now feels pretty isolating. If you’ve found yourself in this position after a month of “Zoom University”, you’re likely thinking the same thing that we are…how are we keeping tabs on our students so they’re engaged and feel supported during this time?

While administrators have been most concerned about taking the face-to-face class to the student’s living room during Phase 1, so much of a student’s experience occurs outside of the classroom. When surveying college students, Encoura Eduventures Research found that the experiences students believe they learn the most from are participation in clubs and activities and interactions with other students. So how are we building an online community that supports these interactions and activities? Yellowdig helps connect students outside of the classroom by providing them a place to host their asynchronous club “meetings,” discuss their favorite movies, be a college student.

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We know that your head is probably turning in a million directions as to how you’re going to plan for this summer and beyond. When looking at other community-building solutions, such as Microsoft Teams and Slack, Yellowdig is the only solution that is FERPA and WCAG 2.1 (accessibility) compliant. Yellowdig is the only solution that also puts you in control of your data- we do not sell your students’ data like other corporations do, it is completely private. Yellowdig LTI integrates into your LMS and portal so your students do not need to leave your main platform to access additional tools. In summary, we are an education company built from the ground up to help universities build asynchronous communities.

My team recently put together this Comparison Sheet below to help further convey these key differences between Yellowdig and the other asynchronous engagement solutions that you are likely considering as you look to fill engagement gaps for Summer and beyond…

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If you are interested in using our platform in new or expanded ways for your programs and courses, please reach out to us via learnmore@yellowdig.com and a member of our team will be in touch soon with appropriate next steps.

We’re all in this together.

Take Care,
Shaunak

Shaunak Roy is founder and CEO of Yellowdig, a digital platform for active, perpetual learning allowing collaborative and immersive learning to happen. Write to: shaunak@yellowdig.com.

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Digital platform for student-driven, active social learning. Proudly based in Philadelphia.

Digital platform for student-driven, active social learning. Proudly based in Philadelphia.

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