Interview with Karthik Kannan of Purdue
Professor Karthik Kannan is a professor for Management at Purdue University, with research interests in designing for instincts.
Why did you decide to experiment with social and collaborative learning in the classroom?
The biggest advantage we had in terms of using these sort of platforms is two-fold. For students it's a good opportunity to learn about stuff that they haven't seen in the classroom. And we can give them additional materials that they can go and learn from.
We've had some interesting discussions. Some of the students have even asked me to, based on the discussions that happened on the board, they would ask me to come back and discuss things with them. One of the examples I can give you is when we were discussing how automation is killing jobs and there was this concern about what we need to do. So there was a brief discussion about it in the classroom and then a follow-up with [the] discussion.
The second aspect is when you look at it from the faculty member side.
It's also good to see what other posts are happening in other places so I can keep track of what is going on. For example my friend in Wharton— what does he post on and there are some things that [are] directly relevant to me. So if a bit of filtering helps, it's more of a peer-to-peer filtering of information that we can carry forward into these offerings as well.
So the filtering is important— it's not just raw information but it's coming from a trusted provider of information and a community member?
So information is a big problem for us as well, not just with the students we are thinking of. I know that we don't have access to all the pieces of information. We may not be coming across all the pieces of information. Somehow when they [get] posted in these sort of places it gets that— it has the similar feel like a social network component and I can keep track of what is going on with the others and I can bring those ideas to the classroom as well. The biggest problem for us is to also— because I teach a technology class and technology keeps changing pretty significantly: What are the interesting examples that I can bring to the class? So that's the value—urgency.
What learning outcome were you hoping to achieve?
The main learning outcome [is that] we have first class contributions anyway, which are in place of the comments that they would do within the classroom. I also allowed for the students to gain participation [points if] they are participating in Yellowdig. The main reason is because of students that are going for interviews and other things. It's an important part of the program [and if] they might not be able to participate in the classroom, they may still be able to continually learn outside the classroom by consuming information relevant to the classroom. And they can bring value addition to the classroom by discussing these contents as well.
And so were there any specific insights or surprises that came out of your use of Yellowdig?
Some people had pet ideas that they would talk about so you could relate back—which angle they were coming in. And what you could do was tailor some of the class contents based on some of it.
I teach a class related to design for human instincts and loosely related to gamification as well. There was a discussion in the classroom briefly about gamification and you saw a couple of people just jumping about and talking about that and then the next day they had a couple of posts related to gamification and so we were able to see how it all tied in.
And so bringing that again and not just the content but also where they are coming from and then bringing that class content and bringing that content back into the classroom in a manner that's clear to the students was also another advantage and complimentary.