Interview with Jackie Wickham of Northwestern University
Jackie Wickham is the Instructional Technologist at Northwestern University and used Yellowdig to teach an online course on distance learning to faculty.
On her experiences with Yellowdig:
I am an instructional technologist at Northwestern, and so I teach a quarterly course for all new faculty in the School of Professional Studies, who will be teaching a fully online course for the first time in the upcoming quarter. The course focuses on getting comfortable with technology, setting expectations for students and facilitating student engagement. So, one of the things that we want faculty to feel comfortable doing is, not only using Canvas, but building onto Canvas and not feeling like they are limited to just interacting with the LMS.
So, to that end, we added a Yellowdig board to the course and it’s changed every quarter on how we tell faculty to interact with the Yellowdig board. I do use the same board from quarter to quarter so that faculty can benefit from past participants contributions. Last quarter, we required it for participation in the course. We had a really high level of participation. This quarter we made it optional because we’ve added other things to the course as well. But I’ve still seen a pretty high level of participation in the board, you know, people appear to like it.
We’ve just used it as an example of a tool that can be built onto Canvas, another way to engage with students, another way to engage with people in the current class and share things that might be helpful. We really want our faculty to take ownership of their teaching and I think Yellowdig gives them a really good format to do that because they can bring in resources that they find, rather than just a discussion board where they just say what they think. It kind of provides them with the opportunity to build their own collection of resources that they think would be helpful to them and other people in their teachings.
On teaching faculty:
I was looking at the board, prior to our conversation today and one thing that I noticed was that a lot of [the faculty] used Yellowdig to talk about Yellowdig. They went out and researched it more and I actually thought that was really great that it piqued their interest to the degree that they wanted to share information about [the company].
I’ve taught this course six times and this is the third or fourth time that I’ve incorporated Yellowdig into it. And the discussion participation has just been really slow this quarter, for whatever reason. So I was totally expecting the Yellowdig [board], which is an optional part this quarter, to not be used at all. But I think that there are almost as many comments on the Yellowdig [board] as there are on the regular discussion board, which is required. So that’s really interesting to me.
Northwestern loves Yellowdig:
We’ve had so many faculty who have said, “Move all my discussions to Yellowdig.” I mean, people really love it. They really want to figure out a way to incorporate it into their course, which is really fun because we have had faculty in the past who have not been [as] creative want to add it into their course. And so it kind of allows us to start a whole conversation with them about creative teaching and different teaching strategies.
There are several faculty on our campus using [Yellowdig] so we can always connect faculty with each other or answer questions about how people in the past have used it.
On popular posts:
I think that posts with a personal connection to the course or to a person [are popular]. I posted a link to my page on our blog and I think that got a lot of comments and some questions. I thought it was interesting because-- people-- instead of going to the blog and reading it and then emailing me the questions or commenting on the blog-- they came back and commented on Yellowdig about what I had posted.
It sparked a lot of engagement actually on Yellowdig. And I think just having that personal connection was one of the reasons that there was so much interaction with that post. The conversation is what’s really interesting and the feature where you have to add a certain number of words to the post to get the points really encourages students to add their own perspective and start that conversation, rather than just throwing the article up there.