Interview with Philippos Savvides of Arizona State University
Professor Philippos Savvides is the manager of online learning at Arizona State University and Professor of Enterprise Strategy and Innovation. Professor Savvides also practiced Capoeira for nine years.
On the grading system for the course:
So strictly talking about my class, we had a discussion board where students would respond to a prompt and be graded based on a rubric and the grade was based on the content of the response. We used Yellowdig to have a student-driven conversation on the topics that were covered throughout the week. So again, I didn’t restrict the topics. I just said post something related to what we are doing this week on the Yellowdig board and we let the students drive the conversation there. The grades were [administered] throughout the term except for one week during midterms, they had a big project that was due, so I didn’t require them to post articles.
On the Yellowdig point system:
I used the default Yellowdig point system. The only thing I would change is that I will put weekly restrictions on the points [that] students can get because a few of them with got the maximum amount of points they could earn. Some of them did not stop sharing but a few of them stopped. So next time I’m going to have some restrictions on the amount of points people can earn each week. The only thing that I gave points for where if you have a pin where the description is more than 40 words, then you get a certain amount of points. It’s the same thing with comments.
On the purpose of Yellowdig in his course:
It was pretty much the students sharing catered content related to the course and having conversations around that. I would use some of the articles they shared to supplement some of the [course] materials.
On the excitement created by virtual discussions:
The amount of points that the students were supposed to get from Yellowdig was very minimal. It was only 1.7% of their total grade because this was my first time teaching and using it. I didn’t put a lot of weight on it.
But for the amount of points that we allocated for Yellowdig, there was certainly a lot of activity from the students and it was all completely driven by them. A [portion of] 1.7% of the total grade is not significant if they didn’t do the activity, right?
So the amount of activity that went into this was disproportional to the amount of points needed to affect their total grade. So there is something to be said about that, because we had so much activity. Something drove the students to participate.
On courses he will teach in the future:
I’m going to add more incentives on the amount of points students can use [in order] to get even more engagement there. So twenty out of fifty [students] went above the total points they could earn [this semester].
What would the ideal educational discussion board look like?
Maybe making a pin stay on top of the stream. Say an instructor would like to start a conversation about a specific topic but they would like to make sure that the specific pin is viewed by everyone and not lost in the stream somehow. That would be helpful.