#1: Use accolades judiciously
Accolades are awards for outstanding contributions. When a student receives an accolade for a post or comment, they receive a point bonus (depending on your point settings and on the student's proximity to the periodic max). While accolades can help drive engagement and "gamify" the Community, accolades must be used judiciously to positively impact your Community. Accolades should not be used in the following ways:
To assign a "grade" to every single post or comment.
To indicate that a post or comment satisfies a minimal academic standard.
To reward users for vaguely defined "good work".
On the contrary, we urge instructors to use Accolades as follows:
To recognize and reward truly outstanding contributions. When everyone gets a trophy, trophies lose their meaning. The same goes for accolades. As a general rule, you should give accolades to no more than 10% of Posts and Comments. To motivate behavior changes, accolades should be experienced as intermittent rewards. They should be attainable but rare.
- To reward specific contributions to the Community. Accolades aren't just shorthand for "good job". Rather, accolades should reward contributions that help the Community in specific and diverse ways. Some contributions illuminate a problem or solution; some contributions get others talking; and some contributions help others achieve insights or experience "eureka moments". The best contributions are often the most Socratic; they help others "see the light" for themselves. Our default accolades were written to target specific contributions to the Community, but you can create or edit accolades as you see fit.
Why? When used correctly, Accolades are a powerful motivational tool. They incentivize high-quality content, make learners feel appreciated, and set good examples for other learners to follow. But just as grades cease to motivate when everyone gets an "A", so Accolades cease to motivate when everyone gets accolades for every post they write. And just as grading criteria should be clear to students, accolade criteria should be clear to learners. We strongly encourage you to reward learners for promoting specific kinds of conversational goods and to reserve accolades for exemplary contributions.
#2: Be the model for your learning community
The best Yellowdig instructors model the kind of posting and commenting behavior they want to see. Instructors should aim to reach the 100% participation goal by the end of the Community, and they should engage in a mix of posting, commenting, and reacting behaviors.
Do I have to? If this sounds onerous, consider the alternative! Maintaining a traditional discussion board requires writing prompts and meticulously grading students' responses. Wouldn’t you rather read a few posts and comments, give out a few reactions and accolades, and participate in your Community as an equal member?
#3: Introduce yourself
An easy way to kickstart the Yellowdig experience is to create an introduction post where instructors tell their learners a few things about themselves using the "Introduce Yourself" topic. Instructors can attach a photo and write a paragraph, or they can record a video self-introduction from within the Yellowdig platform. Instructors can ask learners to do the same in addition to reacting to and commenting on others' introduction posts.
Why? This will expose new Community Members to topics as well as three of the main functions of Yellowdig (posting, commenting, and reacting) in a low-stakes manner.
#4: Gamify your participation
If you think your Community could use an extra "jolt", we recommend making up some additional "games" to build and maintain excitement. You could, for example, make a deal with your learners: Tell them that if half of the class has more than a certain number of posts by the end of the week, you will waive an assignment due after an upcoming holiday. Or let them know that if every student comments at least twice in a given week, you’ll share an embarrassing picture of yourself from middle school. Then make a "big reveal" in class, letting them know whether the class met these challenges. Within the Community Health dashboard and topic analysis sections, you can quickly monitor whether your students have met the challenges you issue.
Why? Yellowdig has a number of functions and tools in place to automatically build motivation, but a lot of these tools and other functions can be used creatively by instructors to easily take their motivation to the next level.