Aug. 6, 2022, A Note from Pat Cassella, Executive Director: USDLA is as strong as it is because of our powerful partners and sponsors who not only support us financially but provide insight and education to our members about exciting developments in the distance learning industry.
Today it’s a pleasure to give a shout-out to Yellowdig — a community-driven active learning platform adopted by more than 130 colleges and universities, K12 schools, and corporate training clients. Its mission is to transform every classroom into an active social and experiential learning community. Learn all about it at yellowdig.co.
Please scroll down for our Q&A with the company’s founder and CEO, Shaunak Roy. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from IIT Bombay and completed his graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before founding Yellowdig, Shaunak spent a decade advising global companies on technology strategy and growth.
Best wishes from myself and the USDLA Board of Directors — Pat, email@example.com
USDLA: Tell us about Yellowdig. What inspired you to create it? What need did you see being unfulfilled in the industry?
Shaunak: Yellowdig is on a mission to transform classrooms through organic student-led learning communities. Yellowdig is not a bolt-on or a tool but a learning platform that powers better learning and high-impact instruction while saving valuable faculty time. It does this by moving students from receivers of knowledge to finders and creators of knowledge and providing a modern learning experience. This shift leads to a deeper level of student and faculty engagement, better academic outcomes, and better student retention outcomes. The platform can be easily integrated within your existing learning environments with 1-click access for your students. The platform enables real-time attendance tracking learning analytics for instructors and administrators and supports your compliance requirements.
USDLA: What Inspired you to create Yellowdig?
Shaunak: I grew up in a modest financial background in India. If you know South Asian culture, a good education is not a choice but almost a must-have for most families. I did what I had to go get a great education. I was fortunate to go to some of the best universities in the world. Although I’m curious and enjoy learning, sitting in classrooms was sometimes quite painful. The courses I enjoyed the most were where the teacher involved me in discussions, ideations sharing learning by doing, etc. In those learning environments, I learned as much from my talented peers as I did from the professors.
USDLA: You went to college in the 2000s when active learning was time-consuming to implement.
Shaunak: That’s right. My professors could only interact with you when you were in the classroom. But now technology is everywhere, and social media is around the clock. Our mission is to use the best of technology to turn every classroom into an active learning community irrespective of the topic mode of delivery or age group a community-driven active learning environment.
USDLA: You and your team identified that students are not building relationships and connections in their learning environments. And you came up with a great solution!
Shaunak: Yes. Too often, learning has looked like a solo endeavor, even when there are elements like discussion boards where instructors assign students to “Post once and comment twice” because they are writing mini-essays to their instructor, not conversing. Real connections to peers and instructors are vital to student success and retention.
USDLA: What have been your biggest challenges?
Shaunak: The first product we launched when I was an excited new entrepreneur did not get the engagement we expected. At first, I thought I failed, but then we realized that is a common problem that platforms struggle with, and that led to the development of our patented point system, which is the key to our engagement now. The only failures are those you don’t find a way to learn and grow from.
USDLA: What are your biggest wins?
Shaunak: Big wins include seeing our clients succeed. We love when our clients report successful gains in student grades and favorable instructor reviews in part due to Yellowdig retention and student persistence gains and overall successful programs.
USDLA: Who is your ideal client?
Shaunak: We love working with innovative institutions that are excited to embrace new pedagogy and track results of their new changes. We enjoy working with clients who see the value in a connected learning experience from admission to graduation. We’ve enjoyed working with USDLA to meet wonderful people at their conference and through hosting webinars together.
USDLA: What does the future look like for Yellowdig?
Shaunak: It looks connected! We will continue to work with our partners to create a connected learning experience for their learners. We continue to grow yearly and are working to create a movement around Education 3.0: Connecting the Learning Experience. Join us!
USDLA: Thank you so much for your time today, Shaunak! Best of luck with your organization. We look forward to sharing more about your success with our members.
About Yellowdig: In 2014, Yellowdig’s CEO and founder Shaunak Roy knew he wanted to start a company that mattered. As Facebook and other social media technologies took over the social connectivity scene, he saw an opportunity to leverage this idea of social sharing through technology, specifically in sharing academic ideas and knowledge. As Shaunak looked back on his academic days (he went to undergrad at IIT Bombay and postgrad at MIT), he realized that he learned as much from his peers as he did from his brilliant professors. Some of the bonds he created with his peers lasted well beyond those formative years and morphed into lifelong friendships. Click here to learn why online learning communities drive deeper learning, energize faculty and increase retention: Yellowdig.co.