Yellowdig is a discussion platform that connects learners and empowers educators. Yellowdig boards create a private network where learning communities can be established, allowing discussion and sharing to foster the relationships, skills, and knowledge that allow people to thrive.

Collaborative interactions with professors and peers are an increasingly valuable part of the learning experience. Yellowdig provides an easy means for learners and other users to communicate and collaborate about class content and share a broad array of timely and relevant learning resources from the wider world (e.g., videos, news articles, blogs and more).

Yellowdig uses conventions from social media, which the majority of learners are very familiar with and enjoy. This simple design, combined with gamification and the feedback that the platform provides, helps students and instructors quickly and easily build collaborative learning communities. 

NIU is now offering Yellowdig as a Blackboard integration, allowing faculty and staff to create Yellowdig discussion communities in their Blackboard Courses and Organizations. See below for the guidance creating and configuring a new Yellowdig community in your Blackboard Original or Ultra Course, tips for a successful Yellowdig experience, and links to Yellowdig's extensive support materials.

Create a Yellowdig Community in your Blackboard Course

Preparing a Yellowdig Community for use in your Blackboard Course involves three steps, setting up access to a new Community in a course, configuring the Community itself, including the Yellowdig point scheme and topic tags, and then setting up grade passback between Blackboard and Yellowdig.

Create a Yellowdig Community in a Blackboard Original Course

  1. Login to Blackboard, select Courses, and open the Blackboard Original Course in which you want to create a Yellowdig Community
  2. Navigate to the content area of your course Blackboard where you want students to access Yellowdig.  Students will use a single Yellowdig link to access the community throughout the semester, the link can be placed in any content area in the course (e.g. Course Unit folder, Course Content folder).  
  3. From the Build Content Menu, choose Yellowdig Engage.
  4. Title your access link (e.g. Yellowdig Community, Yellowdig Discussion, or Yellowdig).
  5. Click the link to access and configure your Yellowdig Community.

Create a Yellowdig Community in a Blackboard Ultra Course

  1. Login to Blackboard, select Courses, and open the Blackboard Ultra Course in which you want to create a Yellowdig Community
  2. Navigate to the content area/folder of your course Blackboard where you want students to access Yellowdig.  Students will use a single Yellowdig link to access the community throughout the semester, the link can be placed in any content area in the course (e.g. the main Course Content area or any subfolder).  The link cannot be created in the left navigation or the top right tool navigation.  There is also no way to hide the top right Blackboard discussion tool or replace it with Yellowdig.
  3. Choose the ⊕Create button and choose Content Market, then click the symbol at the bottom right of the Yellowdig tool pane.  If this step takes you directly to Yellowdig, close the window and be sure to select the  symbol.  The window should close and display your Yellowdig access link.
  4. If you would like to change the text of the link or add a description, use the ellipsis (...) menu at the right side of the new Yellowdig link and choose Edit. Click Save after making your changes. 

Configuring your Yellowdig Community

The Yellowdig Community configuration process is covered in great detail in Yellowdig's Blackboard Course Setup Guide. The list below will summarize the key steps and highlight a couple of important points to consider.  These instructions are the same for Blackboard Original and Ultra courses.

  1. In your Blackboard course, click your Yellowdig link. The very first time you and your students use Yellowdig, you will be prompted to modify your username and create a password. Users do not need to remember this password, Blackboard will handle the authentication after this first access.
  2. Once you save your user information, you will see the New Community page. In the Community Organization field, select Northern Illinois University.
  3. If desired, you may retitle the community (this title displays at the top of the community when students are inside of it). Leave all other settings at their default and click Submit.
  4. You should now see your community main page. Click the Continue button in the pop-up to walk through the rest of your community set up. If you close this box, you can click one of the topics in the Setup Your Community module to the right or the "finish your setup" link in the yellow banner at the top to continue configuring your community.
  5. Set the dates during which students will earn points. The day of the week of the End Date determines which day of the week (and time) the weekly Yellowdig points will start over at 0. Click Continue.
  6. Add Topics that students can select to tag their posts. Requiring students to add Topic tags is highly recommend because it can help to encourages students to discuss issues related to your course and content. In the dropdown, select Topics are required. Click the Continue button.
  7. Review the videos for a crash course on community best practices or click the link to access Yellowdig's free certification modules, then click the Continue button.
  8. Review the video that introduces students to your Yellowdig community and click the Done button.
Your Community is set up with default point settings that you can modify. To access these, click Settings in the menu to the left and then click Point System. Click the button to view the Additional Point Settings and then Edit next to Participation Expectation. Change the drop down menu from Network Default to Custom to be able to change these settings. 
  • Periodic Target1000 point default
  • Periodic Buffer: 30% default, allows students to earn extra points which they can "bank" to supplement future weeks in which they may fall short of the periodic target. 
  • Earning Rules: 150 points for original posts of at least 40 words, 80 points for comments on others' posts of at least 20 words, 55 points for receiving a comment on their original post, 30 points for receiving a reaction to their original post. You can also enable points for posts or comments that don't reach the word length goal or for adding videos to posts or comments. 

Passing Grades from Yellowdig to Blackboard

Students will automatically earn points in your Yellowdig community based on the guidelines that you have configured. You can connect Yellowdig and Blackboard so that the students' grade is automatically passed back to Blackboard and appears in the Gradebook. Note that you can only have a single graded item in Blackboard for your Yellowdig community, so students will see this grade rise each week as they meet the week's point goal and then drop on the day that your Yellowdig points rolls over. This behavior is normal but can be confusing to students.

  1. Once you have configured your community (see above), you can create your Yellowdig assignment link. If you are not in your community, click the Yellowdig link in your Blackboard course to access your community.
  2. In the left-hand menu, click to expand the Management section.
  3. Click the LMS Assignment Link option in the menu.
  4. On the next page, type a Label in the field. This will be the name of the item in your Blackboard Gradebook.
  5. Type a value in the Score Maximum field. This should match the points assigned to participation in the Yellowdig community in your course grading scheme. If you are weighting grades, we recommend using 100 for the Score Maximum, as then the score is easily comparable with the percent of the total weekly points that the student has earned to-date.
  6. Click the Submit button.

Connecting One Yellowdig Community to Two Courses

One of the great aspects of Yellowdig is how easy it is to connect students from multiple courses through a single Yellowdig community.

  1. Create and configure a Yellowdig community in one of your courses in Blackboard by following the instructions above for either Original or Ultra Course View.
  2. Go to the other course in Blackboard.
  3. Create a link to Yellowdig in the second course, again following the steps above.
  4. Click the link you just created to launch Yellowdig.
  5. Under the New Community heading, you should see Want to link this LTI launch to an existing community? Click here.
  6. Click the Click here link.
  7. Click the blank box under Community to link and choose the community you created for the first course.
  8. Click Submit.

Now, the links in both courses will direct students to the same Yellowdig community.

Tips for a Successful Yellowdig Community

  • Introduce Yellowdig to students in a synchronous session and/or by sharing the Yellowdig Student Introduction Video. Let them know that you will be learning how to use this platform with them and are happy to hear their feedback and suggestions.
  • Be active! Your role in a Yellowdig community is no longer that of a grader. Participate in your community, reward students by responding to their posts, reacting to their posts, and even awarding accolades.
  • Provide weekly guidance (rather the directives) for what students can or should discuss each week. While there is only one Yellowdig access link, you can create Blackboard items or announcements that provide guiding questions, discussion ideas, and challenges.
  • Be open to community discussions that are not tied tightly to your course content. Consider allowing your students to use some of their time in the community for supporting each other, sharing experiences, and getting to know each other (you know, building community!).
  • Encourage students to monitor their own participation by reviewing their current Yellowdig points and the point scheme in the dashboard link at the top left of the community, under the community name.

Frequently Asked Questions

When I click on the Yellowdig link in my Blackboard course, I get a message that says "You are not logged in. Click here to login, or click on the tabs below for more troubleshooting tips."

This error is most commonly caused by a browser or browser setting that blocks "third-party cookies." Like many Blackboard integrations, Yellowdig uses browser cookies to connect your Blackboard account to your Yellowdig account. By default, Safari blocks third-party cookies, and most browsers have a setting that can be used to block them. To access Yellowdig, you need to either choose a browser that does not block third-party cookies by default (e.g. Chrome) or configure your browser to allow them. See this Yellowdig support article for details on how to allow third-party cookies in most popular browsers.

I've configured my Yellowdig points and my Blackboard points for the semester total. Why do my students have all or most of the semester total already?

Yellowdig communicates a running semester percentage to Blackboard every four hours.  When Blackboard receives this percentage, it applies that percentage to the semester total you indicated in your Yellowdig link setup. 

For example, if Yellowdig discussion is worth 40 points for the semester, after week 1, if students have met their Yellowdig point target (e.g. 1000 Yd points), you and the student will see a 40 in the Blackboard gradebook.  If a student thereafter fell short of their Yellowdig target, their semester Yellowdig percentage would decrease as would the calculated points in the Blackboard gradebook.

Can I include more than one Yellowdig link in my course?

One philosophical difference between a Yellowdig discussion community and a more traditional discussion board is that a Yellowdig board is really meant to be a continuous discussion platform without artificial weekly structure.  Students should be encouraged to continue engage in conversation that span weeks, topics, and purposes.  Having a single Yellowdig discussion community link in your course in some ways reinforces this concept.  

However, there are also reasons you may want multiple access points to your community.  For example, you may have a strong modular structure in your course in which you provide a clear, consistent set of instructions and links for weekly activities.  In such an approach, it may be desirable to have a Yellowdig discussion community link in each module. 

If you decide to create multiple links, you must NOT create more than one graded Yellowdig link.  Your first Yellowdig discussion community link should be be configured to Enable Evaluation [Original] or  Create a gradebook item [Ultra]. Subsequent links should NOT use these options.  Links without these options will not create grade columns and will therefore simply provide additional access points to the community, while the single graded link communicates the discussion grade to the Blackboard gradebook.

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