Social Learning with Shaunak Roy

Shaunak Roy

Joining me for this Deep Dive with SME episode is Shaunak Roy.

Shaunak is the Founder and CEO of a learning platform called Yellowdig which engages hundreds and thousands of students around the world using an approach that they call Gameful Learning. It’s kind of like a cross between social learning or collaborative learning and gamified learning.

Although as you’ll hear in our conversation, it is nothing like the sort of icky associations that come with the word gamified, there’s actually a lot of intentionality built into the point scoring and game elements of the system. Shaunak’s platform has resulted in a 200% increase in learner engagement. They think pretty deeply about engaging learning, and have tons of great resources on their website, which showed me that they are truly passionate about social learning.

In our conversation:

  • We explore why we need a platform for social learning.
  • Why existing platforms like Slack and Teams, which I know many of you use to encourage collaborative learning, aren’t fully delivering on deep needs and why a tool like Yellowdig is necessary.
  • The role of intrinsic motivation and how to get learners from consuming learning content to being active on the social platform; where they are encouraged through agency, mastery and connectedness to take ownership of the platform and to use it as a place for them to learn in an encouraging environment – an environment that feels risk free and safe to make mistakes and experiment.
  • The point system, which is the gamified elements of their platform that encourages engagement. We learn how important it is at the very beginning when you’re setting up a community and how it becomes less and less important once certain key behaviors have been adopted, and the community begins to sustain itself.
  • Questions around issues that I know I’ve seen with clients – things like:
    • What role does management input have in the community?
    • Do you make the community required or not?
    • How do you group people in different cohorts?
    • Can you gait content? And should you gait content?
    • How do you create best practices that have been seen to create a sense of community?

I’m sure you’ll find a lot of really good advice and practical tips from this episode. Please sit back and enjoy my conversation with Shaunak Roy.

Full Episode

Guest Links

Show Notes

  • What is Social Learning? (00:05:00-00:06:40)
  • The early beginnings: why Shaunak started Yellowdig and how the company grew over the years. (00:06:41-00:12:49)
  • The role of intrinsic motivation and how to get learners from passive consumption, to active participation on the social platform through agency, mastery and connectedness. (00:12:50-00:15:47)
  • You can’t win if you don’t play. We discuss how simply participating brings out mastery and growth. (00:15:49-00:17:24)
  • What is the role of connectedness? (00:17:25-00:20:30)
  • What role does management input have in the community? (00:20:31-00:22:57)
  • Tips and tricks on how to bridge asynchronous and synchronous content and learning. (00:22:58-00:24:40)
  • Should a community be required? (00:24:41-00:26:24)
  • Why is Yellowdig a necessary platform for learning and engagement? (00:26:25-00:32:20)
  • How to think about grouping people in different cohorts. (00:32:21-00:34:58)
  • Creating the best practices to build a sense of community. (00:34:59-00:40:05)
  • What are the benefits and opportunities Yellowdig has brought to learners, instructors, and funders? (00:40:06-00:43:32)
  • Where you can find and get in touch with Shaunak on social media. (00:43:54-00:45:15)

Selected Links from the Episode


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~ This episode is brought to you by The Learning Culture Experience~

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