"A live pulse": Yik Yak for understanding teaching, learning and assessment at Edinburgh
Using Yik-Yak social media tool data to build an understanding of our students’ perspectives on learning, teaching and assessment.
Team Members: Sian Bayne, Bea Alex, Louise Connelly, Claire Grover, Nicola Osborne
Background: Yik Yak is a location-based social media app, launched in 2013, which has quickly become ubiquitously adopted by students on university and college campuses in the US and, increasingly, the UK. It allows users located within the same geographical area to create and respond to short, anonymous posts, and is emerging as an often-controversial space in which candid, dynamic and sometimes taboo issues are raised and discussed by young users. Yik Yak is widely used at Edinburgh: in early 2015 approximately 30% of undergraduates were active users and in 2016 the figure is likely to be higher: scoping work done by this project team shows approximately 100 original ‘yaks’ being posted in the George Square area every three hours. This same scoping work revealed that students use this platform to talk openly about many issues, including teaching, assessment and student support.
The gritty immediacy, anonymity and informality of comments posted on Yik Yak make it an ideal space in which to build an understanding of our students’ perspectives on learning, teaching and assessment.
Methodology: This project – working within the university’s agenda to prioritise teaching, and undertaken by a team spanning the three Colleges – will conduct mixed-methods research drawing on data generated in Yik Yak over academic year 2016-17.
Aims: In doing so, we aim to build a better understanding of the teaching, learning and assessment priorities and concerns of Edinburgh students, and to inform the university’s future planning for teaching innovation, assessment and support.
Final Project Report
Other Project Outcomes
Related Blogs written linked to Project:
- Project blog: http://yikyakresearch.blogs.edina.ac.uk/
- Osborne. July 2017: Addressing ethics of research in anonymous online spaces. http://yikyakresearch.blogs.edina.ac.uk/2017/07/13/addressing-ethics-of-research-in-anonymous-online-spaces/
- Rouhani. July 2017: The Quirks of dynamic social spaces – reflections from student research assistant Lilinaz Rouhani. http://yikyakresearch.blogs.edina.ac.uk/2017/07/14/view-from-our-student-research-associates/
- Bayne, 11 September 2017 : Digital sanctuary and anonymity on campus. https://wonkhe.com/blogs/digital-sanctuary-and-anonymity-on-campus/
Journal article :
Bayne, S., Connelly, L., Grover, C., Osborne, N., Tobin, R., Beswick, E. and Rouhani, L. (2019) The social value of anonymity on campus: a study of the decline of Yik Yak. Learning, Media and Technology. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2019.1583672