This edtech founder is on a mission to make classroom learning more joyful, active, and engaging.
INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero
He’s on a mission to make classroom learning more joyful, active, and engaging. He’s impacted over half a million students’ lives already, and he’s just warming up: Shaunak Roy is the founder and CEO of Yellowdig, a community-driven active learning platform adopted by over 130 colleges and universities, K-12 schools, and corporate training clients. Yellowdig’s mission is to transform every classroom into an active, social, and experiential learning community. Shaunak graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from IIT Bombay and completed his graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to founding Yellowdig, he spent a decade advising global companies on technology, strategy, and growth.
What led you into learning and tech?
Growing up, I wasn’t the typical “first-bencher” in school; I was the inquisitive tinkerer, crafting handmade gifts for my sister. Despite not conforming to traditional learning norms, I fell in love with learning’s adventurous and curious nature. This passion propelled me to excel at institutions like the Indian Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. However, it was the joy of learning that truly steered me toward creating Yellowdig—an endeavor to make inquiry-driven learning accessible at scale, rekindling the spark in learners regardless of age or background.
‘…an endeavor to make inquiry-driven learning accessible at scale, rekindling the spark in learners regardless of age or background.’
What highlights from your background inform your current approach with yellowdig?
Our approach at Yellowdig is far from conventional. We’re not about replicating the norm; we’re about reimagining possibilities. By gamifying learning communities, we empower learners to co-create knowledge. It’s a strategy that benefits both instructors and learners. Instructors don’t need to overhaul their syllabi; they simply integrate Yellowdig for boosted participation and engagement. The platform thrives on discussions, real-world examples, debates, and AI-guided nudges, enhancing engagement and making learning an enjoyable journey.
Your pedagogical principles include agency, mastery and connectedness
Our pedagogical principles—agency, mastery, and connectedness—are more than buzzwords; they’re the foundation of a powerful learning environment. These principles are rooted in Self-Determination Theory, leveraging autonomy, competence, and relatedness to foster intrinsic motivation. Our blog “A Look into Gameful Learning” delves into these concepts and their impact.
What highlights have you had with yellowdig over the past few years you’d like to share with our readers now?
One of the most gratifying aspects has been the warm embrace of over 150 colleges and universities in our journey. Their enthusiasm has driven Yellowdig’s evolution, contributing fresh feature ideas and functionalities. Amidst the current challenges in higher education, this grassroots movement is a beacon of hope, spearheaded by innovators who dare to reimagine a better future for students. Our Yellowdig Education 3.0 conference, with 25+ client institutions presenting, attests to this momentum.
What are your thoughts on the state of learning and technology today?
The next decade promises exciting prospects for learning technologies, with online and hybrid courses witnessing significant growth. Yet, awareness needs a balanced lens—modern approaches rooted in research, not merely tech trends. The intersection of transformative technologies with research-backed practices defines what we call Education 3.0. While AI and AR/VR create a buzz, the heart of effective education lies in well-designed learning experiences.
Any advice to startup founders out there, especially in education?
In education, the “grow at all costs” mantra doesn’t hold water. Patience, passion, and understanding complex problems are key. Edtech requires a unique blend of perseverance and societal impact. Passion fuels the initial phases, and tenacity sees you through. As you grow, the satisfaction of making a profound societal impact becomes the ultimate reward—arguably the best job anyone could ask for.
Victor Rivero is the Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: email@example.com