Yammer network division between staff and students

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We are struggling to implement yammer in our organisation (school) due to a requirement we can't find a solution for. Any suggestion on how to address it would be very much appreciated!

We have 1.500 staff/faculty and 15.000 students and one O365 tenant. Staff is currently using Yammer, students aren't licensed and don't have access. We now want to provide yammer to our students but they should not get access to all our existing open groups from staff.

Any ideas on how to implement this?

5 Replies

One idea is to set up a Yammer External Network for your students to use.


Source: Me, because I run two external networks for our customers and clients.


The set-up part:

The gear icon next to your name in the bottom left of Yammer will show you if you have the +Create a New Network option.


Otherwise, your network admin should be able to get into their Yammer settings->Network->External Network and see what's enabled.


Why an External Network?

External Networks (EN) are really neat because although your "home" network is the parent network, people on your EN cannot click back into your home network unless they have the same email domain as all of your staff, or you whitelist their email for some reason.


Whereas your staff will be able to flow easily back and forth between networks using that same gear icon.


So all of your home network content should remain private, while you can choose to populate your EN with whatever materials you want students to see.


Additionally, you can set up your EN with almost all the same features as your home network: Create groups, have a usage policy, etc. 


And unlike the home network (because you're on O365), you can also upload a customized banner! ENs aren't affected by O365 at this time.


How to get people ON it

After you've got things set up to where you want it, now you need people in it! Give your students the URL to the EN and tell them to sign up. There are various fun ways to do this; I should post some on a separate thread, now that I think about it, but we've done:


  • Targeted emails with awesomely enticing language about how beneficial this community will be
  • Postcards
  • Website announcements
  • Word of mouth
  • Signage and sign-ups at conferences and the like


Now, you will have to manually approve everyone wanting to join your EN, so it's best if you have a couple community managers set up with verified admin access so they can help out. These notifications will be emailed to you or you will find them in the Pending Requests area that is also on the gear icon.


Security and/or massive influx

If you are concerned about the URL falling into the wrong hands, or anticipate a huge influx of registrations, there are third-party vendors who can set up an auto-approval system that you can have behind a password-gate on your own website. Let me know if you'd like more information about that.


Give them a reason

As with any community, you will still have to come up with a couple use-case reasons for why students should join this online network among all the other online things they are undoubtedly part of. 


With our customer base, it's important that they (and their bosses) realize that their EN is intended to be an extension of their training: They can get tips, strategies, and insights to challenging questions, and help out others with their concerns, so that everyone can deliver the most meaningful and relevant programs possible. 


We also bill it as a "professional development" or "professional learning" network and do not let a whiff of "social media!" or "Just like Facebook!" get through. Not only would that squash a lot of participation what with the stigma of social media, but--people already have pretty much all the "social media" that they need. Yammer is something different. 


So I just dumped a lot of information on you. Let me know if you have any questions!


This is exellent!  Read the question and was about to answer External Network when I saw this reply...  Very good.


Please, if you have any trouble setting up this external network or have further questions about it, don't hesitate to ask for help.  Sounds like an exciting project. 

This does not sound practical. Schools need to control access during enrollment and revoke it after students leave and with 15K students that means they need single sign on and provisioning. And if they use Office 365 for other services this really needs to be consistent from a support perspective. An external network won't work if the students need to be added using their school address and are not licensed for Yammer. And if they are licensed they get access to the Home network.

Adding thousands of students (with thousands leaving and arriving every single year so it is not a one time task) to an external network using personal addresses would be an immense amount of work to track and manage and it would be pretty manual. And if you have single sign on to other Office 365 services the first question the students will ask is why Yammer has a different username and password from everything else.

I have seen several models in education.

* No student access
* Everyone in one home network with most staff groups closed (we use this)
* The home network used for all community wide groups and then staff/faculty off in external networks with a more restricted membership. Students might actually have additional external networks as well.

My opinion is that the original poster needs to engage in a campaign to close off the existing staff groups and promote a very liberal culture of adding people to groups as needed.

Thank you all for the elaborate replies! Unfortunately it confirmed the limitations we are struggling with.


An external network is not an option because students will get automatically acces to the home network as well.

We could start moving the groups in the current home network to an external network, only accessible to staff but I'm pretty sure it will die within a few months. Staff will remain in the home network and (re)create private groups.


I don't think (right now for our organisation) it is a viable option to have an open network accessible for both students and staff. All groups will go private over night leaving no room for sharing or discovering knowledge across courses or departments.

Hey Bart! We had a similar problem when we were expanding Yammer beyond our corporate office to our restaurant employees who did not have company email, etc. We created a separate network for them and had to negotiate the price since they weren't really full users. A bit of a compromise, but it worked ok. As another user mentioned, you'll need to be sure of what your provisioning process looks like (we did manual adds/deletes weekly, which was appropriate for our turnover). If you think this might work for you, happy to go into more detail.