Ah, the dreaded discussion board posts–post once and reply to two of your classmates. I felt anxious about posting in the courses I took just as much, I’m sure, as our students do in theirs. Sometimes once the discussion gets going, it’s easier, but not having a lot of choice in what to write about can create a lot of “stuck” moments for students.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Packback is a tool that might alleviate some of the challenges with traditional discussions.

As an instructor, I used Packback in a literature course. I required students to ask one question per week that related to the content we were studying. For the first few weeks, I gave them a bulleted list of topics they could possibly be curious about. I encouraged them to ask open-ended questions and gave examples of what that meant. In Packback, students respond to questions from their classmates and are then awarded “curiosity points” for the “curiosity, credibility, communication, and convention” of their posts. Students can “spark” a post that made them think. And, Packback is now using AI to coach students as they write, giving feedback on grammar, word count, repetitiveness, flow, research quality, and formatting.

Weekly, I would receive an email from Packback that contained snippets of the high scoring posts that might be “featured” by me. Students can see posts that have this special designation and look to those posts to emulate and/or learn from. I could also “praise” a student’s post or send them private coaching on how to improve their posts. Packback assigned a grade to each discussion based on parameters I set, and I certainly could change the grade if I wished.

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

This tool may not solve all of the challenges you and your students have with that dreaded discussion post, but it can freshen up the discussions. Interested in trying it out? Reach out to the CTLE for some assistance. And then let us know how it goes!

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