How to update your course curriculum to include Packback

How to add Packback to your course design and curriculum effectively 

Education technology is only as effective as the implementation pedagogy used to bring that edTech tool into the classroom experience. Packback provides a software platform, support team, and an intentional implementation pedagogy to ensure that every course that adopts Packback experiences consistently excellent discussion results.

1. Know your "Why" for using Packback, and share it with your students

Why do you value discussion? What do you hope students will gain?

Whether your goals relate to building inquiry skills, practicing written communication skills, improving knowledge retention, or even just making your class fun and relevant for your students...make sure your students know why you are using Packback.

Explaining your "why" and illustrating to students how the experience of using Packback for discussion will contribute to their learning or skills development is critical for establishing "relevancy", a core component of an intrinsically motivating learning environment.

2. Choose the right grading structure and requirements

Based on our research evaluating the discussion performance across classes using Packback (containing nearly half a million students), we have found commonalities in the posting requirements and implementation approaches in the most successful courses:

  • A single weekly recurring deadline
    • Note that on Packback, there is a single continuous discussion community for the duration of the course. With questions contributed by each student continuously, there is never a shortage of questions available for students to answer. This allows instructors to use a single deadline for all posts, rather than a deadline for questions that differs
  • 7-15% of overall course grade allocated to participation on Packback
    • Allocating a meaningful grade percentage ensures your students sign up, prioritize engaging each week in the discussion, and have the best experience by guaranteeing that their classmates also prioritize the assignment. Many instructors reallocate points from a different in-class participation expectation (most common) or asynchronous engagement assignment or adjust the allocation to all other assignments down by a few percentage points to make "room" to include Packback.
  • Post requirements of "Ask 1 Question" and "Add 2 Responses" per deadline
    • This simple and easy-to-remember requirement ensures that students are constructing their own open-ended question each week about course material, and this process of inquiry formation has been shown to be a critical component of effective online communities and improve learning efficacy.  A requirement of two responses per week to peer questions also ensures that students are receiving engagement on their questions from their classmates.

Many instructors also choose to incorporate Packback's Curiosity Score into their grading structure, though this requirement is optional in the process of setting up your grades on Packback. 

How to Incorporate the Curiosity Score into Grading

The Curiosity Score is a score given by the Packback Digital TA that measures the quality of student questions and answers on Packback. Every post earns a point score out of 100 based on its Curiosity (question structure and the amount of effort a student puts in, such as length), Credibility (citing high-quality sources), and Communication (effective use of formatting, paragraph breaks, reading level, and use of rich media like images/video).

We recommend that professors set a minimum Curiosity Score of 40, ensuring that students are completing a baseline level of work in order to receive credit. Higher-level courses can choose to increase the minimum curiosity score based on guidelines built into the platform. Learn more about the Curiosity Score in this article.

3. Communicate requirements clearly to students

  • Set up your grading requirements in Packback: In Packback, you will be able to select your grading structure and deadlines in the Community Setup Process and have the platform auto-score student participation against your set requirements.
    • To learn how to set up automated grading reports in Packback, visit this article.

  • Add Packback to your syllabus: All instructors should add Packback (and the details of the assignment requirements) to their course syllabus before class begins.
    • Packback provides an auto-customized Syllabus Statement in the Community Setup Process that can be downloaded to make it easier to add Packback to your syllabus.

 

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