The Packback Blog

Recent Articles

Packback Webinar: Using Technology to Improve Critical Thinking and Engagement

Packback CEO Mike Shannon was joined by Dr. Kathleen West of UNC Charlotte and Dr. Kaston Anderson-Carpenter of Michigan State University. These two psychology professors shared how they’re using technology and positive reinforcement to improve students’ critical thinking skills, engagement and written communication.

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Case Study: Inspiring Students with Online Discussion

Case study describing how Packback helped students understand the importance of class concepts, build connections and improve their writing on exams in Dr. West’s Psychology Class.

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Case Study: Engaging Students with Technology

Case Study of how one professor at Michigan State University utilized technology in the classroom to increase student engagement, promote critical thinking and improve student exam grades. 

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Case Study: Using Packback In Large Lectures

Case study that describes how Dr. Stephanie Tikkanen utilized Packback to bring online discussion into her large, 300+ student course. In the process, she found herself more connected to her students as well.

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The Value of Discussion

As enrollment and class size increase, professors face more challenges in keeping students engaged. According to a study from the University of Sussex, students in large lectures become passive recipients of information because the fast-paced environment doesn’t give them an opportunity to actively engage with course content. Whether classes are in-person or online, professors are challenged with finding ways to empower students to take ownership over their own learning and relate course material to their lives.

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Building Connections in Large Lectures

It is no secret that class sizes in public and private institutions across the country are growing. In fact, teaching a large lecture or non-traditional classroom is often required to advance along a tenure-track or to earn a promotion. And the rapidly changing classroom structure isn’t slowing down. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, between 2000 and 2016, undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions increased by 28 percent (from 13.2 million to 16.9 million students). Increasing class sizes bring challenges to educators, such as lower student engagement, an increased grading burden, more questions from students and often teaching methods which worked in smaller classes don’t scale to a larger class.

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Creating An Active Learning Environment in College Classrooms

College enrollment for the 2018 fall academic term in the United States is expected to hit more than 20 million students according to a report from Statista. The rapid enrollment growth is putting a burden directly on professors to innovate in overcrowded lecture halls and meet the needs of Gen Z students.

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Implementing Technology in College Classrooms

When Dr. Kaston Anderson-Carpenter steps in front of his psychology class at Michigan State University, he sees 175 students interacting with laptops, tablets and smartphones in a carefully constructed academic environment. His courses are filled with Gen Z students; a digital generation of non-traditional students who rely on technology to do research, access their textbooks, complete their homework and communicate with their peers and professors.

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Time Management Tips for Professors

Finding and managing time as a professor is overwhelming. For many professors, clocking a 60-hour week is the norm and finding where to cut back can be tricky. Facilitating classes, mentoring students, conducting research and professional development activities are just the beginning; and when midterms or finals come around, any established routine doesn’t last. Suddenly, on top of a packed calendar, there’s a constant stream of student emails asking for clarifications and extended deadlines, colleagues seeking advice and required staff meetings; all while trying to make sure grades for hundreds of students are accurate and submitted on time.

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