Packback Questions is a question-based discussion platform where you can ask the BIG questions about what you’re learning and what you still want to know. Packback exists to awaken the fearless curiosity in every student because we believe that great innovation is born out of great questions.
Questions to post in Packback Questions
Ask open-ended questions that can’t simply be Googled:
Make it open-ended: Ask questions that do not have a single accepted “right” answer. Ask questions that prompt your classmates to think about how what is being learned in class could be applied to solve real-world problems.
Make it specific: The more specific your question is, the better the responses will be. If you ask “How should a company market themselves?”, you’ll receive very general answers. Instead, try presenting a specific scenario like, “Imagine you run a 20-person family-run pizza shop in a suburb of Detroit that is just starting to introduce delivery. What are some unique marketing tactics that this company could use to make the launch of their delivery service successful?”
Make connections: Ask questions that make connections between two or more of your classes. This is called Combinatorial Thinking and this type of thought process has been cited as one of the biggest drivers of innovation; taking the knowledge from one industry and applying it to another industry in unexpected and revolutionary ways.
The best way to check if your question belongs on Packback is to ask yourself, “Would I be intrigued to read an answer to this question, even it if it wasn’t for class?”
You can also ask the following:
Thoughtful “Extra Help” questions that show work
Stuck on a concept from class? Post a thoughtful “extra help” question and show your work up to where you got stuck. Packback is not a place to just ask for an answer, it’s a place to get an explanation about WHY that is the answer.
Asking for responses to an article, video or passage
Share an interesting related source, along with why you found it interesting and ask an open-ended follow-up question about it! Sharing related resources is one of the best ways to inspire your classmates’ curiosity.
How to write a response on Packback Questions
Write the kind of response you’d like to read:
Treat each answer on Packback as a mini-essay
Your response should have a perspective or thesis of what you believe, called the Response Summary. In the main body of your answer, support that thesis with examples and real data points that help make your case and add context. Adding formatting and paragraph breaks helps with legibility and can also help you think about how to structure your response in a logical way. You should share your opinion, but always make sure to support your opinion with facts.
Expand on your idea until it is a fully explained
Write a minimum of one paragraph. Short answers are usually no more valuable than a quick Google search. Even if the question you’re responding to could lend itself to a short answer, try to push yourself to create an answer that adds value to our collective knowledge. Your response will inspire your classmates’ curiosity.
Add videos, images and sources to add context
Our Rich Text Editor allows the embedding of images, animated GIFs and videos right into your post. Try to include at least one video, image or source with your answer that helps to explain your perspective, make your response more interesting or provide an additional resource for extra exploration. Including sources and media also increases the likelihood that your answer will be read and Featured!
What NOT to post in Packback
If you see a question or answer that violates the Community Guidelines, please click the red “Flag” button so our moderators can remove it and keep your community healthy!
Questions that are phrased as a statement, not a question
- Example: “I thought that what we learned in class today was interesting.”
- How to do it better: Make sure your question is a real question and that it ends in a question mark.
- Example: “Is the sky blue?”
- How to do it better: Ask open-ended questions with many possible answers that create NEW insight or NEW value for the community.
- Try asking open-ended questions like “On another planet with a different atmospheric composition, what color might the sky be and why?”
Questions or answers that contain profanity or offensive language
- Example: If you wouldn’t say to your teacher’s face, please don’t post it in Packback!
- How to do it better: Use professional, approachable language and empathy to build connections.
Class-specific questions rather than concept focused
- Example: “What is on the test?” or “Is class canceled today?”
- How to do it better: Ask questions that would be relevant to anyone studying the same subject, even if they’re not in your class.
Questions or answers that have no relation to the subject of the class
- Example: Posting a question about movies in a geology class.
- How to do it better: Always connect your question back to the subject in some way, no matter how unique or diverse your idea is.
- You can still post about a movie in your geology class if it adds value to the discussion. For example, you could ask for examples of scientifically inaccurate geologic information in popular movies.
Duplicates of other questions or answers already posted
- Example: Knowingly posting a question or answer that has already been posted in your community.
- How to do it better: Think about the questions you are curious about; there are infinite possible questions, so there shouldn’t be a reason to repeat! And be sure to read your community so you know what else has been posted.
Questions or answers that are intended for cheating
- Example: Asking for an answer to a direct homework question, study guide question or test question without showing work.
- How to do it better: If you’re confused on a topic from class, you can use Packback as a way to get more explanation. Instead of asking the question from the homework or study guide, ask the question that best summarizes exactly what you are confused about.
How to ask an Open-Ended Question:
Open-ended questions don’t necessarily have a single correct answer. They are questions that make you consider several possibilities and make you capable of creating answers instead of just reciting them. Packback moderators remove closed-ended questions because they distract from the true vision we see come to life when students begin to ask outstanding, thought-provoking questions.
If you think your question or answer might not lead to a deep discussion, here are some helpful tips:
- Avoid definition questions or “what’s the difference between ___ and ___ blank?”. That is simply memorization, not critical thinking!
- Think one step beyond the question. Always try to continue the conversation by asking a follow-up question, giving an opinion or sharing a great resource.
- Focus on the “how” and “why” of what you’re learning in class and not the “what.” “What” is a great foundation for understanding, but we all learn the most when we start asking “why.”
- Don’t forget that any closed-ended question can be reworded and reworked to become an awesome open-ended question.
Here is an example of how to take a closed-ended question and make it open-ended:
Closed-ended = Are GMO’s good or bad?
Why: This question is closed-ended because someone could answer it with a one-word answer. It doesn’t ask for any more depth and doesn’t push the answerer to explain their thought process.
Open-ended = What do you think the most interesting applications of genetically modified crops are? What are some potential risks?
Why: This question is open-ended because it asks for examples of interesting applications and asks the user to detail what risks might be. It cannot be answered with a single word.
The Packback Community Mindset
Be Kind: Be mindful of your communication and the impact of your words.
Be Curious: When ideas or questions pop into your mind, share them with the community!
Be Fearless: Do not be afraid to look like you care. Don’t be afraid to look silly. Think big! You have nothing to lose.
Be Creative: Combine! Create! Add Constraints! Get a little crazy! Read this post by James Altucher about how to become an idea machine.
Be Open: When your classmates share an opposing view, be open! There is value to be found in every interaction.
Want to see a live Packback community and learn how you can increase student engagement and critical thinking in your course?