Resources for Instructors:
Integrating Packback into your Course

We’ve prepared the following guide as a step-by-step manual for how to integrate Packback into your course in a way that will lead to predictably effective results. These recommendations are based on the feedback and actual results from hundreds of past instructors who have used the Packback platform, after reviewing their student feedback, course discussion quality, consistency of student posting, and more.

Set Up an Effective Packback Grading Structure

We recommend a grading structure that is as simple as possible, to ensure students remain focused on engaging thoughtfully in the discussion (and not trying to carefully calculate their points!).

Packback’s gradebook calculates activity by date range, so you do not need to worry about trying to adjust grades for specific modules or topics. We built our date-based gradebook to encourage grading structures that focus on building a question-asking habit in students through incentivizing the consistent action of making weekly posts (rather than a rigid or punitive grading system focused on the content of the posts).

How to set up your grading structure

1. Determine Grade Allocation

We recommend: 15-20% of the final grade allocated to Packback, with no less than 10%.

Why: This ensures that a critical mass of students in your class sign up and participate in the discussion consistently, to ensure a valuable experience for all students. By making Packback a key component of the final grade, students take the assignment seriously.

2. Select Weekly Deadline

We recommend: At least one deadline per week, at the same date and time.

Why: Frequent deadlines help students build a habit of asking questions and engaging in the discussion. This habit keeps the discussion relevant throughout the term and helps ensure students do not wait until the end of the term to post.

3. Set Weekly Requirements

We recommend: Requiring students to Ask 1 Question and Respond to 2 questions per week.

Why: In reviewing the satisfaction of all Packback courses, a primary predictor of student satisfaction was a ratio of responses to questions of at least 2 to 1. Requiring students to ask one question and answer two questions ensures a positive ratio of responses to questions.

Engage Impactfully with your Course Discussion Weekly

Every week throughout the semester, we recommend the following actions. In total, these actions should take no more than 15 minutes per week but are incredibly impactful to improve the student experience and provide a feedback loop to your students about their discussion on Packback.

Engage your class discussion with the following two actions weekly

Feature 2 to 3 exemplary posts per week

Why: Featured posts are sent to your students each week in the “Curious Reader Digest”. By selecting posts to Feature, you are selecting the examples sent to your class which help them build pattern recognition for your definition of a great post.

“Give Feedback” on 1 or more Featured post per week

Why: Our Give Feedback feature allows you to leave public Praise feedback on any post. By leaving Praise feedback on Featured posts, your Praise will be visible to all your students – allowing your comment to make a meaningful impact on your whole class.

Reinforce Purpose and Curiosity for the Subject Matter

Packback’s purpose is to use discussion as a medium to help students apply what they are learning in class and engage with the material in a deep and meaningful way. Delivering on that purpose, fully, depends on the instructor’s feedback and reinforcement.

We recommend one core tactic for how instructors can reinforce the purpose of Packback and drive curiosity for the subject matter; using a discussion from the Packback platform to spark an in-class Socratic-style Discussion.

Host a weekly in-class discussion based on a Packback discussion thread of your choice

What we recommend: Host a weekly in-class discussion, using a Packback thread of your choice as a starting point. If you have a particular topic you’d like to highlight in class that day, use the “search” feature in your community to find a suitable example discussion thread to use. By highlighting a real student discussion from Packback, you can praise the individual student posters and encourage student autonomy and ownership over their learning process, while still hosting a discussion in class on a relevant topic!

Monitor your community for trends in what your students are discussing to discover areas of interest or confusion

What we recommend: Packback can be a critically helpful tool for better understanding what your class is thinking. Instructors can use Packback to look for trends in what your students are discussing, you can easily respond to students interests and needs in your synchronous course meetings, addressing areas of confusion or spending a little extra time on areas of interest. Instructors have even borrowed questions from their discussion to use as essay prompts, project prompts, or exam questions.

Want to learn how to tailor your course plan to achieve specific course objectives such as peer learning, student engagement and life application of course content?