Student Perspective: How Packback Questions Measures up to Other Discussion Platforms

Student Jenna Baker shares her experience with Packback Questions.

An essential feature of the Packback Questions platform is its interactive nature.

One main purpose of having students write discussion posts or ask questions is so they can grow and learn from one another in addition to classroom learning. Although this may be the common use of a discussion platform, many standard formats and website layouts do not actually provide a learning environment that is as conducive to that growth.

I am currently enrolled in an online anatomy course in which we are required to post a discussion board once every unit. We use the Blackboard platform for this course. Considering this course is online, the way in which we communicate on this discussion board is the ONLY method of communication and interaction that students have with one another. However, the format in which Blackboard has their discussion board does not really provide much room for student interaction.

Below is a screenshot of a post that I wrote for my last unit.

Similarly, the formatting for viewing posts is not encouraging or effective in engaging students to read their peers posts.

With Packback, on the other hand, the platform provides constructive information and guidance to encourage great questions while you post and also push towards better responses.

For example, the “Ingredients of Great Questions” section always reminded me to make sure there was value to the question I was asking. The 255 character limit has taught me to be wise with my word choice – clear and concise. Then, I was able to add in more detail, images, videos and formatting options to further support my question.

Rather than feeling like a textbook assignment, Packback is designed like a social media page for learning.

I could scroll through several posts and read a concise line or two regarding my peers’ learning interests and concerns per topic.

Another reason that I appreciate Packback’s platform as opposed tothe Blackboard platform is the Featured Posts tab. I always felt that discussion boards were pointless because students could be giving wrong information, too much information, not enough support, etc.

Packback essentially monitors good and bad answers with Packback Moderators. Posts that are not of the proper quality are removed which makes it much more comforting to know that I am not reading poor quality posts.

Also, specifically reading the Featured Posts tab allows me to see what the professor deemed as the best posts. This shows me that the professor is interacting with us as well and that they have approved of things that were written, thus showing they are accurate and worth reading. On Blackboard, we receive our score for the post and the professor or teaching assistant will occasionally comment on what we posted once they grade us. However, only the student can see that comment. Thus, no one else learns from this feedback or ever truly understands which posts are most accurate or important.

Another distinguishing Packback feature is the Learner Leaderboard. This list ranks the top contributors for each class and shows who asks/answers the most [quality] questions. When I notice that a student from the top portion of this ranking answers my question, I feel comfortable knowing they frequently answer several other questions well and usually get their posts featured. Thus, I like knowing my answers come from good sources.

Furthermore, Packback always reminds and strongly suggests that we cite our information for readers to confirm and trace back. This also helps validate all the information present.

These unique features on the Packback Questions platform make the learning experience more interesting and worthwhile.
“Together, these features make Packback a much more interactive and successful discussion platform that achieves the true goal of the discussion boards since inception: communication and lifelong learning.

Written by Jenna Baker

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