Planning for an Uncertain Fall Term? Packback Can Help

While uncertainty around the upcoming Fall 2021 semester is abundant, Packback is one point of certainty when planning for classes because of how adaptable and reliable the platform’s results are in a range of mediums, disciplines, and course sizes.

Many instructors in Spring 2021 are still unsure of what exactly the fall semester will look like for them, from class size to online versus in-person. If you’re an instructor who is unsure what class sizes you’ll be teaching, whether you’ll be teaching face-to-face or online, or even if you’re unsure which exact courses you will be teaching… Packback can help bring some certainty to your planning. Packback’s inquiry-driven discussion brings equal value to online and face-to-face courses, small classes and large classes, and a wide range of disciplines.

1. Not sure if you’re teaching online or face-to-face courses?

Instructor teaching in a live setting, mirrored in a video call

Packback has been used with equal efficacy as a supplement to face-to-face classes and a tool for discussion in online courses.

Because of the asynchronous nature of Packback’s discussion, the experience of using Packback for discussion drives deeper student reflection on the material and a deeper understanding of course material in both face-to-face and online classes.

In fact, most classes using Packback prior to 2020 were face-to-face courses! Over 300,000 students in the US and Canada have used Packback as a core part of their face-to-face courses.

3 tips for designing activities that translate well to face-to-face or online courses

In May 2020, Dr. Adam Fein and Dr. Jose Vazquez came together to share 3 key tips for designing resilient, “remote-ready” syllabi.

Tip 1: Ask yourself, “Will I be able to use this if I go back to teaching face-to-face (or online)?”

Finding a tool for discussion that translates regardless of teaching medium is essential. If a discussion tool feels limited to either online or face-to-face instruction, it’s likely to leave students feeling restricted as well. Medium agnostic teaching solutions create fluidity and consistency in the classroom.

Tip 2: Find tools that make feedback easy in both face-to-face and online courses

The high level of feedback required for successful online courses can also be a major benefit to face-to-face courses. Packback provides tools for instructors to give their own feedback comments to students, alongside AI-based instant feedback to help coach students on question quality, grammar and convention, and more.

Tip 3: Find tools that encourage deep asynchronous engagement with course content.

Whether online or face-to-face, students only get to be in their synchronous class setting for a few hours a week. By taking advantage of the benefits of asynchronous discussion, wholly different interactions can take place that are not possible synchronously. For example, students on Packback cited outside sources in their posts 44% of the time in a study from UNT.

💻 Are you currently unsure of whether you will be teaching face-to-face or online courses in the fall? Schedule a session with a Packback consultant to discuss how Packback can help.

2. Not sure how many students you’ll be teaching?

Masked instructor teaching to a class of greyed-out students with question marks on their faces.

Professors on Packback teach classes that range from less than 20 students to over well 2,000 students. Regardless of class size, Packback’s features make it possible to scale effective discussion and facilitate different levels of instructor interaction.

We’ve included three instructor stories from very different course sizes below to show how Packback scales seamlessly from small to very large courses. Intentional automation coupled with powerful instructor hands-on feedback tools makes this adaptability possible.

Big class or small, Packback supports them all.

35 students

Dr. Phylis Ellet

“I found [Packback] really effective in getting everyone involved in the conversation.”

Read her Case Study

263 students

Dr. Heather Kearns

“I found [Packback] really effective in getting everyone involved in the conversation.”

Read her Case Study

1,200 students

Dr. Carolyn Massiah

“Packback keeps my students very engaged not just with me, not just with the material, but with each other.”

Watch her Webinar

3. Not sure what courses you’ll be teaching?

Illustration of an instructor looking thoughtful

Even if you’re not sure which exact you’ll be teaching, Packback is subject-matter agnostic and used in courses ranging from college credit high school courses through graduate programs.

Packback’s inquiry-driven discussion is currently being used in over 70 different disciplines, including:

  1. Business and Management (872 courses)
  2. Biology (792 courses)
  3. Psychology (667 courses)
  4. English (492 courses)
  5. Economics (472 courses)
  6. Accounting (253 courses)  

Our “New Normal” Can include the Best of Both Worlds

“It might feel like we have lost so much shifting all our learning online, but I choose to focus on what we have gained by reconsidering our approach and being open to new ways of engaging students. Packback has allowed students in my course to share their stories and perspectives in order to ask questions they care about. It has transformed learning not just for them, but for me as well.”

Professor Kerri Pope, Humanities, Austin Community College

Even in times of uncertainty, Packback has been proven to improve discussion rigor in any discipline and increase overall student engagement rates. Whether you’re unsure about going remote or teaching in person, how many students you’ll be teaching, or even which courses you’ll be teaching, Packback will provide the right instructional support to give you peace of mind and confidence that your educational tool will support you and your students.



Request a Demo of the Packback Questions Platform

Curious to learn more? One of our friendly strategy consultants will be excited to meet you and discuss your course learning objectives. We will provide a free consultation to see if Packback would be a good fit for your class!

Request a Packback Demo