Meet Our Ambassador: Kirstin Zeiser

Kirstin Zeiser is a student from the University of Alabama, major in Public Relations with a strong interest in the Spanish language and Spanish culture. Kirstin became a Curiosity Ambassador because she personally connected with Packback’s purpose: to be a life-long learner. Her view on education can be summarized with a quote from Casey Neistat, a popular filmmaker. He says “Experience does for the soul what education does for the mind.”

“My education here at The University of Alabama has been unparalleled, but it isn’t just the education that will set me up for success in my field. My experiences outside of the classroom have been just as valuable, if not even more.”

Kirstin’s sense of self is remarkably developed, and she already has a clear idea of where her degree is going to propel her. This, combined with Kirstin’s understanding of the value of a broad education, demonstrates that she has an open and accepting worldview.

Understanding her strong emphasis on education, we asked Kirstin what she thought about Packback; a brand new way to carry out discussion in her class. 

What are some of the most interesting things you have learned on Packback?

KZ: One of my favorite aspects of Packback is that it’s done more than just fuel my curiosity about the world; it has also caused me to be curious about myself. In my community, someone asked if the course I’m currently in has caused me to want to do research more or less. I’m so used to seeing more direct, clear-cut questions that this one caused me to think a little differently. I always viewed research as a tedious task that I didn’t want to do and I still feel that way. Instead of making me more interested in doing research, the class has shown me the necessity of research and that’s really helpful.

There have been plenty of “normal” questions or answers that have sparked my interest but that one stands out to me because it was such a different experience.

How has Packback challenged your critical thinking skills?

KZ: For starters, there’s no multiple choice on Packback and that forces students to think more in depth about the components of coursework. For me in particular, it has forced me to think more in depth about something I’d normally just write off as a “fact”. It forces me to ask WHY that’s a fact instead of just accepting that it is. In terms of compared to tests, I would say that having to think critically about a topic helps me commit it to memory so when it’s time to use the information in the “real world” I’ll have more than just what the textbook said in my mind.

How is Packback different than traditional online discussion boards?

KZ: My favorite thing about Packback is that there is no one direction that you have to take. In a traditional discussion board there is a given topic that you respond to. On Packback the discussion is limitless and that makes it much more stimulating. Usually students in my community ask questions about topics that relate to class, but every once in a while someone will ask something off the wall that they just randomly thought of.

I love that there is no limit to what you can be curious about and it’s not only acceptable but encouraged.

How do you feel about the cost and value you get from Packback Questions?

KZ: I understand the value that can be gained from a textbook but the cost of a textbook is unreasonable. If I’m being brutally honest I think it’s absurd that companies create an oligopoly on the textbook market and keep prices so high. In regard to Packback, I thought the price was reasonable. At first I wasn’t thrilled about it because I didn’t understand why we couldn’t just use a discussion board that was free but I can see the value now and I appreciate it. It’s nice to have weekly check-ins from someone on Packback and a place for open discussion.

Kirstin’s appreciation of the value of open discussion and all the benefits it can bring is just another sign of her mindfulness and curiosity, which is why she was selected to become a Packback Curiosity Ambassador to help spread awareness of the importance of critical thinking within the college classroom.

About the Packback Curiosity Ambassador Program

Packback Curiosity Ambassador program is a new program launched in October 2016 for students who loved using Packback in their class and who want to help bring the experience to other students. 

They play a key role in helping shape the future of curiosity-driven education by spreading awareness of Packback and the need for a tool that supports critical thought. Their experience is evidence that it is possible to create a dynamic community of student learners and that the depth of students’ curiosity has been long underestimated.

Packback Curiosity Ambassadors share their story of personal growth and the impact Packback has had on their education with other professors who would otherwise not yet have been familiar with Packback.

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