Mason Estevez is a junior at the University of Alabama majoring in Economics and Journalism. His family background in small business made him realize that no matter what field he decides to pursue, he wants to work in a close-knit team and make a tangible impact. In his free time, Mason enjoys cooking because it’s when his deepest thinking happens.
My deepest thinking always happens when I’m cooking. I don’t know if it’s because a spatula feels like a microphone in my hand, but I always end up making a speech to an imaginary audience to defend whatever opinions I have about current events. Sometimes I lose those imaginary arguments. The upside is that there’s always food at the end.
Since he first joined Packback, Mason has consistently portrayed his critical and curious mind through his questions and responses. The combination of the two majors helps him develop an analytical mindset and the ability to communicate clearly, concisely and accurately and Packback is the perfect outlet for him to practice his skills.
That’s why Mason became a Curiosity Ambassador to be a part of bringing in a new and useful learning method to the University of Alabama and he wants to share his view on Packback.
What are some of the most interesting things you have learned on Packback?
ME: The most interesting thing that I’ve learned on Packback so far comes from the question and answers about how technology has changed the way we view other cultures. The last answer mentions Indian funeral practices, something I had never thought to learn about. I am in all business and journalism classes, very far from the anthropology department. But I was able to encounter that idea and widen my world view.
How has Packback challenged your critical thinking skills?
ME: In a traditional class you read a book, watch a movie, go to play, etc. Then when you’re done, you go back home and write a paper from a structured format, with a specific rubric and for a knowledgeable audience. It’s like a Lego set that comes with all the pieces and detailed instructions.
Packback is more like a bag full of unsorted bricks. It’s up to you to dump them out, find the ones you want, put them together and then convince people that what you made really does look like the Sears Tower. Packback makes you think about what you want to say instead of giving you a pre-made path to success.
Instead of mindlessly writing to fulfill the requirements set by an instructor, you get to set your own requirements and then see if they make any sense. And it’s fun to see what you can make on your own.
How is Packback different than traditional class materials or online discussion boards?
ME: Compared to books, Packback is comparatively cheap, and I’ll retain more from it than I would have from the book. Judging by the size of classes, Packback Questions has potential to be a big bang for a small buck in any class.
Compared to other online discussion platform, Packback is better. First off, the format is easier to use and appealing to the eye as a user. It’s organized in such a way that reading through it is neither a slog nor is it confusing. Second, it provides coaching on what to put in or consider when you’re writing. That’s a feature that actively encourages students to get better at what they’re doing. Third, the entire premise of the platform is to foster curiosity in an accessible way. It’s tailor-made to get students interested and engaged.
If he can give any advice to college professors, Mason would tell professors to help their students realize what is out there for them. A lot of students in college don’t have a solid plan and think their major ties them to a certain destiny. Get them curious about what is beyond the classroom door, and remind them to get in touch with people they can work for and add value to.
Hi goal is to introduce Packback to more professors and help improve the students’ learning experience at University of Alabama. He thinks professors want their students to be arrested by a personal desire to broaden their own horizons and Packback is a cost-effective, easy to manage, and fun to use platform that does just that.
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.
Want to see a live Packback community and learn how you can increase student engagement and critical thinking in your course?