Introducing Packback: a new student discussion portal with AI-mediated coaching & quality assessment

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Introducing Packback: a new student discussion portal with AI-mediated coaching & quality assessment

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Author :
Natalie Vandepol

What is Packback?

Packback is an online discussion forum tool is designed to motivate students to explore and investigate the assigned topic, encouraging genuine curiosity and engagement. Students receive live AI-based coaching on writing quality, topic relevance, content originality, and inclusion of citations in their discussion forum posts. Their performance in each of these areas are combined into a single “Curiosity Score” provided to the instructor. Altogether, this increases the detail of feedback the student receives while still alleviating the hands-on time required of the instructor.

How it works & where it excels.

  • The Curiosity Score is meant to reflect student effort and is calculated based on the Legibility, Endedness, and Credibility of the student’s post. Students can still submit a post flagged by the AI as having a low Curiosity Score. If a flagged post is submitted, a human coach will review the post and provide private feedback to the student, who can then revise their post any number of times until the deadline set by the instructor.
  • Students are actively encouraged to develop (and respond to) open-ended questions that prompt discussion, relate course material to the “real world”, and may not have one “right” answer.
  • Packback intercepts closed-ended, off-topic, plagiarized, and poorly written posts, increasing the value of each post to the overall discussion forum. This allows instructors to spend their time assessing the content of discussion posts and answers, as opposed to the students’ writing. The assessment criteria considered by the Packbak AI can be customized by the instructor, including number of posts in each time period, minimum Curiosity Score for each post, and the discussion topic.  
  • Packback’s AI suggests posts with particularly high scores for you to feature and promote in your class, giving students examples to emulate and learn from the feedback given to the featured posts.
  • Large courses utilize Packback to improve student performance and utility of assessment feedback. Courses can be broken into smaller groups by creating self-selected sub-sections.
  • Small courses use Packback as a platform for centralizing peer discussion and communication as students to deep-dive into a given topic.

Packback limitations.

  • The AI assessment can feel like a “black box” to instructors since a single, comprehensive Curiosity Score is given to each post. Scores can be modified manually in cases where the instructor disagrees with the assigned score.
  • The Packback-D2L Integration is effectively a direct link to the Packback community for your course, as opposed to embedding the Packback experience directly into your D2L course.
  • Grades are not included in the Packback D2L integration. Packback’s Curiosity Scores are not sent to the D2L course gradebook, scores must be downloaded from Packback and uploaded to the D2L gradebook.

Where to learn more. 

Posted by:
Natalie Vandepol #iteachmsu
#forum #discussion #packback