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Packback is a social learning discussion platform designed to flip the traditional, instructor-led discussion, so students ask the questions. This platform’s interface is based on a social media feed, with a scrolling discussion forum, upvoting (called Sparks), and space for students to engage with their peers and their instructor. Instructors can publicly praise good posts, highlight important insights, and even send out a weekly feature emphasizing exceptional student posts or responses. For students who need more constructive feedback, there are options to provide private coaching, where more personal comments or critiques can be given. An important feature of Packback is their AI coach, which checks student posts and gives feedback on post content before students submit, allowing them time to revise as they write to meet minimum requirements. Using the AI coach can help eliminate some of the grading process for instructors, as it uses a “curiosity score” to measure items like complexity, how much students are engaging with outside events and materials, and moderates for issues like explicit language, plagiarism, and question types. This streamlines the discussion process and gives instructors the opportunity to give more meaningful feedback and connect on a deeper level with student posts. 

Website: https://www.packback.co/   

Packback is an online discussion tool with an AI component that can be used to emphasize student inquiry and streamline class discussions. Here are some ways to use Packback in your course: 

  • Build online community by encouraging or requiring students to engage with their peers by responding to student-generated questions.  
  • Develop critical thinking skills by putting the onus on the student to develop good questions for their peers to respond to. 
  • Give feedback and push students to revise as they work by receiving instant feedback from the AI coach and direct feedback or public praise from their instructor 
  • Model good discussion posts by pinning posts, featuring exceptional or relevant posts, and providing “starter questions” for the class 

Although not a replacement for instructor grading, the built in AI coach can be a helpful tool for instructors looking to simplify grading on discussion boards by:  

  • Using AI generated “curiosity” scores to measure participation  
  • Using AI generated feedback to ensure students are meeting minimum requirements before they post (questions type and length, use of outside sources, etc.) 

Packback’s main function is as an online discussion forum for students. Packback features some of the following: 

  • Integrates into Canvas 
  • Provides alternative to traditional discussion board 
  • Uses AI generated feedback to score student posts as they write them 
  • Adjustable AI features like minimum requirements for posts (ex: word count, citing outside sources, etc.), auto-feature for top posts, inputting scores, and more 
  • Posts can include images, links, videos, and gifs (videos limited to YouTube, Vimeo, and Daily Motion) 
  • Sortable discussion feed and keyword search 
  • Questions can be pinned to top of discussion board 
  • Create sections or small groups within discussion (great for large classes) 
  • Feature posts with model discussion questions, insightful responses, or questions relevant to current course focus 
  • Provide direct feedback to student posts either publicly or privately 

5 Star –


Accessibility Review: 5 Stars  

  • Supports Text to Speech (TTS) such as NVDA, Jaws, or Voiceover 
  • Supports Speech to Text (STT) such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking or Voice Dictation 
  • Supports Alternative Input Experience/Keyboard Navigation 
  • Supports Screen Magnification and Color Contrast 
  • Has an annual accessibility audit, a dedicated accessibility website, and form to report accessibility issues: https://www.packback.co/product/accessibility/

Packback ranks 5 stars for accessibility. To learn more about the accessibility review, contact otl@du.edu. 

“This technology is not included with the University of Denver. Faculty, staff, and students may need to purchase a subscription. The technology may offer educational pricing with an “.edu” email address. Free trials or free accounts may also be available through the technology website.” 

Cost is 29$ for first time users 

Packback (Spring 2021). Impact of Online Discussion Platform and Pedagogy on Student Outcomes. Packback. https://www.packback.co/resources/impact-of-online-discussion-platform-and-pedagogy-on-student-outcomes/. 

Reed, Katrina Black. (2021). “Advancing Diversity During a Pandemic: Using the PackBack Platform as a Tool.” Schole: A Journal of Leisure Studies and Recreation Education.  https://doi.org/10.1080/1937156X.2021.1984857 

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OTL Technology Rating
GREEN technologies are appropriate for teaching at DU. The tool does not pose a risk to student privacy or FERPA regulations..