Packback Case Study: Jodi Hallsten-Lyczak

Jodi Hallsten-Lyczak has been an instructor at Illinois State University for the last five years in the communication department. In 2007, Jodi was named the Outstanding University Teacher, which is the highest recognition offered by Illinois State University for outstanding teaching. That year, she was also awarded the highest teaching award designated by the College of Arts and Sciences.

Jodi utilized Packback Answers in both of her courses this semester; Communication Theory and Introduction to Mass Communication. Both of these courses had approximately 150 students per class, and catered to the Freshman/Sophomore communication or general education student. Her goal in using Packback was to finally use a discussion board that cultivated quality discussion rather than just being busy work, and the discussion that resulted on Packback far exceeded her expectations.


Course Details:

Professor Name: Jodi Hallsten-Lyczak

University: Illinois State University

Subject: Communication

Course(s) using Packback: Communication Theory, Introduction to Mass Communications

Students per class:  450 students total


Feedback from Professor Hallsten-Lyczak

What did you previously do to manage participation in your class?

Professor Hallsten-Lyczak: “Before Packback I wasn’t able to effectively manage participation and discussion in my lecture halls. It’s difficult to manage a meaningful discussion in a room with 100 people, and although I’d try, I knew there were a lot of kids not participating.  I knew they had important contributions to make, too!  I had tried discussion boards on our LMS (Sakai) without a great deal of success. It got to the point where I just gave up.”

What were the biggest problems you wanted to solve by implementing Packback in your classroom?

Professor Hallsten-Lyczak: “There are always two challenges associated with online discussion boards. First is quality of discussion, and second is management. I wanted to make sure that if I assigned an online discussion board it would be worth the students’ time. Students needed to be able to create and participate in quality discussions that promoted learning and critical thinking.  I didn’t want something that would turn out to be them simply logging on and posting something quick, and therefore lame, in an effort to fulfill a requirement.  Second, with several hundred students across classes in a semester, I didn’t want to be bogged down with facilitating and grading a discussion board.  I’m grateful that Packback exceeded my expectations in terms of both of these challenges.”

What has your experience been with Packback?

Professor Hallsten-Lyczak: “Packback has exceeded my expectations in every way. It’s intuitive for the students to use and  it’s easy to peruse and participate in discussions…[and] hasn’t added to my workload, which I appreciate.  What has surprised me the most are the quality of the questions the students are submitting.  I’ve used LMS discussion boards but never with the level of success afforded by Packback. The students ask questions that move far beyond simple knowledge and comprehension of course content; the questions are insightful and demonstrate critical analysis of our class content, they synthesize the various ideas we learn, and I’m even seeing questions that evaluate the theories and models from readings and lectures, stimulating rich discussion amongst their peers.  I feel strongly that through their use of Packback, students are exploring our class content more thoroughly and are consequently having an enhanced learning experience. I never thought I’d find discussion boards “fun” to work with, and I can honestly say that it has been quite enjoyable seeing what the students have to say and participating in awesome discussions with them outside of class.”

Packback has exceeded my expectations in every way. It’s intuitive for the students to use and  it’s easy to peruse and participate in discussions…[and] hasn’t added to my workload, which I appreciate.  What has surprised me the most are the quality of the questions the students are submitting.  I’ve used LMS discussion boards but never with the level of success afforded by Packback.

What makes you passionate about the subject you teach?

Professor Hallsten-Lyczak: “Communication is the cornerstone of our lives. I fully agree with the researchers who argue that “one cannot not communicate.”  Yet, everyone seems to take for granted that because communication comes naturally for us as humans, after time we’re skilled at it. Not so! And this is why I love what I do: I love helping students become more effective communicators in a variety of contexts and helping them better understand communication processes. I love when the light bulb comes on for them, and when they suddenly recognize their own communication patterns as well as others’ patterns. I love it when they are able to explain why people say what they do and respond the way they do in given situations. The students get excited and I can’t help but get excited for them, because I totally understand: it really is so cool.  Connecting with students in that way is the most rewarding feeling in the world.”

 

Hot topics from her Study Groups

In COM 111:
Violating personal space.
Social media – problems, improvements, and innovations.
The “Face” in Communication:  how people judge it, how people use it
In COM 160:
Changing media outlets due to digital growth in media.
Film and music persuasive communication/marketing tactics.
How gender alters message or message reception.

 

Top questions from her Study Group

What new Kinds of technology will emerge (considering Displacement Theory)?

Based on the Displacement Theory, something new will come along in the future that will replace the amount of time we spend on the internet, what do you think this will be? Or is it possible that we could regress back to something like the television or radio instead?

Are there better ways to encourage people to work better than money?

Taylor used the phrase “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work”. Is this the best way to motivate the workers or is there something you would do if you ran the company?

Do you think product placement in films is effective? Why or why not?

Movies such as Wayne’s World and Jurassic World are known for their use of product placement in their films. As a viewer how effective do you think product placement is? Is there a pattern in what products are promoted or how they are presented throughout various films?

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