The way in which I learn about specific concepts previously versus how I currently learn with Packback is refreshingly different. As a frequent Packback Questions user in my BIOS 350 Microbiology course, I have first-hand experience regarding the long-term learning that the system encourages through the structure it provides. I find myself actively learning, as opposed to passively acquiring information, when I answer or ask a question on Packback.
For example, in my Microbiology course’s community, I asked a question in regard to determining pathogenic bacterial growth in the lag phase (top image). The bottom image is of a graph from which my question derived.
Although the question may seem particular, the structure that Packback provides when asking questions helped me to think on a higher level, making the potential answers more open-ended and inspired creative thinking as well. Rather than just memorizing what “lag phase” was, Packback required that I think further and apply the knowledge to a bigger picture. Thus, I did not only have to understand what “lag phase,” but I also found greater meaning to it that left a personal mark on myself every time I hear the phase.
The value that comes from this type of learning is priceless, especially for students like me who often struggle to remember facts on a long-term basis. My typical study tools, like textbooks and graphs, often leave me overwhelmed with information and on a very limited track of reading a topic then moving on to the next. Although useful, the graph shown previously as well as similar ones in my textbook, did not ask much of me as a learner. Aside from reading the information and viewing the graph, there was no further interaction with the content.
Using Packback makes me ask and answer questions more carefully since truly mastering the information is shown through the capability of teaching it to others.
As the asker, I had to combine concepts I understood, find where I had gaps in understanding and then translate those gaps into proper questions to bridge my concepts and fill in those gaps. As the answerer, the other student had to apply their knowledge and be capable of sharing it with others in a way that made sense.
One thing I appreciate most is that Packback provides a safe place to ask questions.
Typical sources, like textbooks, are very one-ended in learning. They do not provide a means for multiple people to answer another’s own personal weakness the way that Packback does. Further, the answering student can also link a source that helped them, which can lead me to new information to further understand the information that I wouldn’t have known of otherwise. This has an extra effect of opening up students to new learning opportunities that further enrich understanding and provides additional credibility to answers.
Another way in which credibility is achieved is through the professor’s interaction on Packback Questions. As shown below, the answer has a gold star and was marked “featured.” This shows that the professor took the time to read it and deemed it not only a good answer, but worthy of the entire class paying attention to it. I appreciate that distinguishing factor when studying for exams and trying to determine the best answer to questions I have.
The benefits that have resulted from using Packback Questions are endless, as I truly believe the acquired knowledge will last me forever, and it comes at a price that is significantly less than all other resources provided, required and/or recommended to me at just $18! With Packback I have gained a life skill of asking and answering questions properly, as well as mastering several Microbiology concepts that led to success in the course.
written by Jenna Baker