Posts tagged online discussion

Engaging Students with Technology

How one professor at Michigan State University utilized technology in the classroom to increase student engagement, promote critical thinking and improve student exam grades. 

Students walk into Dr. Kaston Anderson-Carpenter’s psychology course at Michigan State University, take their seat and pull out their laptops, tablets and smartphones. His classroom quickly fills with rows of students interacting with their devices. However, what fills their screens is not the social media or text messages that many professors notice distracting their students. Instead, students in Dr. Anderson-Carpenter’s class are opening education applications such as Packback to review their posts in preparation for the day’s class.

Dr. Anderson-Carpenter recognizes that today’s young adults depend on technology to do everything from communicating with their professors to conducting research and accessing their textbooks. His goal is not to discourage students from using their devices, but to use their devices to keep them engaged during lectures. “For me, it’s about being innovative in the classroom, whatever that looks like,” says Dr. Anderson-Carpenter. “I know that students are going to use technology in the classroom, whether it’s Facebooking [or] online shopping while the instructor is giving the lecture, it happens. So, I asked myself, ‘What can I do to get them using technology in a more engaging way so that I could minimize them getting off track?'”

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Using Packback In Large Lectures

The first time I taught a 100-student course, I felt overwhelmed by how different it was from a 20-student class. Suddenly, I had five times as many names to remember. Five times as many papers to grade. Five times as many emails to answer. It was an adjustment, but with time I discovered new tricks for learning names, I set boundaries for myself on answering emails and I moved from a discussion-based class to more lectures and group activities. After experimenting for a few semesters, I finally felt comfortable.

Then I was assigned a 400-student class.

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Introducing New Feature: Critical Debates

We are passionate about building a platform that inspires students to become curious about course material and encourages an academic debate between classmates. With Packback’s new Critical Debates feature, learners can now reply directly to Responses with a Counter Point or Supporting Point. This new feature makes it possible for the entire class to engage in true deep, critical discussions that better mirror a live debate.

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