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Online Discussion Platform Adds AI Writing Assistant

Online discussion platform Packback has introduced Deep Dives, an AI-enabled writing coach designed to help students improve their writing.

As students write their assignments, Deep Dives provides personalized feedback on writing mechanics, flow, and structure. The AI-supported categories for each assignment rubric are customizable, the company explained in a news announcement, so that instructors can choose what types of feedback students receive. Students can utilize that feedback to refine their writing before finalizing the assignment and submitting it to their instructor. On the instructor side, Deep Dives automates the process of grading writing mechanics, so that faculty can focus on the content of student work.

"What makes Packback's approach unique is that it levels the playing field for all students, regardless of skill level," noted Samuel Cannon, assistant professor at Louisiana State University-Shreveport, in a statement. "The real-time feedback they receive while they write builds their confidence, encourages good writing habits, and helps them achieve mastery — while also freeing up time for me to focus on the meaningful, substantive feedback."

This fall, Packback surveyed 673 instructors and students about their experience using the tool. The majority of students reported receiving more A grades on writing assignments and feeling more confident in their writing abilities when they used Deep Dives. Seventy-eight percent of instructors agreed that the tool made assigning and grading writing assignments more feasible and manageable, and a similar share said they were either "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with their students' writing after using Deep Dives.

Related Reading

Learn how Ivy Tech Community College is exploring the potential of the Packback online discussion tool to engage underrepresented students.

"The past two years have widened existing gaps in writing proficiency that can cause students to fall behind in their academic progress. Technologies like Packback can ensure that all students receive the formative writing feedback they need to develop a strong foundation of writing skills," said Jessica Tenuta, co-founder and chief product officer at Packback. "Our work is about enabling instructors to spend more time providing their students with feedback on their concepts and content, rather than correcting grammar mistakes. Together with our school and district partners, we're working to make the writing process more engaging and meaningful in ways that will inspire students to keep writing throughout their college journey and beyond."

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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