Common Sense Review
Updated May 2013

eBackpack

Easy system to submit, review, and store digital assignments
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Common Sense Rating 3
  • Teachers can view their classes as a student.
  • Teachers can organize and manage their classes, files, and folders.
  • A view of the teacher dashboard.
  • Adding an assignment.
  • A view of the student eportfolio.
Pros
Students can submit a variety of digital assignments from multiple devices in a range of file formats.
Cons
While students can build a digital portfolio, it's only viewable within the closed system.
Bottom Line
This is a great way to create a paperless classroom, but its potential for enhancing learning depends completely on how teachers use it.
Mary Beth Hertz
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 2

The interface, while organized and easy to understand, isn't particularly engaging or engrossing for students.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Immediate feedback, collaboration, and the ability to build a digital portfolio offer the potential to enhance classroom learning. However, whether it actually succeeds in doing so is completely dependent on the teacher using it.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Support documents and video tutorials are available for students and teachers. However, the interface is text-heavy and could be more accessible for students with learning differences and special needs.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

The most obvious use for eBackpack is in a language arts classroom, where students could submit drafts of essays, receive written feedback from the teacher, and resubmit essays with their revisions. Since the system allows for a variety of file types, math teachers could collect diagrams that students create, a statistics teacher could collect spreadsheets and graphs, and a social studies teacher could collect student presentations.

Students can upload files to their eportfolio or to their My Files folder, which acts as online file locker. They can use the ebox folder for collaborative projects, file sharing, and offering peer review or feedback.

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What's It Like?

eBackpack is a great solution for teachers looking to collect, review, grade, and return digital assignments to their students. Like other learning management systems, eBackpack not only allows for submitting digital work, it also gives teachers the ability to annotate student work for feedback. In addition to the website, eBackpack has an iPad app that supports on-screen annotation with a finger or stylus. eBackpack can integrate with existing student management systems to automatically import student data.

When teachers sign up for eBackpack, they can create users and classes. If the tool is connected with the school’s existing student database, classes and students may show up automatically. Teachers can create assignments, set due dates, and indicate whether late submissions are accepted. Once students submit an assignment, the teacher can review, grade, and return it to the student. Feedback is limited to virtual sticky notes. From their home screens, students can see returned assignments, view the teacher feedback, and submit revisions.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Students and teachers can use eBackpack across a variety of subject areas. The tool is best suited for grades 6-12. One of the downsides to eBackpack is that the feedback can only be provided in written form at this time. For students with learning differences or who struggle with reading, this could be a cause for frustration. In addition, the eportfolio (digital portfolio) that the students create stays hidden within the eBackpack system and isn't viewable outside of the system. What happens to this portfolio once students leave the school? It also keeps students from asking for feedback from a wider audience.

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