And now, may I present to you my Course 3 final project: A unit on digital wellbeing!

Hooray! After I hit publish on this post, COETAIL Course 3 “Visual Literacy” will officially be finished!

Photo by Sagar Patil on Unsplash.

Course 3 Final Project Overview:

For the Course 3 Final Project we were asked to work in a small global group to:

  1. Create a unit planner based on the enduring understandings of this course that support students in becoming Creative Communicators and Global Collaborators (ISTE Standards for Students 6 and 7).

  2. Choose one learning experience from your unit plan and develop it to the extent that you could facilitate it. This learning experience could be an entire lesson plan or 1 activity from a lesson. Create and share a slide deck that would allow you to facilitate this learning experience for students.

My teammates for this project were: David Berg, Justin Ouellette, and Danielle Richert. We had collaborated successfully for the Course 2 final project and thus jumped at the opportunity to work together again.

Here is the link to our unit planner: Digital Wellness + How we express ourselves with media!

CSE Icon for Media Balance and Wellbeing, An Aspect of Digital Wellness. Source: CSE.org

This unit was created for grade 12 students in a Design and Communications Class. It is based on Common Sense Education’s (CSE’s) lessons for grade 12 students related to the “Six Aspects of Digital Wellbeing“:

  1. Media Balance

  2. Privacy and Security

  3. Digital Footprint and Identity

  4. Relationships and Communication

  5. Cyberbullying, Digital Drama, and Hate Speech

  6. News and Media Literacy

In this unit, the students learn about Digital Wellbeing and then create a piece of digital media to communicate what they learned with other students and members of their school community.

Here are the six lessons on Digital Wellbeing from CSE:

Common Sense Education Lessons on Digital Wellbeing for Grade 12 Students. Source: CSE.

Here is the GRASPS task that we developed for this unit (see this link to learn more about what a GRASPS task is and how it can help teachers plan for meaningful assessments):

GRASPS task overview for the Digital Wellness Unit. Created by my Course 3 Final Project team.

Here is the unit road map we developed (It’s a six-week inquiry unit):

Wellness Unit Road Map created by @juouelle.

Here is the link to the learning experience/slide deck that I prepared: “Creating Influential Short Films”.

I also made a video called “iMovie: 5 Tips and Tricks for Beginners” as part of my presentation. 

Video Disclaimer: This was my first time creating a video using iMovie, and it definitely shows. However, I included it here because I have learned in COETAIL that being vulnerable is essential if one is to grow in the field of #edtech.

Also, I had a lot of fun making this video. It was exciting to be collaborating with some of my American Embassy School New Delhi colleagues in a different way. I am proud of what I accomplished. It feels good to be a creator rather than just a consumer of content! Next time, I know it will be even better…

Reflection Questions:

Why did you choose the option you chose?

We chose to create a unit plan because we had created a teacher professional development workshop for the Course 2 final project. So, to mix it up, we went with the unit plan option this time. We thought it would be interesting to compare the experience of developing content for our co-workers vs. developing content for our students.

Why did you choose this topic? These standards?

We decided to focus our unit around Digital Wellness because many of our schools have listed Wellness as an Area of Focus for the year. As a result of the pandemic, we have turned to our devices for comfort, solace, and stress relief. Recent studies linking Instagram use in teenage girls to increased rates of depression are worrisome (see this article in the NYTimes for more on that). Paying attention to Digital Wellness now, more than ever, is necessary if we are to have healthy relationships with tech in the future.

We chose the communication standards because COETAIL Course 3 has been all about visual communication using digital tools. So we wanted to take the opportunity to model/share what we had learned about that as well.

How did you grow as a collaborator and facilitator during Course 3? 

I grew as a collaborator because I realized just how important it is to get feedback along the way when designing instruction for students. Justin, especially, was a great thinking partner for me (and so responsive to my frequent messages on Twitter). I ran my slide deck past him several times, asked him for resources on iMovie, and talked with him about how to present content to the students – the choice board idea was actually his.

I also benefitted greatly from talking with team members via Google Meet and WhatsApp. Having opportunities to collaborate both formally and informally keep the communication channels open throughout the month, and allowed me to feel like my teammates were my partners, despite the fact that we all live in different countries! Working across oceans has never been easier thanks to modern advances in technology.

How was this final project different from or similar to other learning experiences you have designed/facilitated?

The unit is different from ones that I have created in the past because it is more of an inquiry unit rooted in the IB/DP model. It was interesting to talk with my group members who are teaching at IB schools about how they structure units to allow for student agency throughout.

I also really like how this unit allows students to choose what type of digital product they want to create to share their learning. Usually, when I construct units, students are all creating the same final product. However, in this unit, the students are in control of deciding what to make and how.

This unit is similar to other ones I have developed in that it is an example of project-based learning. We used a GRASPS task to introduce the project to students, which is something that I do all the time with my students. I really like how GRASPS tasks bring structure to a learning experience and provide a framework that students can refer back to over the course of the unit.

How does this final project relate to what you learned in Course 3?

Course 3 was all about visual communication. My teammates and I did a nice job of sequencing the learning in a clear way. We especially paid attention to our slide decks, making sure that they were beautiful to look at and easily understandable too. Also, when creating the digital communication workshops for students, we drew heavily upon the work of Doug Taylor from the Western Academy of Beijing, as he has developed numerous graphics to help students develop their visual literacy and communication skills.

What has influenced you the most in Course 3 and how is that reflected in your final project?

What has influenced me the most in this course is the idea of design thinking. As a teacher, I am starting to see my role as that of an Instructional Designer.  I am creating learning experiences for my students. They are my users. I need to have empathy and try to see things from their perspective in order to understand how my lessons might be received. It’s not about me. It’s about them. And that’s a huge mind shift for me in terms of how I approach planning.

Design Thinking Model (Source: Teo Yu Siang and Interaction Design Foundation. Copyright license: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

What outcomes do you hope to see when students (or educators) complete this unit? How will you know that students (or educators) have learned the concepts?

The outcomes I hope to see from students after completing this unit are the same as the big understandings that we wrote in our plan:

1. Paying attention to one’s digital wellbeing is essential if one is to lead a balanced life.

2. Designing media with intentionality, purpose, and most importantly, with the audience in mind, can help us communicate ideas more effectively.

TL:DR and I’ll leave it at that. Thanks for reading (if you read) and see you in Course 4!