For the next 6 weeks I am leading an interdisciplinary design project with our grade 10 Careers and Design students. Their challenge is to visually communicate key statistics and interesting facts about a career of choice by designing a professional infographic.

In the first part of this post series I chronicle the process of project-based learning:

Checking In

Since this is our first official year using the new MYP Design objectives, standards and assessment criteria, the introductory class began with a quick diagnostic using an open Poll activity in Moodle. The results facilitated good table discussions and highlighted gaps in student knowledge and understanding. I am a big proponent of diagnostics, they lead to richer conversations with/between students, identify expertise within class and peer learning opportunities and give good data from which to develop personalised support structures.

Stage 1: Inquiring and Analysis

If there is one skill project-based learning really commands it is organisation and this is were Evernote shines. To help students with their organisation of six weeks worth of research, ideation, creation and evaluation I prepared a sample notebook with Evernote which contains note with basic scaffolding.

The sample notebook is imported by students into the Evernote App, shared publicly and the URL is then submitted to me via the Assignment activity in Moodle. Using this workflow I find it very easy to track student submissions, provide feedback on progress and grade.

With the Evernote Web Clipper browser extension, students can quickly and easily store visual ‘clippings’ of relevant web resources complete with the source meta data such as time/date and URL making citations a breeze.

Finally, to offset the ‘Google effect’ I encouraged students to browse specific warehouses of design inspiration such as Pinterest and ISSUU.

Stage 2: Developing Ideas

A fascinating aspect of this stage is that moment when paper and pencil are encouraged for ideation of designs. My observation is that many students in technology rich schools tend to find it challenging to depart from the screen and free draw.

To counter this sketching is mandated for the first two lessons of this stage. After approximately 5-10 minutes of fidgeting and sly attempts to peek at the screen, the class settled into the process and allowed thoughts to flow. I played some atmospheric music while they sketched to stimulate the creative mind.

Once students arrived at a finalised sketch, they scanned and posted this to a discussion forum on Moodle and then provide feedback to three of their peers. Having the forum open to all three classes fostered a sense of community and broadened the feedback loop.

Next Steps

In the second part of this series I’ll share the creative process of transforming sketches to the final printed product with Adobe Creative Cloud as well as the evaluation process and reflections.

Stay tuned.

CC image by Flickr user Daniel Zeevi