My section of the Tackling a Wicked Problem course is focused on climate change. I gave the students the following list of phrases and challenged them to explain the ways in which each of these relate to the climate change wicked problem:
Hockey Stick Graph
Robert Downey, Jr.
Polar Ice Caps
Consumption of Beef
Droughts and Floods
Sea Level Rise
Medieval Warm Period
UN Paris Accord
I could tell from their discussions that the students already know a lot about climate change. Their first major assignment is due Wednesday. I presented the assignment to them in two ways both because I want to be as accessible as possible and because I want students to start thinking about how they present information to their audiences.
First, I presented a “traditional” description of the assignment:
IS1115.04 — Tackling a Wicked Problem: Climate Change
Assignment: Climate Change One-Pager
Due: September 11, 2019
Pick two or more climate change phrases.
Explain what those phrases mean using text, images, icons, symbols, etc.
Explain the connections between the phrases using text, images, icons, symbols, etc.
This assignment will allow you to:
Learn about and practice information literacy. Because you will be researching phrases related to climate change, you will need to know how to determine whether a source is reliable and the information you are finding is valid.
Practice and think about purposeful communication. You will be presenting information that you have learned using both text and imagery. We will talk about the ways in which presenting information using a one-pager is similar to and different from using other modes of communication (such as writing a traditional research paper or writing a blog post or giving a speech.
What is a One-Pager?
Put the highlights of what you have learned on a single page. Research shows that representing information in multiple formats (which is called “dual encoding”) helps you learn and understand more deeply. And you will remember more of what you have represented using dual encoding than if you represent things just with text or just with imagery.
“Students might include quotations, ideas, images, analysis, key names and dates, and more. They might use their one-pagers to make connections to their own lives, to art or films, to pop culture, to what they’re learning in their other classes. They might even do it all. You’d be amazed at how much can fit on a single piece of paper.” (from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/one-pagers/)
And then I used a one-pager to describe the assignment:
I plan to use this assignment to talk about the fact that learning science tells us that encoding information in two ways aids learning. We will discuss how the students can use this fact in this and other classes to aid their own learning. This assignment helps them to remember information about their climate change phrases and how they are connected by asking them to use dual encoding to describe the phrases and their connections.
I also plan to use this assignment to talk about the purposeful communication Habit of Mind. We will talk about the ways in which using multiple media might help with communication to various audiences. I want students to start thinking about visual communication since they will need to think about creating a poster at the end of the semester. Getting students to think about both textual and visual communication early in the semester will help them to develop their purposeful communication Habit of Mind.
In addition, in the one-pager description of the assignment, I illustrated some connections between climate change phrases. For example, I drew a picture of increasing temperature and sea level rise next to each other. The juxtaposition of the two images should model for the students that there is a connection between the two. Because the purpose of my one-pager was different than the purpose of the students’ assignments, I didn’t provide further explanation of the connection. I hope that the materials indicate to students that they need to provide that explanation. This will be something we discuss in class.
I’m trying to model the Habits of Mind as much as possible throughout the class. I hope this assignment serves as a good model.
Image credit: I drew this image and then used CamScanner to take a photo of it and include it in my workflow.
I am currently Professor of Digital Media at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. I am also the current Coordinator of General Education at the University. I am interested in game studies, digital literacies, open pedagogies, and generally how technology impacts our culture.