Livability Thematic Unit – EdTech 541

Thematic Livability Unit

For EdTech 541 I created an online thematic unit about the livability of a place. The purpose of the project was to create a lesson that would use various social media and Web 2.0 tools to deliver content to students in a real life setting. I used to teach geography, and this was a very useful project for me. It made it easier for me to relate to the students how the physical features of a place can affect whether or not people choose to live there. Before enrolling in the master’s program I would have created paper handouts of everything and given a copy to each student or group. To complete the assignments they would have needed paper maps, cameras, printers, etc.; too many things to mention. But armed with new methods I was able to create a unit that had a home on the Internet where all the materials, links, instructions, and rubrics could be found. The only physical tool they really needed would be a digital camera, but so many students have those, or cell phone cameras, that it really isn’t a concern at all.
The first part of the project involved using the internet to complete research about how natural disasters changed the lives of people in certain places. That information was then pinned to a Google map so that all the students could see what the other groups had done. All instructions were produced via Google docs and available on our class website. Part two had them create an eBook that would be used to to guide people through a survey that would be taken about how much thought adults put into geography before moving to a location. In part three the kids administered the livability survey, entered results into an Excel spreadsheet, and graphed the results. I used screencasting tools to create instructional videos for students who didn’t feel confident in their Excel skills. If I were accomplishing the same tasks now I would have them do the survey using the Google Forms tool, which delivers the survey online and graphs the results for you.
This unit was one of the most detailed and involved I did during my degree program. I don’t know that I was really prepared for it in my first semester. There were so many documents that I had to create, coordinate, and link. Without the class websites, research sites, Google Docs, and photosharing site, I don’t believe the lesson would have had the same impact on students. They came out of it having a greater appreciation of how the geography of a place had impact on that place’s livability. We used that as a jumping off point for the next lesson, Human/Environment Interaction. As a result of completing this project, I’m confident in my skills at planning, monitoring, and controlling the methods in which instructional materials are organized and delivered.