Lessonbee: Managing Stress and Building Resilience
A digital lesson in mental health for students in grades 6-12.
Product Designer, UX Designer, Researcher, Visual Designer, Writer
Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Articulate Storyline 360
User Interviews, Storyboarding, User Journey, User Flows
Lessonbee is a company that creates digital, interactive lessons in health education for students at grades K-12. Health Education is often set as a low priority in schools, and often does not cater to the way students think and feel. Digital lessons are designed to engage students as well as teach them in a comfortable, private environment where they feel they can be honest about themselves. The lessons also communicate to the students in ways that are culturally relatable, and they assess misconceptions students may have.
My team and I were tasked to create a digital lesson in mental health that teaches students about managing stress and building resilience. The lesson had to be engaging, fun, educational, and culturally responsive. It also had to assess the students to make sure they absorbed the knowledge taught, as well as assess misconceptions students may have about mental health.
Our research phase was split into three parts: learning how to engage students, what content to teach in the lesson, and what misconceptions students may have had on mental health. The lesson content was provided to us via subject matter expert.
Getting to know the Students:
We conducted user interviews to learn what engages students based on previous digital lessons they had taken.
- Key takeaways:
- Engaging in text message conversations
- General conversation interactivity
- Interactivity with story
- Semi realistic illustrative style (as opposed to a more "cartoony" style"
- Students' Misconceptions on Resilience:
- Resilience is about having a thick skin
- Resilience is about being able to accept defeat
- People are born resilient
- Students' Misconceptions on Relaxation:
- Watching television and browsing social media are effective ways of relaxing
- Relaxation is not productive and therefore not worth the time
- Relaxation should only be done after finishing all required work
We performed additional online research on common stressors teens and preteens face. This would guide us to creating a lesson that is relatable for students. These stressors included:
- Body Image
- Studying for exams (i.e. test anxiety)
- Family conflict
Once the research phase was finished, we moved to the planning phase. This involved laying out what information was to be taught, how to address misconceptions students might have, how the students would be assessed, all while keeping the user journey in mind.
Synthesizing Our Users' Thoughts:
In order to synthesize our information, I planned out our lesson on the whiteboard. This helped us map out how information was to be taught across the lesson, plan out our story, and brainstorm ideas on how to teach different pieces of information in engaging ways.
In order to plan our lesson, we had to keep in mind the core concepts about stress that students needed to be taught, and stress topics that students would relate to. Those topics included the nature of stress, causes and effects, body image, and ways of managing stress.
We brainstormed ideas on how to teach the nature of stress to students in a fun and engaging way. One idea we explored was a graphic of a brain that the student could interact with. By discovering hotspots, the student could explore the different sections of the brain and how they relate to stress.
One of the common stress challenges that students often face is body image. We listed topics within body image to cover in the lesson including possible assessment questions.
Another common stress challenge we discovered in students is interpersonal stress. We listed possible causes and solutions and assessment questions like we did for the topic of body image.
Visualizing the Story:
After planning what should be taught in the lesson, I drew a storyboard of rough sketches that give a visual of how the lesson would play out. These sketches got everyone in the team on the same page, and helped brainstorm further ideas.
I sketched the first set of boards to visualize the beginning section of the lesson. I began with a board that establishes the scene, and then one that establishes the main characters the user would be able to explore. After that, I sketched a small sequence that would either teach or review the concept of "fight or flight" depending on how the user answers a question about stress. This was a way of addressing a possible misconceptions the user might have.
The next set of boards allowed the team to visualize the story path of Chioma, who struggles with body image. These boards not only allowed the team to better visualize the story, but allowed everyone to visualize the interactions the user would be able to engage with. I decided to create a way for the user to control how characters respond to other characters through a comic book style. This was another way of exploring the user's possible misconceptions.
The third set of boards follows the path of Isaac, a character who struggles with test anxiety. Here, we were able to visualize texting conversations as well as a reflection question.
The last set of boards follow the path of Liam, a character who struggles with family conflict. I decided this path would focus more on the character's inner feelings rather than social interactions. This was a good opportunity to visualize a fun interaction that allows the user to interact with a brain diagram to learn about the neurological causes and effects of stress.
Creating the Characters
After the story was fully planned out, we created moodboards to show what our characters would look like. These illustrations also gave us an idea of the look and feel of the lesson.
Drawing the Story:
We drew out each illustration in black and white and placed them in an edit. These edits gave us a clearer vision of the story, which led us to make further edits. At this point, we felt the story was mostly locked down, so we moved to then moved to color.
Edited illustrations with color:
With all of the illustrations complete, I finalized the edit with all of the interactions included.
The lessons allows the student to choose to follow the stories of different characters who experience different types of stress. The lessons takes the student through a simulated texting conversation that relates to the way students converse that is entertaining. The student can also interact with the conversation by choosing how a character responds.
Comic Book Style:
The lesson also presents conversation in different ways. Here, the student can choose how a character responds in the conversation based on the student's prior knowledge. Through this style of adaptivity, the lesson is able to address the student's misconceptions, and teach accordingly.
Another method of adaptivity is deciding what characters are thinking to themselves.
In this example, the lesson needed to know if the student is already familiar with certain concepts such as "fight or flight". The lesson can teach according to the student's misconceptions by having the student answer simple ungraded questions.
We wanted the lesson to teach the student about the relationship between stress and the human brain. In order to make this dry and technical part of the lesson more engaging, we "gamified" the experience by creating an interactive brain that the student can click on in order to learn more stess and the brain.
To bring it back home, we wanted the student to reflect on how they could apply what they learned in the lesson to their own personal lives.
We’ve had very positive feedback from both students who took the lesson and the school staff. The following quotes are from three different people:
"I like being able to text with the characters because it made it feel more realistic and modern."
- 8th Grade Student
"Lessonbee helps me feel more prepared if this type of situation comes and it would prepare others because it would help them learn about themselves."
- 8th Grade Student
"I love how Lessonbee offers students an opportunity to ask questions without being embarrassed."
- School Director