Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sketchnotes & Visual Thinking: A Different Way of Note-taking

Source: Craighton Berman, Core77
Recently we had the opportunity to attend the Visual Thinking 101 Workshop with designer and illustrator Craighton Berman at the General Assembly in New York City. Berman started the Core77 Sketchnotes Channel and Coretoons, and he writes about the basics of sketchnoting on his blog.

Essentially, sketchnotes are a form of visual note-taking, combining text and images. This is different from graphic facilitation, which is when one person listens to a group and graphically represents the key points of the discussion, such as with ImageThink and Ogilvy Notes. To the contrary, sketchnotes are a personal form of note-taking. Both, however, use the visual thinking process to design information in real time through words and images to communicate ideas.

Source: Craighton Berman, Core77
In most schools today, the current system of note-taking is a linear process and, in many cases, a rote process as well. Too often, we have students take down the information they need from the board, interactive or not, via handwritten information or PowerPoint slides. The interaction or engagement with the material is minimal. Sketchnoting is a higher order process of capturing information. It requires a combination of listening, thinking, and visualizing at the same time. It goes in a constant circular motion and pushes the listener to funnel through the information for the most important parts or patterns. By filtering out the noise, the sketchnoter learns to look for patterns or an anchor around the main idea to focus on the key aspects that support it.

Source: ASIDE, 2012
In the workshops we've taken, the instructor had us practice by listening to a recording or video. Of course, the first line of resistance might be "I can't draw," but with sketchnotes, you don't need to be an artist. It doesn't take much practice to learn the basics of using shapes as people, and with simple, hierarchical visuals, it's easy to add images in the form of containers, icons, or connectors.

The visual cues in sketchnotes enhance the recall process. The user experience with information is broadened, execution is minimal, and it opens up the design process to think about the relationship between the text and image. Essentially, it's about organizing information visually and arranging it in a hierarchy, and this spatial arrangement of information provides a structural framework for the content.

Source: ASIDE, 2012
Since we've sketched out "The Axis of Education" as a matrix for what and how we teach, our hope is to continue to seek ways to build a sense of discovery in helping students learn. And in the end, what they learn and how they learn can only be advanced by giving them more opportunities to be creative thinkers. If moving them closer to thinking like a designer can transform the way they learn, then sketchnotes is one option we should try.

In the larger sense, Craighton Berman's visit to New York coincided with the launch of the School of Visual Arts inaugural Products of Design MFA Program, which hopes to transform designers by:
"educating their head, heart and hands to reinvent systems, create new types of value, and catalyze positive change through the business of making." 
We dare say, isn't this what we want as educators for our students, too? From icons to iPads, our students are constantly immersed in using visual cues to think, make, and do things.
Source: Craighton Berman, Core77

2 comments:

  1. What are some of the best digital tools (free) for teachers and students that can facilitate visual note creation? I love this post!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I use Penultimate and Notability on the iPad - simple and easy to use. I draw and write with an Alupan too.

    ReplyDelete

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