Last Thursday we had the great pleasure of having Giulia Forsythe discuss the art of sketchnoting (a.k.a. visual note-taking) during class. She didn’t come in live, rather she made a video wherein she shared an overview of what visual sketchnoting entails, her method, as well as some tips and ideas of how students in ds106 might experiment with the form. You can see her post on the resources she prepared for this class here, and I am also embedding her video below.
I had the students watch Giulia’s video “How ds106 changed my life”—which demonstrates her art form beautifully—before having them watch the above video that breaks down her thinking and method. We then went on to watch the RSA Animation of David Harvey’s Crises of Capitalism, which further demonstrated the power of sketching/drawing as a way to understand more complex ideas and theories—it is remarkable how much the sketching of Harvey’s talk makes it that much more accessible.
As a final exercise for the evening, I played Sir Ken Robinson’s “Changing Educational Paradigms” without the animation—only the sound—with the idea that we all would try and sketch our notes of the talk. It was insanely difficult for me, and you can see some of the results of the exercise on Flickr. A number of students actually remarked how much they enjoyed that class after it ended, and I too thought it went pretty well thanks to Giulia. But I was also concerned that the Ken Robinson example for sketchnoting was too difficult for a first shot—which I think it was.
What amazed me though is that during student conferences yesterday and today a number of them brought up their interest in pursuing sketch-noting as a final project, more specifically as a way to illustrate complex ideas in chemistry and historic preservation. I love the whole thing. Take, for example, Emily DelRoss who was so intrigued by the class that she used it to illustrate her work for another class as a design assignment, and I love the whole crossover of that realization because it’s not really about ds106, but rather everything else. What’s more, she talks about the idea of doodling providing a sense of humanity to the cold ideas of technology, which is a really profound observation, and she says it much better than I can paraphrase it:
Another aspect of Giulia’s technique regarding design, which I particularly love, is how it makes technology feel more comfortable. Doodles just feel really simple and organic. They remind me of my own hand-written notes from middle school (…and high school and college :/ ). As you have probably gathered about me this far, technology scares me. I feel like it’s this cold world where everyone knows what they are doing and they all have secret a little techno chat language and special little buttons they know how to use. (DS106 is helping me break down this perception, but it still lurks in the back of my mind.) Seeing a doodle integrated into technology makes the virtual world feel a little warmer and a whole lot more welcoming!
That’s the money quote, and this is the result of the exercise:
Thank you for inspiring awesome, Giulia!