Using Sketchnotes in the Classroom
One part of my working life is teaching college students Human Resources. This semester I have five sections of an introductory course. There are learners from all years, but over 75% of the class are first year students in their first semester of college.
In the past, I’ve found it hard to get people in the habit of note-taking. Sometimes students will arrive at class without paper or a pen and other times they’ll open laptops for ‘notes’ but then spend their time surfing sports scores or updating their FB status.
I decided to be proactive this year - I implemented a no computer rule with exceptions granted only in special circumstances and I’ve also changed what I’m doing during the lectures. I have re-organized my slide deck to be more logical (it is amazing what just a few header slides will do to bring order to material!), I’ve created and distributed note-taking sheets that contain my section headings for the module (these have been surprisingly popular) and I craved out some seminar time in the first week to teach visual note-taking.
What I offered was ‘Simple Visual Note-taking’. I shared a sketchnote I made of the lecture that week (right), covered the basics (lettering, connectors, containers for information and some simple figures) in a few slides and then had them practice by watching a Three Minute Ted Talk (Matt Cutt’s Try Something New for 30 Days) and share their results. They all tried it - some found it liberating and others said immediately that it wasn’t for them.
This week, only a handful of students weren’t taking notes during the lectures - a huge improvement over last year. Research tells me this should lead to greater understanding of the information and, ultimately, better retention. Their first mid-term is in ten days so I’ll have some evidence after that about whether this is making a difference. I’ll keep you posted.
If you are curious, I used the following resources to help inform the seminar:
- The Visual Note Taking Panel Discussion at SXSW 2010: http://austinkleon.com/2010/05/10/visual-note-taking-101-sxsw-panel/
- Brad Ovenell-Carter’s Sketchnote Primer Video: http://www.ovenell-carter.com/blog-2/
- Mike Rohde’s Sketchnote Handbook and Sketchnote Workbook: http://rohdesign.com
- Sunni Brown’s Doodle Revolution: http://sunnibrown.com