Deepening your Doodling

Jason Toal and Barb Berry demonstrate the "Doodle Claw".

Have you ever wondered how doodling can help you to improve your thinking, support  your learning, assist you as an instructor to design your course and even help you to take notes in an important meeting?  You’ve all

heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Indeed, considerable research documents that most of us are better remembering complex ideas  if we have a visual representation of the ideas. Mary Ellen Weimer points out in her recent 2012 article in Faculty Focus entitled “A Graphic Syllabus can bring Clarity to Course Structure” , that while the practice of instructors ask students to generate concept maps, mind-maps, flow charts is not uncommon, it is not not common for instructors to generate similar “maps” to show the flow and structure of their course. The practice of “sketching” your course is one we have tried in the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU and for those instructors who have put pencil to paper or colours to the whiteboard, creating a visual representation of their course has helped them to clarify and define the flow, the sequencing and often scaffolding of content and student assignments.

“Deepening your Doodling”

Mark Lechner contemplates the Doodle Wall.

On December 12, the Faculty of Health Sciences, teaching and learning group co-hosted a workshop with the SFU Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC) called “Deepening Your Doodling” with Interaction Specialist, Jason Toal. Eight faculty and staff actively practiced the fundamental principles and techniques of visual representation.

We began the workshop with a “warm up” icebreaker  and Jason demonstrated his visual prowess capturing the interests of participants and their current “doodling” practices. Many people doodle! Who knew? After the opening, we “teamed” up to practice the familiar game of “pictionary” where pairs had to sketch a picture that the other member of their team had to guess. This was a fun way to get things started. Then, with each person “at the wall”, pens in hand, Jason guided everyone through the fundamental techniques as graphic representation including: planning visual space, using lines, drawing symbols, drawing figures, and using colour. We discovered that there are some artists in our midst and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and acquire some new found eagerness to keep doodling.

The challenge: doodle your next meeting and see what happens.

Sheila Falconer places some final flourishes on her work.

Resources of Interest

Agerbeck, Brandy (2012). The Graphic Facilitator’s Guide. This is a great little book of techniques.

Agerbeck, Brandy. Youtube video. Getting the most value from Research. This is an example of a video produced by Brandy demonstrating some of her skill and the techniques of visual representation.

Nilson, Linda (2007). The Graphical Syllabus and the Outcomes Map. Jossey-Bass.

Visual Note Taking: a site about the basics of visual notetaking, visual facilitation, graphic representation.

Visual Thinking: Symbolic Ways of Representing Ideas: Provides a comprehensive set of symbols that can be used to generate visual representations that can be used in the classroom.

Participants try their hand at visual vocabulary.