Visual Thinking

I have been following the work of @EduWells, @langwitches, @sylviaduckworth and others for several years now. I have always admired people who can draw. But I think the turning point in regards to visual thinking came to me when I picked up an old gift from @arti_choke. She gave me a Moleskine notebook a few years back and reminded me that once in a while I needed to use a pencil and paper. So this year I took the notebook to Tiritirimatangi with me and started doodling. (Hah what a hoot and I am not yet ready to share my scribbles.)

Those of you who know me well know that the only use I have for pens and pencils is to collect them, Totally unintentionally of course. So a warning to you, don’t lend me a pen.

Richard designs most of his graphics digitally using photos and designs he himself has created and Sylvia Duckworth seems to do hers with an iPad. Often drawing the images. As for Sylvia Tolisano hers also seems to be with ipads.

As I investigated people and built a twitter list of people who design visually the hashtag #sketchnote kept surfacing.

Some create better images than others. As is usual with me I often sleep and awake with amazing lightbulb moments. Today was no exception. When I awoke I realised that the better designed graphics have layout as the key.

Yes some include imagery, varying typography and even colour. But the key I believe is in the layout.

Over the past few months I have been using the SOLOTaxonomy question generator app to help clarify the sorts of questions I need to be asking. Via the app these are the three questions that guided me this morning.



Define Sketchnote

So  defines sketchnote as visual notetaking. It has layout, typography, colour, imagery. People who sketchnote basically actively interpret an idea. They identify the essence and visually present those meta ideas. The great ones have strong layout.

Compare Sketchnote and HOTMaps

Now if I compare Sketchnote and  SOLOtaxonomy HOTmaps, the difference is that the HOTmaps help identify what the layout could be. Sketchnote is about creating whereas I think HOTmaps is about layout design. I believe that someone with an understanding of SOLOTaxonomy HOTmaps could create even better sketchnotes because the design layout is already part of that process.

Conclusions regarding sketchnote

The conclusion I draw about sketchnoting is it is SOLOTaxonomy relational thinking because it is about making links with what we know in a visual way. Yes I know it could be extended abstract because new knowledge is being created. However the true function of sketchnoting is to link up ideas. It is to make sense of what we hear or read.

Where to next

I am desperately trying to use that pencil and Moleskine because I love the idea of creating my own images. This year I am aiming to use google draw a lot more in my teaching and learning. The difference  being that I will try to draw my own images. Maybe I might use it to help plan my SOLOTaxonomy HOTmaps and then physically draw from that plan. I also need to come up with my own representation of people. Those of you who know Pam’s doodles know she has a style to her people. 




2 thoughts on “Visual Thinking

  1. Love it Sonya – and the use of the HookED Question Generator as a prompt for surface, deep and conceptual thinking. As for sketching I believe you will surprise yourself – once effort and strategies enable you to release the creative and culturally inspired sketch artist within.


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