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Engaging in Discussion with Graphic Recordings

Thursday, December 12th, 2013 | Posted by Chelsea Hostetter

Lately, I haven’t been as engaged with my design work as I’d like to be. I’m sure that you can relate. Winter slows us down, we catch a cold or two, we’re looking forward to the holidays, and we’re not engaged with our work.

I’ve recently discovered that sketching and drawing visualizations of things keeps me engaged and interested in content, and I’ve been wanting to try out this graphic note taking I’ve been hearing about in IXDA meetings and TED talks.

So, I did a graphic note taking in my Service Design class, taught by Chris Risdon.

These are done in fine point Sharpie and simple graph paper—the only post-editing that was done was to take out the graph lines in Photoshop.

I think the graph lines helped me divide the space evenly between quadrants, and help me plan out what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go next. Obviously, I didn’t record the entire hour-long lecture—only the key points that stood out to me, but the entire time, I felt engaged in the discussion and understood more what each person’s argument was when I doodled their face next to a quote.

So far, the two most challenging parts of graphic note taking are:
1) planning out your space and making sure you have enough space for your notes
2) deciding what lines you should put down first.

I started thinking about what my notes might look like as a pop-up book, where, if a section were 3D, it would be cut into three parts: foreground, middle ground, and background, and would overlap to create the illusion of a 3D image. You can see in the above image there were a few times that I would draw something, and then draw over it.

Overall, I’m immensely pleased with how these first sketches turned out. I think you can see the flow of the class and the way the discussion was happening—I would have liked to attribute more quotes to more folks, since the quotes and ideas came from more than one person.

I’m definitely going to invest in a super fine tipped Sharpie as well as my regular fine tipped ones, since while I had some good line weight in these sketches, I wished I had more precise sketches with more details.

As far as engagement goes, I was completely alert the whole class. I felt like I was playing with the discussion, turning it in my head into a format that I could easily understand. It’s definitely an awesome way to think about note taking, and something that I’m going to be doing more of in the future.

For those of you visual folks out there, take note—I mean—take graphic note. I’m a visual learner, and this exercise put into perspective some really important concepts from the class. They were easily digestible and fun to interpret!  I’m looking forward to doing more graphic recordings in the future.

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