Stop doodling at the back! It’s a familiar refrain in classrooms all over the world – well, until recently. Many educators are now understanding the true power of the thoughtful doodle, or as it is officially known, sketchnoting.
So what is sketchnoting, what are the benefits and how can you use Kami to get your classroom sketching?
What is sketchnoting?
In its bare-bones form sketchnoting is simply visual notetaking. While reading, or listening to a peer or teacher, students are encouraged to visualize their thoughts and jot images, alongside labels and sentences, into their notes. These doodles should be relevant to the information in question, but the doodler is free to pick an image that best conjures up the essence of the information for them.
After being inspired by @atechcoachlife's sketchnoting by hand, I decided @usekamiapp would be my tool of choice to give it a try digitally. I have literally never sketchnoted before, but I found it a great way to engage with and document the content from this training. pic.twitter.com/VPVGoW7yPU
— Estee Williams (@EsteeEducates) February 18, 2019
Sketchnoting can look very pretty, but it is a misconception to view it as an art project. The aim is to combine different learning functions to better support information retention as well as core understanding.
The idea is that the more active engagement students can have with information the better. So passively listening to a lecture is less effective than taking notes. Adding visuals to those notes further enhances the process and gets more of the brain involved.
The brilliance of sketchnoting lies in its accessibility and almost universal benefit. Learners who are naturally less inclined to think visually can benefit from pushing themselves to expand this skill. Visual learners can find it a blessing to finally express themselves in the form that is most natural to them. It is also a good tool for engaging those with more complex learning challenges. Sketchnoting offers a freedom of expression which can allow those with learning difficulties like dyslexia to use their big picture thinking, or simply make it easier for educators to spot areas of misunderstanding.
What are the benefits of sketchnoting?
We have long known the power of pictures over words. Demonstrating concepts through diagrams rather than long paragraphs of text is a regular technique in science classrooms. Sketchnoting simply brings this truism into other areas of learning. So what are the key benefits of sketchnoting:
- Improves memory of concepts: Sketchnoting uses both the verbal and visual input channels of the memory. This increases the likelihood of retaining information.
- Improves concept understanding: Creating visual concepts to sum up information is not a passive task. It requires deep thinking and a good understanding of the material. Pushing students to do this helps them better understand the content while also making noting and annotating a thinking intensive task.
- Improves concentration: Sketchnoting is an absorbing activity and requires full concentration. Combining doodles with listening can help focus everyone.
- Offers flexibility of expression: Students are able to choose which images resonate most with them so they can truly engage with their notes and learn best from them. This can be really helpful for students who think best non-linguistically or who may struggle with the language.
- Helps identify misunderstanding: Written answers can sometimes be vague or merely copied. Sketchnotes by contrast truly represent a student’s understanding of a topic. This can help educators get a better grasp of who is understanding the topic and what needs more explanation.
- It can reduce stress: Anyone who has been absorbed in a drawing can identify the specific sense of calm and focus it inspires. Embracing this mindset into notetaking can be very relaxing for your class.
Day 4 – Action in your classroom or school. I have a day off today. This picture is from yesterday at the start of our 2nd lesson on Sketchnoting. Ss started their Doodle Dictionaries. I used Kami (@usekamiapp) to insert a picture and draw around it #12DaysOfTwitter @KimWaters_ pic.twitter.com/5qnNyEWWlo
— Eve Heaton (@atechcoachlife) December 6, 2018
Sketchnoting for remote learning
Sketchnoting was initially developed as an in-classroom tool, but it has many benefits and applications in a remote learning environment. Sketchnoting can be used to improve effective understanding of:
- Online lessons/lecture videos: Many schools are now putting their lessons online or even on national television. To prevent simply creating a passive listening experience, which will be easily forgotten or worse…not really listened to at all, students can produce sketchnotes to demonstrate their understanding.
- Independent reading: A lot of course reading will now have to be completed independently rather than under the guidance of an educator. Getting students to sketchnote as they read will help them to engage with the text and also show educators how effectively they have understood the material.
- Annotating texts: Sketchnoting annotations can help increase engagement with the meanings behind the text and introduce another element of thinking to a traditional task.
How to use Kami for sketchnoting
Kami can be used for digital sketchnoting on any device. The array of tools can be used to start sketching on a blank page, or any existing document file, even a PDF.
Tools to sketchnote in Kami:
- The Drawing tool: Harness all your freehand creativity with the Drawing tool. This works particularly well with a digital pencil on a touch screen device. You can choose the color, thickness, and transparency of your brush.
- Shapes: Build diagrams using exact shapes. With the Shapes Tool, you can choose from squares, triangles, circles or lines and make them whatever size, color or transparency you like. Get as creative as you want!
- Image: For those who want to draw sketching inspiration, you can insert a diagram on to your Kami sheet by simply selecting the image tool at the bottom of the toolbar. You can then select the location of your file (choose from Google Drive, your device or a Google Image safe search), then select the desired image and it will appear on your document.
- Markup (text highlighter): Highlight certain labels or explanations with the Highlighter Tool to color coordinate your work. Click on the Markup tool and select text Highlighter along with the appropriate color. Then simply highlight the text you wish to.
- Text boxes: To add notes and labels to your sketches you can use the Text Box Tool. Simply click the Text Box icon and then click the location on the page where you want to type.
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