Part 2 Graphic Facilitation to Engage Learners: More ideas and thoughts on use of graphics for learning

A vivid imagination compels the whole body to obey. – Aristotle

You can help people access hidden knowledge such as feelings, attitudes, and patterns that are difficult to express with words. When people are tired, their brains are full, and they have reached the limits of logical thinking, you can help them evoke ideas that lie outside logical, step-by-step understanding of what is possible. Stories about individual or group transformations can be told with five easy-to-draw symbols that have universal meanings. The playful spirit of drawing together signals that more is possible and many new answers are expected. Drawing Together cuts through the culture of overreliance on what people say and write that constrains the emergence of novelty. It also provides a new avenue of expression for some people whose ideas would otherwise not surface.” (Liberating Structures, n.d.)

The use of graphics to teach is much like the digital project I will soon be working on for my PIDP 3250 course. The distinct difference and beauty of graphic facilitation however is that is occurs spontaneously, as the conversation and learning is unfolding before your eyes. Check out this video for how Bigger Picture used graphic facilitation to engage its audience in a TEDx day… use your imagination and imagine how you can use these ideas in your classroom.

Here’s an inspiring TED X talk by Ole Qvist-Sorensen (2012) called Draw more together. I love his idea of having students at the end of a course create a drawing of what they learned. They can refer back to this visual and it can be shared with the next class’ students as inspiration.

I am imagining….

  • Helping my students build the skill of graphic facilitation. This can help them in their other classes as well, to anchor learning and help them study. I could do this by having the students create visual representations of their key words in their notes and in the group work they present to the larger class. I could have students at the end of class demonstrate their key learning through a diagram to hand in at the end of class either in pairs, small groups or individually. For simple ways to encourage it
  • Building community through getting to know one another, or through envisioning the future by creating a river of life. This is beautiful. River of life graphic facilitation image

    Image and idea from
  • World Cafes through graphics: This image from blog…jump starts an idea for me to integrate graphic facilitation into World Cafes. If you are not familiar with the World Café each table has a different question and each student group moves between each table at set intervals, starting by reading the question and what the previous group wrote and then adding to those ideas. The World Café could be represented as a visual diagram. At the end of class I would take a photo of it and post it online for students to look back at after class. Then they are asked to reflect on “what key learning will you take forward from this class activity?” They post their answers online in a discussion forum or they bring them to class to hand in at the beginning or we discuss them during class.
  • In a previous post I talked about the use of concept maps, so jumping off from this…integrating images within concept maps will further anchor those concepts. As I spoke about in my concept map blog post, in nursing we often have a very complex web of how the whole body interacts. Demonstrating this through graphics would be powerful. Both through me using graphic facilitation but also when students hand in their body maps they can use graphics to depict the connections and interactions. It’s funny because some of my students are naturally already doing this without even knowing it. No wonder those students are enjoying the process so much!
  • Visually represent the learning that occurred in the entire course through graphic facilitation. (This is a fantastic idea that Ole Qvist-Sorensen shared in his TED X talk above). Taking this idea and running with it…. I imagine doing this in small groups to allow for maximum participation and students could look at each other’s work after and perhaps see what they had forgotten. After that they could reflect further either in a written reflection, think-pair-share or in a large group discussion about what they learned by looking at each other’s images. A photo of all the images can be used as reference for students and it can be shared with the next class’ students as inspiration. Another way this could be done is by having the entire group brainstorm all the things they learned in the class and then point out together how the concepts all fit together. Again kind of like a concept map meets graphic facilitation.
  • Bored of using powerpoint in your classroom? I’m sure the students are too! There are other ways to engage the visual learners but in a more engaging way. Here is a link to some platforms to help you use graphics to engage learners in your classroom presentation. Remember keep it short because the adult attention span is waning . (Stay tuned for my upcoming digital project using one of these platforms for my final assignment for PIDP 3250). Other platforms:

These are all but a few ideas… do you have any of your own? I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to leave me a comment.

Here’s a photo of my first attempt at using graphic facilitation.  I tried it for taking notes of a TED X talk, which is a topic for my next Reflection.  I had 4 colours that I scrounged up out of my office drawer.   It was so easy and fun once I got going.  I’m sure it will get easier the more I practice. Graphic Facilitation effort 1




About turnera2014

I am a Nursing (RN) Instructor taking the Professional Instructor Diploma Program at Vancouver Community College in hopes to challenge my current teaching modalities and inspire me to be the best teacher I can be.
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