Preparing your #Sketchnotes

Note taking has taken on a whole new meaning for me since I started making Sketchnotes. For the uninitiated sketchnotes are all about.

If you haven’t already, I recommend you check out Mike Rohde’s Sketchnote Handbook.

If, like me, you want to sketch your notes at a conference or event, and worry about missing important details or not being ready, here’s a cheat-sheet for you.

  • Pens: Get your pens (including back-up pens if you think you’ll run out of ink) ready and somewhere you can easily get at them. Also worth keeping an eye on is where you can store them for easy access whilst you’re sketching – pocket, bag, table, etc. There’s nothing worse than dropping your pens, book, phone, etc. when you’re trying to pay attention. Try and use at least two colours, and be consistent in how you use them (shading, highlighting, etc.) across all your sketches.
  • Page-per-note: Prepare each page of your notebook with the details of the speaker and/or presentation. Include name, Twitter name, presentation title, etc. in your own design. This way you know what space you’re working with for the presentation, and who it is for. Be careful to make sure you check if titles change!

ALTC sketchnote

image source: ALT (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

  • Speed: If you think the presenter will go too quickly use a different notebook or page for rushed concepts and re-draw them later when you’ve got time. This is good practice and revision on whether you got the details of the talk you wanted to.
  • Upload/publish: If you publish your sketches to somewhere like Flickr then create your album before the event. This will make it easier to upload each sketch when you’re ready, and get a useable short URL from it when it’s published – e.g. https://flic.kr/p/neuoBj. It’s also worth mentioning here to make a note of what tags you’re going to use (and location) for each sketch.
  • Pre-tweet: Prepare a tweet with the correct hashtag and presenter name, and any other text you want to tweet. Leave space for the characters needed for the link to the photo.
  • Practice: Before the event, or when you have time, practice drawing basic shapes, faces, arrows, objects, stylised font and writing, icons, etc.

Mike Rohde

Image source: Mike Rohde (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

If you use something like Paper 53 or other digital sketching Apps on phones or tablets to sketch you can still prepare for the sketching and how/where you’ll publish them.

  • Time: Don’t try and sketchnote every talk, be selective about who and what you make notes of. I tend to sketch the keynotes or features speakers, and one or two key presentations that I want to keep a (detailed) record of, and generally make smaller, lighter notes of other talks and nuggets of information from other presenters. it also makes it easy to keep up with everything that’s going on.
  • Post-event: It’s now that I usually photo each sketch (maybe after a little more sketching to improve or fill in the gaps) and upload to Flickr (here are my ALTC sketches, and ones for BbTLC14). Try different locations and lighting for the photo, try to eliminate shadows and unnecessary borders in the photo around the page (not an issue if you sketch digitally).

Many of my friends now use sketchnotes (yes you, Sheila! Well done) or some form of note-taking at events now, and there are a whole multitude of different styles and approaches, all of them valid and wonderful. There is no right or wrong way to sketchnote, but a little preparation can help with doing it smoothly and without stress or worry about missing something.

PS. I can’t draw. I know I can’t, and it bugs me. My straight lines are not straight and my cats or dogs look like alien invaders worthy of being squashed in the most hideous ways imaginable. But that’s not the point: I like it, and I remember more of the meeting, event, or presentation than I used to. This is why I sketchnote! What about you?

If you want to try sketchnotes, or want to improve your sketches then I found two excellent activities from Kevin Thorne based on two TED Talks of your choice:

  1. Live Sketch the first talk. Just practice listening and sketching the notes and visual concepts. No starting over and no cleaning up afterward. If you make a mistake, try to incorporate it into the sketch…or just write “oops!”
  2. Post-Sketch the second talk. Again, try listening to the key points and concepts and sketch as much as you can. Try using some of the tips mentioned above during the live sketch. This time you’re allowed to go back and polish up the sketch. However, pretend you’re at a large conference and you may not have a lot of time. Keep the post-sketch time at a reasonable limit such as 10-15 minutes for each sketch.

Main image source: David Hopkins (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Day 3: Blackboard T&L Conference #BbTLC2014

Day 3 and the final day of the 2014 Blackboard Teaching & Learning Conference in Dublin. A few more sessions to keep us amused and awake, a few more strong cups of tea, and a fond farewell to Dublin & Blackboard.

Only a few sessions this morning, but a great opportunity for a few more sketchnotes.

Dan Hewes: Developing an exemplary course for Bb Mobile Learn

Dan Hewes #BbTLC2014

Sharon Flynn: Student as producer, developing a campus mobile App for students by students using Mosaic

Sharon Flynn #BbTLC2014

Sharon Flynn #BbTLC2014

Congratulations Sharon, your session was the first where I needed to use more than 2 pages!

If you’ve any comments, additions, or amendments then please leave a comment below.

If you want to use the sketchnotes then please remember to use the Creative Commons attribution to this blog entry and David Hopkins (CC BY-NC 3.0).

I’d also like to thank Blackboard and University College Dublin for organising such an excellent event, in a wonderful location and city. I also have to thank Blackboard for choosing me as the ‘creative selfie’ iPad winner! It’s all just a little laugh but still, thank you.

David Hopkins #BbTLC2014

David Hopkins #BbTLC2014

Day 2: Blackboard T&L Conference #BbTLC2014

Day 2 of the 2014 Blackboard T&L Conference started with the usual Bb roadmap, which I’ll leave for others to cover.

As with the sessions I followed yesterday I’ve continued to sketchnote my way through them, making notes of the ideas and concepts rather than the specifics of the detail and data. Here are my day two sketches:

Dan Hewes: Flip your class with Blackboard Learn

Dan Hewes #BbTLC2014

Jan Snijders: The Matrix, connecting worlds

Jan Snijders #BbTLC2014

Ted Hopper: Bridging the gap to the future of learning content

Ted Hopper #BbTLC2014

Sara Preston: Embedding Blackboard Collaborate in academic practice

Sara Preston #BbTLC2014

If you’ve any comments, additions, or amendments then please leave a comment below.

If you want to use the sketchnotes then please remember to use the Creative Commons attribution to this blog entry and David Hopkins (CC BY-NC 3.0).

Day 1: Blackboard T&L Conference #BbTLC2014

At the first day of the 2014 Blackboard T&L Conference I made a decision – tweet less, listen more, take/make meaningful notes, and enjoy the sessions for what they are, not what I wanted them to be.

To this end I am Sketchnoting my way through the sessions, and here are my sketchnotes for Day 1.

Keynote: Prof Stephen Heppell 

Prof Stephen Heppell #BbTLC2014

Brian Hipkin: The culture of ‘always on’ – how not to disengage in the age of engagement

Brian Hipkin #BbTLC2014

Gillian Fielding: ‘A room with a view’ for virtually anyone

Gillian Fielding #BbTLC2014

Kate Wright: Making more mobile – Aberystwyth University’s experience of implementing Mobile Learn

Kate Wright #BbTLC2014

If you want to use the sketchnotes then please remember to use the Creative Commons attribution to this blog entry and David Hopkins (CC BY-NC 3.0).

Blackboard T&L Conference, Dublin #BbTLC2014

Next week is the 2014 Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference in Dublin. The programme looks very comprehensive and has 6 streams in motion, which means it’s going to be very difficult to attend and cover all the sessions I want to attend – which means I’m going to have to be very selective about what, and who, I see.

Here’s my first impressions of what I will try and see -

Wednesday, April 30.

  • Keynote / Prof Stephen Heppell. I have met and talked with Prof Heppell on numerous occasions (at Learning Without Frontiers in 2011 and during my time working at Bournemouth University) and know that his unique perspective and style will make this keynote both interesting and hugely profound on the issues affecting education today. This is one session you do not want to miss. 
  • Track 3 / Brian Hipkin – ‘The Culture of ‘Always On – How not to disengage in the age of engagement’. If we’re to engage and keep the attention of the ‘always on’ student, then understanding them and their needs is important. This session will look at society’s use of social media and the challenges of using it.
  • Track 4 / Gillian Fielding – ‘Collaborate: “A room with a view” for virtually anyone’. Case studies are always more interesting and relevant to how I think, so this one from Salford should be good, looking at the strategic embedding of Collaborate across the institution.
  • Track 5 / Kate Wright – ‘Making More Mobile – Aberystwyth University’s Experience of Implementing Mobile Learn’. I’ve been trying to find examples of Bb Mobile Learn in use for a while (December 2013) and this might be the first time I see it in action and get to find out how & why they did it, as well as what the students think about it.

Thursday, May 1.

  • Track 2 / Jan Snijders – ‘The Matrix, connecting worlds’. Bb Implementation and use across a whole institution is never easy, so it’ll be interesting to hear how Avans University have achieved this, and how they’re taking it forward and integrating it into more than just the basic ‘file store/dump’ mentality.
  • Track 2 / Sara Preston – ‘Embedding Blackboard Collaborate in Academic Practice’. Using Bb Collaborate for more than just the basic ‘online presentation’ is key to utilising it’s vast capabilities, so hopefully the University of Aberdeen can share some practices (good and bad) at how to meet these challenges.
  • Track 3 / Lloyd Dean – ‘Using BlackBoard to Flip the classroom’. I have had conversations at Leicester about the flipped classroom, as well as delivering a workshop, so this will be interesting to hear how others are using and implementing the flipped approach, and whether the techniques can be replicated at Leicester.
  • Track 4 / Malcolm Murray – ‘Student voice: is honesty the best policy? Giving students control of TEL evaluations’. I met Malcolm for the first time at the 2013 Durham Bb Users Conference, so know this session will be informative and relevant, as well as being very pertinent to the conversations I’ve had around the issue of module and learning evaluations.

Friday, May 2.

  • Track 1 / Louise Thorpe – ‘Flipped, flexible and feedback: Blackboard client community group piloting Blackboard Collaborate to provide more engaging and innovative learning activities for on-campus students’. Collaboration for both campus and distance learning students is one everyone’s mind at the moment, with Bb Collaborate a solution being considered and investigated. This session will hopefully provide some insight into successful implementation both technically and pedagogically.
  • Track 3 / Sharon Flynn – ‘Student as Producer: Developing a campus mobile app for students by students using Mosaic’. I’ve followed Sharon’s work at Galway for a number of years, and enjoyed conversations in Twitter and in real life too, so I know this session will be informative, well presented, and very useful for any organisation looking to, or has already, implemented a campus App.
  • Track 1 / Jan-Willem van der Zalm – ‘Moving Your Mission-Critical Services to the Cloud’. Cloud services are becoming a big thing. Will this session address some of the issues and concerns universities have with this (including data protection?) or just be another sales pitch … ?

There are many more sessions I am interested in, but most are scheduled for the same time. I can only hope that bloggers like me will write up their notes and/or Bb will archive the presentations .. and maybe even record them too?

Blackboard Teaching & Learning Conference 2014 BbTLC2014