Drawing in Research

I’m giving a webinar for the PHC Knowledge Translation Community of Practice today and wanted to jot down a few notes as a companion. Many of the activities I have included were used in my Going Visual workshops at SFU. For the sake of this session, I am revising them below. The title of the webinar is…

“Drawn to Your Research: Using Visuals to Improve Academic and Non-Academic Presentations”, will guide participants through a series of fun drawing exercises designed to amplify your visual literacy. No previous drawing experience is required, only a willingness to make your marks!

Visual Practice

I must clarify first what I will mean by “presentations”.  It could in fact be a powerpoint presentation that you are working in which, many researches would be used to. But for the sake of this session I will widen the scope of presentation to anytime you are telling the story of your research, whether that be in the boardroom, the classroom or elevator. You may in fact find yourselves presenting your research on the back of the proverbial napkin, and if so, this workshop is intended directly for you.

Drawing, and more specifically drawing comics has been making headway in academia lately. In my world of teaching and learning, we use it to help synthesize ideas for the classroom, but in the research world the audience and the time you have with them can be much more diverse, and unpredictable. Regardless of audience, there is something much more approachable about a quick doodle or sketch compared to a graph, diagram or white paper. Case in point Jorge Cham (PHD comics) and Daniel Whiteson have teamed up to bring us  We Have No Idea a collection of comics dedicated to answering some of sciences toughest problems, in a comic book format.

So many ideas, a sketchnote

Continue reading “Drawing in Research”

Drawn to Comics: An instructional outline

I had the chance last week to work with one of the SFU Educational Consultants on presenting an introduction to pedagogy for a group of Communications grad students. We took the opportunity to get out of our comfort zone.  I was lucky to work with the talented Sarah Turner, from our Teaching centre and designed an educational development mashup of sorts, combining the best of pedagogical practice with drawing and comic book design.

I guess word has been getting our around on campus as I have been pushing my going visual workshops, and offering them “on demand” for grad students and various class drop in sessions. These are typically focussed on the particulars of drawing in an educational context, and there are many directions the conversations go. For this session I was approached to do the same, but our audience in this case a young group of emergent PHD students, all of which needed ideas on how to incorporate these activities into their teaching and learning, and use them in a pedagogically sound manner.

For this workshop we wanted to go a step further than the regular Going Visual syllabus and incorporate some actual technology into the mix, that being an ipad and Comic Book app.  We borrowed this idea from another great mentor of mine, Dr. Jessica Motherwell and colleague from the JIBC Krista Lambert in a presentation they did at the Sketching in Practice Symposium this year called “Using Comics to rehearse best practices“.  Jessicas resources are openly shared and she encourages this kind of appropriation. And I really wanted to make the outline of our session in a comic book form!

I’m quite pleased with the way it turned out, and will be looking to do similar projects using this technique. It gave a chance to build a story around our session as well as convey the basic topics we were planning to cover.