Last year I taught an online statistics course for high school students. The text we used was also online, but it was designed for college students and was not well-written. The second semester of that course coincided with my burgeoning interest in sketchnoting, so I decided to bring that interest into our virtual classroom. I wanted to see if students could use sketchnoting as a tool to decode, process, and better remember the information in the text.
I started by having my students watch Sunni Brown’s TED Talk on doodling. Then I showed them some sample sketchnotes (my own crude and simple ones, as well as those of more practiced sketchnoters). With that, I let them have at it. Here are a few examples of my students’ sketchnotes:
I should point out that these are some of the better examples. I had students continue sketchnoting for a few more chapters, and then I gave them a survey. The first prompt: ‘I enjoyed taking sketchnotes while reading the textbook.’ The response: 20% strongly agree, 60% neutral, 20% strongly disagree [note: we had a small sample size – just 12 in the class, and only five took this optional survey]. I attribute this lack of enjoyment to a lack of interest in the text itself.
What I found more interesting was the response to the prompt: ‘I found that taking sketchnotes aided in my learning.’ Response: 20% strongly agree, 60% agree, 20% disagree. So it seems that even if they didn’t particularly enjoy sketchnoting the textbook, they did find that it helped them learn.
I want to continue exploring the use of sketchnotes in the K-12 classroom. With the ever-increasing sketchnoting community, and resources such as The Sketchnote Handbook, it will only become easier to get students excited about this way of processing information and give them the tools to help them develop this useful skill.