Visual Practice

As a closet doodler most of my life I was enthralled to learn that note taking through drawing is not only a practice but an evidence-based accepted practice filled with amazing people working in the field.

To take my visual notes I use an iPad, a pogo stylus and AutoDesk Sketchbook Pro.

This 4 minute video gives a quick summary of how I use visual practice in my work to plan, organize, teach, and learn.

In 2011 I submitted the following “essay” to UnPlug’d about Why Doodling Matters.

Why Doodling Matters

As Temple Grandin says, “the world needs all kinds of minds.” and some of those minds “think in pictures”.

Doodling is a form of external thought that allows you to visualize the connections you are making while thinking. In the conscious mind, doodling can assist concentration and focus but even in the unconscious mind, while doodling and day dreaming connections are made.

As Steven Johnson says, the “mind’s primordial soup” can lead to “serendipitous collisions of creative insight”.

Doodling has allowed connections to be made between people and ideas, the magical space between.

These aspects can lead to better problem solving. By sharing my thinking through visual means, my most important connections have been to people, by way of sharing my perceptions of their ideas, presentations and words back to them.

I just love Sunni Brown, Doodlers Unite! TED Talk on doodling. She’s hilarious and a great champion for doodling. She has a great new book, Doodle Revolution

All my drawings are released under Creative Commons and are available on my Flickr stream.

These are two of my most popular drawings:

Visual Notes of Honourable John Yap’s announcement at #opened12


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Giulia Forsythe

What is a MOOC?


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Giulia Forsythe

So Exactly How do I do my notes?

I use an iPad + AutoDesk Sketchbook Pro app + pogo stylus.
I learned pretty much everything from Rachel Smith’s site and a lot of practice!
Visual Recording on the iPad
Visual Recording on the iPad from Flickr Stream by Rachel Smith, DigitalFacilitation.net.

See Rachel’s Flickr Photostream

For more inspirational resources, see: Nancy White, Full Circle Associates and Nancy’s Flickr Stream

Workshops & Presentations


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Giulia Forsythe

TEDxUSagradoCorazon

Visual Practice for Teaching and Learning Resources, presented to Teacher Education candidates at Brock and UPEI. [online]

Visual Practice for Teaching Assistants, Brock University Teaching Assistant Orientation. St.Catharines. September 2013

Visual Practice at Society for Teaching Learning in Higher Education, Montreal. June 2012

Visual Practice at Canadian Association University Student Services, St.Catharines. June 2012

Visual Note taking on the iPad at MooseCamp Northern Voice, June 2012


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Nancy White

Learning by Design. University of Mary Washington Faculty Academy, Fredericksburg, VA. May 2012


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

Narrative Representations of Teaching and Learning, Educational Developers Caucus. Halifax. February 2012

Facilitator, small group peer edit UnPlug’d, August 2012

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Andrew Forgrave

11 thoughts on “Visual Practice

  1. Pingback: Social Artists … ends up being about mooc design #change11 #socialartist « Learning in the workplace

  2. Pingback: How DS106 Changed My Life | gforsythe.ca

  3. Pingback: Learning by Design: Sketchnoting in DS106 | gforsythe.ca

  4. Philip Cummings

    This is fascinating work, Giulia. I’m so grateful that Royan shared your work with me and that you have shared all these wonderful resources. Actually, I was in a parent conference today discussing a student’s need for help with note-taking and it occurred to me that he might benefit from sketch-noting. I cannot wait to share this with my students. Thank you!

  5. Pingback: Just Doodle It! « A Retrospective Saunter

  6. Trish

    ah the magic of ds106 continues. so glad to have been connected to you through ds106 and especially to have seen this. a born doodler, i abandoned it long ago because i thought it indicated lack of focus and rigor in notetaking/thinking. after reading/watching this i’ve got pens, pencils, and paper all spread out before me ready to work on ds106 and other projects. thanks giulia!!

  7. Pingback: More Learning from MOOCs that Matter #ds106 #etmooc

  8. Pingback: Learning about Visual Notetaking from Giulia Forsythe » Playing with Media

  9. Pingback: Moving at the Speed of Creativity | Learning about Visual Notetaking from Giulia Forsythe

  10. Pingback: Astounding act of sharing non-astounding practice

  11. Pingback: Giulia | TEDxUSagradoCorazón

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *