Digital Graphic Facilitation at BC Campus

By | October 26, 2012

I was excited and honoured to be invited by BC Campus to be a graphic facilitator at their Open Educational Resources Forum (#OERforum) last week.

When they first asked for me to be a graphic facilitator, of course I immediately said yes but I also felt a bit of trepidation as I have never done graphic facilitation before.

I mean my job title includes Facilitator and I have facilitated numerous sessions here at my university and at conferences. I am not unfamiliar with group processes, conversation flow, organizing and planning sessions. Though I must admit, facilitation is a skill that always needs improvement, especially because it is subject to so many variables ranging from the type of session, the personalities in the crowd, even external factors like food, weather, even lighting can affect group dynamics. That is why I take every opportunity to learn from those who are great facilitators and to try new things when they come my way.

As for the Graphics part, I have been doodling conferences keynotes and session for a while now and recently gave a workshop at the Society for Teaching Learning in Higher Education conference last spring. Taking visual notes help me stay engaged and focused.

So, yes, I can doodle and I can facilitate but I had not quite merged visual practice into my facilitation to the point where I’d call myself a graphic facilitator.

I have made small inroads towards this goal.

When I asked specifically if BC Campus wanted graphic facilitation or what I usually do (visual notetaking), Leva was really accommodating and quickly modified the agenda to reflect that I’d be visual recording instead.

Here is a quick-not-to-scale doodle of the room layout:

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe

I sat off to the side with my iPad connected to a projector and as I drew, my work was projected behind me (zooming and all). This is where paper probably has an advantage for the audience because they can see the big picture at all times. Using the iPad showed only what I saw. As a bit of a technical aside, I have a first generation iPad which means that the display is not mirrored. This was definitely a good thing for this purpose because the audience only saw my brush strokes not the menu items nor tools.

David Wiley kicked off the forum with his keynote: Why Open Education? (Actually his official title was Openness in education: from ideals to outcomes, which I abbreviated in my visual way)

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe

I took visual notes and I was glad David used so many visual metaphors, especially how we can use copyright to our advantage much like a jiu jistu fighter uses the strength of his opponent to set him off kilter (bottom left of drawing).

What happened next surprised but delighted me. Paul Stacey asked me to review and share my notes with the crowd. I was a bit nervous at first but the process was actually quite fun. I told the group how I use the images as memory anchors to parts of a talk. It surprises me a bit when I review the notes how much I do remember, only triggered by the image I used to represent the idea.

David’s session was followed by round table discussions. Paul created the framework with some guiding questions and the groups used the local install of BC Campus’ collaborative document creator etherpad. Sylvia Currie facilitated online in twitter and in the etherpad.

As the group gave their feedback, I recorded it. It was nice to have so many sources of additional information to double check my work.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe

This was followed by a panel that included Brian Lamb from Thompson Rivers University, Alan Davis from Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Cable Green from Creative Commons.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe
Brian did an excellent job of detailing the amazing things happening in the province of British Columbia. This should not be understated. There is some great innovation, sharing and excellent work that is happening already in BC.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe
Alan Davis discussed as a president the important role he has in change management. He talked about the long standing ideological stance that technology integration into university represents corporate interests and how his role is to facilitate the positive use of technology for better engagement. This was echoed slightly in the round table discussions about faculty buy-in through incentives, education and professional development.

Finally Cable Green talked about the importance of using policy at the governmental level to leverage open and how this can improve access and reduce costs overall. This resonated with the #OpenEd12 keynote by Carolina Rossini earlier that day. Policies are by people and people need to insist that policies work for the better good of people.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe
Cable urged everyone to tap into existing resources. How often funding goes to building from scratch when there are already a great many resources to use already. Why not try and build it up even higher, especially considering the states of Washington and California have also launched progressive policies for open textbooks.

The whole Open Education conference was launched by the Open Textbook announcement of Minister John Yap which gave the open movement a bit more momentum heading into the OER Forum. I have a mixed bag of feelings about textbooks, in general, but for the most part, I think this is a great initiative.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe

Paul led a final round of discussions. I recorded their feedback and Paul asked me to again share my notes to the group

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe

I gave a quick summary of what I heard where some key take-aways. Feeding back key points to a group is basically a first step towards graphic facilitation, so in a sense I do feel that I did move a bit out of my visual recorder comfort zone into graphic facilitation. I received some good feedback from the participants that it was helpful and kind of like a sportscaster football “play-by-play”.

I really appreciate the opportunity to try something new in addition to the genuine warmth and encouragement I received from Paul Stacey (Creative Commons) and the fine folks at BC Campus- Dave Porter, Paul Stacey, Leva Lee, Scott Leslie and Sylvia Currie.

I hope I get a chance to try this again soon!

10/30/12 UPDATE: BC Campus #OER FORUM Recordings & Summary now online

6 thoughts on “Digital Graphic Facilitation at BC Campus

  1. Michael Branson Smith

    I’m so glad you placed yourself in the room in the first slide. Since everyone was watching the doodle live did you draw yourself first to identify yourself? Was that the only talk you visually facilitated with your live screen displayed?

    I’m really interested in that idea of a live displayed visual translation of a talk. It oddly reminds me of someone signing a talk. Someone who signs does their best to reflect the words and intentions of the speaker as accurately as they can.

    But a ‘visual transcription’ requires another level of interpretation. You mentioned with David Wiley’s talk you used ‘images a memory anchors.’ And I bet many others do too, but they don’t necessarily think to take notes of these anchors by drawing them. Instead they sadly translate the visual to text.

    Think about it how most would think it is strange to ask someone to play the role of a visual transcriber of a conversation. And think about how through many a class, grade school to college we’d doodle for the duration of a classroom lecture. And think about how for thousands of years on the walls of caves this was how history was recorded.

    Giulia you’re a rockin’ digital cavewoman. I love it all so much.

  2. Giulia Post author

    @MBS, Thanks as always for the encouragement. that’s a pretty awesome compliment, “rockin’ digital cavewoman” – I like it. I’ve always considered visual notetaking as a form of translation to be sure, but I never thought of it akin to signing. It makes perfect sense! If we think about it, that’s perhaps what PowerPoint – images & text is meant to do for a presenter but we lost our way in the bullets. I’m all for bringing the intentional doodle into the classroom, since the real sense-making requires the listener to do something with the information.

  3. Sylvia Currie

    The highlight for me was when you shared your notes — did that on-the-fly walk through for everyone. I thought about how difficult that would have been without the visuals, and the concentration it takes to create them. I mean if you’re listening but not drawing, would you be able to do such a detailed recap? (I would have said duuuuuuuuhhhh) You remembered what the speaker said AND what you were thinking as they said it. In case I haven’t told you already, you are pretty darn amazing!

  4. Nancy White

    FABULOUS recap (and as always, great visuals.) Your comment about how visual increase our ability to offer summaries is resonant with my experiences. In fact, I say they help us “tell the story” of an event, not only in the room, but to others not there (and often in a way that the visual alone doesn’t do.) Brava!

  5. Sacha Chua

    That’s fantastic! I love the colour in your drawings. =) I’m delighted to hear that you rocked the conference. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Giulia Post author

    Thanks for dropping by Sacha. I just love your work too. It’s really cool you are so close, just up the QEW. I hope we can meet in person someday and sketchnote together! You seem to go to some awesome events!

Leave a Reply

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