The first of two seriously fun events, VizEd:Going Visual in Post-Secondary Education was held on February 21st, hosted by BCcampus and facilitated by Tracy Kelly and Nancy White. The workshop brought educators and facilitators from across the province together to unlock new learning pathways through visual language; no artistic ability required.

Nervous laughter and the faint scent of Mr. Sketch markers filled the room, and more than a few nose tips were dotted with colour from sneaking a sniff of the grape, liquorice, and cherry aromas. Surrounded by huge sheets of blank white paper, participants at the VizEd workshop at SFU Harbour Centre started out excited to learn, and, in some cases, unsure about their drawing skills.

One goal of the workshop was to provide the participants with new tools and fresh ideas to engage others “beyond words”. This was the first time BCcampus hosted this large of an event of this type, and while the logistics posed new challenges – finding enough drawing surfaces for a sold-out audience – the event team and volunteers managed to make it happen.

Make a beautiful mess

The first activity was ‘I Can Draw’, which invited participants to step up to a giant piece of paper and overcome their inner critic. “It’s about starting by making a giant, beautiful mess through experimenting and discovering what your drawing tools can do,” said Tracy Kelly, Senior Manager, Learning & Teaching at BCcampus. “And we build from there – realizing as we go that because our brains are meaning-making machines, we only ever have to draw a “good enough” version of things to communicate effectively, as Jeannel King teaches. We also experience how drawing large on walls is a multimodal experience – it gets us away from the table and moving our body, which is energizing for all, and particularly helpful for some learners and thinkers.”

Throughout the workshop, participants drew squiggly birds, made meaning from symbols, and practiced various forms of graphic recording to capture meaning. At the end of the day, as participants were winding down and thinking of ways to implement this within their own domains and institutions, many expressed their gratitude for the refreshing change of pace of the session: it was a learning experience and it was a welcome creative break.

Keep learning

To build on the foundation developed during the workshop, participants are encouraged to keep practicing. Watch Ted talks and “sketchnote” them. Follow the graphic recording and Sketchnote boards on Pinterest, offer to capture meetings – anything to keep working at it. The skills developed in this workshop are also useful outside the classroom, in group facilitation sessions and other places where creative note taking can lead to improved discussion and the genesis of new strategies. You can also sign up for the BCcampus newsletter to be notified when and where the next Visual Practice session will take place.

Notable quotes:

“I really needed this day; the opportunity to create without rules is empowering.” ~attendee

“I love that this [graphic recording] is a thing!’ ~ attendee

“This workshop is designed for a group of people to play and learn together, to develop their practice in graphic recording and facilitation in the context of group processes.” ~ Nancy White, facilitator

“You don’t have to be good at drawing – this isn’t art. It’s a tool for communication” ~ Tracy Kelly, BCcampus Senior Manager, Learning & Teaching

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