A while ago I saw a news report about these guys. They specialize on providing note takers for big events (usually speakers). The note takers try to produce an extended doodle that captures the essence of what’s spoken. I thought it was pretty cool, I remember someone in the report talking about how, for him, it really helped him internalize and synthesize information from presentations. He concentrated on finding images that connected to the material and found some non-linear ways to represent all(?) the information.
This weekend I’ve been at a conference all about upper-division physics curriculum, and in the last session I thought I’d give this technique a try. I did it for a couple different presentations, but I purposely chose to do it for Melissa Dancy’s on the research about why PER ideas are slow to disseminate. I wanted to do it for her because I was sitting next to her and I wanted to show her what I created. She got a kick out of it, and I thought I’d post here both what I did and what I thought about the process.
I have to say that it was really fun to do it. I used a bunch of stick figures and some drawings along with the occasional keywords. What I really liked is how I 1) concentrated like crazy, but 2) didn’t feel stressed or exhausted doing it. I really liked how I had to come up with a cool/funny/informative/whatever way to represent something, often trying to connect the new idea to the existing doodle. Of course, OneNote and its infinite page size and ease of changing pen colors really helped, along with my super cool Surface Pro (I promise I’ll stop promoting that one of these days).
There were some times when I felt like just writing out a sentence would have worked just as well (or better) but I wanted to really give the doodling a chance.
Having tried it, I think I might try it some more about meetings etc. We’ll see, but I’m pretty excited about how it got my brain to engage in a different way. I’m really curious if any of you think this might be good to encourage students to do it.
Side note about technology: I had my Surface out for nearly the whole conference, mostly taking notes in OneNote in full-screen mode, but admittedly occasionally checking email etc. What was interesting is that I think I appeared more engaged with the conference than I would have been using the keyboard (as opposed to the stylus). My screen was flat to the table, not blocking anyone’s view of my pretty face. I only used one hand to take notes, though I’m not sure if that’s meaningful. It’s interesting how many people have talked to me about the recent study showing how laptop note-taking seems not to really help people. I felt that my Surface enabled me to take digital (and thus easily saved, searched, not lost etc) notes in a format that is incredibly flexible (handwriting/doodling) while maintaining the ability to do other things too (yes, I’m talking about checking email :)
So what do you think? Here’s some starters for you:
- This is cool! Could you come to a meeting with me on …
- This is dumb. Melissa (or whomever) can just post her slides and you could fully engage without writing anything.
- This is cool. Here’s how I do something similar . . .
- This is dumb. I can’t figure out anything from those notes. I bet you won’t be able to either after a few days.
- This is cool. What would it be like to lecture like this?
- This is dumb. I don’t know how to draw.
- Wait, you didn’t mention how Mathematica played a part.
- I’m Melissa and I think this was really cool because . . .
- I’m Melissa and I’m mortified that this post exists because . . .
- You’re using technology, so the study about laptop notetaking applies directly to you.