Posts Tagged: #sketchnotes

#gafesummit Vancouver 2015 sketchnotes

Changing the education question from “What is…?” to “What if…?

Some quick sketchnote captures at the the Apple Education Leadership Institute last week.

My favourite line of the event, for the way it drops the full weight of what we do on our shoulders: “…the way we design our classrooms today will ultimately define our future…”

John Couch

apple eli

More sketchnotes on my Pinterest page.

Software is eating the (education) world. #100convos

Software s eating the world, says a16z’s Ben Horowitz, yet you can’t get the innovation you need for your business from tier one software vendors. The reason, he explains, is that the VC/startup environment has fragmented the industry creating problems of proliferation, scale, viability and incompleteness.

I see the same thing in education. We’re searching for a new student information system and so far we’ve found no fewer than 17 offerings. Yet, despite the proliferation, they lack localization. Generally, education software from big vendors is too generic and the companies that make them assume all schools work the same, or at least they’re having to pitch to the widest possible market. This creates two problems:

  1. Schools have to make administrative work arounds and these have knock on effects that create inefficiencies. Our SIS for example, doesn’t handle our complex bell schedule so teachers sometimes have to take attendance manually.
  2. More importantly, when schools buy an off-the-shelf program they are also buying into a pedagogy, one that may not align with their actual practice

On the other hand, software from smaller vendors, which tend to be more flexible, aren’t scaling. The education market is huge. Canadian school boards spend $53-billion and the US–get this–spends a staggering $1.3-trillion. Yet, there is no focussed allocation for the development of software that might improve business. Instead, education seems to wait to be handed software developed by someone else. If Horowitz is right and software is eating the world, this is a significant problem. It’s a bit head-n-the-sand.

Horowitz’s solution is to create a business that curates solutions for you. I wonder if a group of similar-thinking schools, which incidentally could be geographically widely distributed, couldn’t form a curator/brokerage of sorts–the International Baccalaureate schools come to mind as they are a large body of like minded schools with common pedagogy and curricula. Alas, budgets are held to high and need to be pushed down closer to the users–schools–before this can happen.

I don’t know how we get the money out of existing budgets to do this. I do know that the big change in education won’t come from the classroom use of technology. It will come from the administrative use of technology.


buying innovation

Best pro-d of the past 12 months: a16z Tech Summit #100convos #pd

Last fall I was fortunate to attend a Andreessen Horowitz’s TechSummit 2013, a gathering of some very forward thinking people and companies, in Sausalito, California. I mean no slight to the excellent education conferences I’ve attended, but it was refreshing get outside my field and see what other professions are doing with technology.

I get that in education our “product” is different and we are not manufacturing or selling like the companies that came to the a16z Tech Summit. Nevertheless, I came away thinking that education is five to ten years behind in using technology strategically. We have so far spent our time and money on developing a pretty rich conversation around the classroom, or tactical, use of technology. But, however innovative that is, it hasn’t called on us to make any substantive change to the way we conduct our business. The big structures of education remain largely untouched whereas business is creating new models.

I am not suggesting education blindly adopt everything I saw at the Tech Summit. I do, however, find myself asking questions like, Could the GitHub model form a pedagogy? Tests give us the equivalent of transactional data–what would gain from having the same volume behavioural data that Facebook or Amazon have? What might a cloud-based continuous user experience look like in education? What does a mobile eco-system look like in education?

I’ll be posting my sketchnotes and questions over the next week or so. All the sketchnotes are also archived on my Pinterest board, Sketch Notes. Feedback is very welcome.

First up, some opening remarks from Ari Emanuel. The writer is king again, he says, and the channels for distributing his content are changing dramatically. My questions:

  1. Where do we get to if we substitute “student” for writer? Or “teacher” for writer? (I’m oversimplifying to make a point here, but teachers deliver curricula, they don’t write it.)  Alexis O’Hanian’s Without Their Permission touches the same discussion.
  2. Are distribution channels dramatically changing in education, too? Distance ed models and MOOCs etc. are interesting but haven’t penetrated that far yet. What does a new delivery model look like?

Ari Emanuel at ah16z Tech Summit

First thoughts on @FiftyThree’s fantastic new #Mix

With FiftyThree’s new Mix launch today I am already starting to think how might I draw my sketchnotes in such a way that I am not merely sharing them–I’ve been doing that for a while on Pinterest–but so I am actually inviting collaboration. I mean, how would I capture a keynote presentation, for example, while leaving room for others to add their sketches?

It’s more challenging than it sounds: I can easily capture what I learn from the keynote and almost as easily leave room for what I know I don’t know–a point I missed or term that needs defining or elaborating, for example. But how do I leave room for what I don’t know I don’t know–those infamous unknown unknowns? Where do I leave space? I think that instead of seeing my notes as a sort of record, I have to see them as an invitation. What does that look like?

I don’t even have to answer that question to appreciate how it shifts our idea of knowledge itself from something like a collection of discrete facts, passed on like objects, to something that is much fuzzier and uncertain and malleable, and socially constructed.


Maeda on Gardner

@JohnMaeda sent this out Sep. 16. How do I draw a set of notes that says I am interested? If I captured notes as questions, would that work? That’s an interesting idea, now that I think about it: what if we asked students (and ourselves) to write questions, instead of the usual trivial data they capture. I will try that and post the outcome.

Sketchnote Primer

The how-to video I made for the Apple Distinguished Educator Global Institute in San Diego, July 2014.

A number of colleagues asked if they could use it in their classrooms–by all means! I have just two things to ask in return:

  1. credit for the video and,
  2. if you introuce the idea to your students let me know. A colleague and I are setting up some research to see how sketchnoting works in schools and I’d be grateful if you’d let us know how you are using it.


How to draw better sketchnotes


early sketchnote

Here’s what my sketchnotes looked like when I first picked up Paper from @FiftyThree, tow years ago.

Here’s what I’m doodling these days


I’m sharing this for two reasons:

  1. To show that anyone can learn to draw. When I run a sketchnote workshop a number of people will say to me, “You can sketchnote because you can draw.” Well, that’s true, but it is a learned skill. The most liberating thing I did was to start posting my drawings on social media. I had to get rid of a vicious internal editor, you know, that voice that says, “You’re not good enough,” “She’s better than you.”  It wasn’t until I trashed that troll that I could start to get better at drawing.
  2. To show the value of keeping a journal of some sort. I have a shelf of paper journals and diaries (I currently carry two everywhere, one  for logging my day and one thinking) and a growing collection of material archived on the web, such as the Simple Diary of My Days, my Wunderkammern and, for my sketchnotes, my Pinterest board. The timescale of day-to-day is too short to see changes that come incrementally, like skill development. So it’s satisfying to open a diary, analog or digital, and see that maybe I’m not great but I am certainly better than I was two years ago. A diary is good insurance against being too hard on ourselves.

Oh, and if you were wondering how to draw mechanically speaking, get a copy of Mike Rohde’s, Sketchnote Handbook, Even without my troll I still certainly needed some instruction and Rohde’s book was the one I found most useful. I return to it often.

sketchnote handbook

How to make a slide deck using @fiftythree’s Paper app (updated)

What I carry in my bag.

Sketch Books