4 Things I’ll Be Changing After a Course in Multimedia

For context, I currently teach 6-7th grade computers.  I’m likely going to be looking very closely at 4th-7th grade computer curriculum in the near future – the  scope and sequence of our required computer courses.  These are the years we teach computers to all students.  They can elect to take courses like Web Design and AP Computer Science in the high school, but the 4th-7th grade courses are the ones we use to develop computer literacy that will be helpful for all students.  All of my students have devices, and I deliver a lot of instruction online.  However, the students complete all coursework in class.  Delivering content online allows students to complete activities at different paces, but working in a face-to-face classroom allows students to help each other and work in design teams for some projects.  It also allows me to keep them on task and make verbal clarifications regarding instructions.  I think it’s the perfect learning environment.  It’s also really important that I make wise choices about what multimedia content I include in my courses because it is such a big part of my class.

  1. Use more faded worked examples. I am working to develop a library of how-to videos that I can use to instruct students.  There are units in my 7th grade class in which almost 100% of the instruction comes from videos that I have made.  I believe that videos are going to be really helpful as I work toward a cohesive 4th-7th scope and sequence because there are always new students who have not learned a specific task.  Having a video of the instruction allows those students to catch up quickly and independently as necessary.  The idea of a faded worked example is new to me and I look forward to using it to increase student learning from my how to videos.
  2. Be more intentional about promoting far transfer.  The idea of making sure to give examples in a variety of contexts makes a lot of sense in my computer classroom.  I believe this way of thinking can help prepare my students to apply what they are learning in a new application that may not even exist yet.  I think that by giving examples in a variety of applications that do exist, I can prepare them for future applications.  I’m thinking specifically about a blog portfolio project.  I currently teach the students how to create a blog using one platform.  I hope they transfer the skills to other WYSIWIG systems.  But what if I am intentional in the curriculum about developing WYSIWIG skills in a variety of platforms so they can see how it is similar and different in a variety of contexts?
  3. Implement multimedia principles in my instruction about slideshows.  I have known that it’s generally a good idea to avoid using a large volume of words and distracting pictures in slideshows, but I appreciate having research-based principles that I can recommend to my students and also to share with my fellow teachers.  I find that often students are asked to create presentations for other classes and the requirements violate good multimedia principles.  I look forward to helping my students understand how to make better presentations and also how my teachers can support them in this endeavor.
  4. Apply multimedia principles when creating and selecting instructional media.  I think multimedia is a helpful tool for instruction in many disciplines.  As the multimedia principle states, it helps people learn better if used well.  Tools like Google Classroom or YouTube and email make it easy for teachers to provide multimedia learning experiences that face to face students can rewatch as necessary.  I am excited to have a framework to help me make decisions about which multimedia to use.  When I started teaching I was excited if I found a video at all that related to my content.  Now I can find multiple videos on popular content and I can make them myself.  By looking at principles of coherence, modality, personalization, contiguity, and redundancy I believe I will be able to weed out many options.  When taking the time to make a video, I can make choices that align with these principles and know that my efforts are not in vain.

Faded Worked Example

This was a fun assignment.  A faded worked example is one in which learners are presented with a series of examples.  Each time the number of steps demonstrated decreases and the number of steps that the students are asked to do on their own increases until at last the learner is required to do the whole problem on their own.  I chose to make a faded worked example about how to use spreadsheet functions.  I decided to keep it simple and focus on the SUM and AVERAGE functions, though the steps would apply for any functions.

I used Camtasia to record my screen.  My favorite thing about Camtasia is that it makes it really easy to start and stop and start over when recording the screen.  In my opinion, the most frustrating thing about recording video is when you get tongue tied and have to start over, or the dog starts whining, or a firetruck goes by.  I appreciate a program that makes it easy to restart and to edit recordings.  I find it’s best to record in chunks and then stitch those chunks together rather than trying to record the whole video in one take.

For this specific assignment, I chose to apply the segmenting principle and made each example a separate video to give the learners control over the pacing.  This is a lesson I can see myself incorporating in my classes so I set it up so that I can easily assign it through Google Drive.  The lesson is hosted in a Google Document.  The learner reads instructions and clicks on one example, then can access the example document to see how it works.  Then the learner goes on to the next example and is required to edit the sample document to complete the third step.  The third example gives the learner one step and requires them to complete the last two on the sample spreadsheet.  Finally, the Google Document delivers an assignment – to use a spreadsheet to plan for expenses.

I was careful to choose four different contexts to make sure that the learner could experience spreadsheets in a variety of applications.  My intent is to create far transfer so that learners will be prepared to use spreadsheets to assist them in their lives outside of my classroom.

Here is the link to my Google Document.  All of the Youtube Videos and example spreadsheets can be found in the document.

Here are my videos for your viewing convenience.  However, make sure to check out the Google Document to see them in context.

Chunked Presentation on Worked Examples

This assignment was to apply what I learned in Chapter 10:  “Applying the Segmenting and Pretraining Principles” to make a Slides Presentation about Chapter 12: “Leveraging Examples in E-learning”.  I felt as though the information in Chapter 12 was rather easy to break down into parts.  I used a different color for each different part, and I used a title slide to separate the presentation into those parts.  I was careful to limit the number of words on each slide.  I created a new slide for each principle and made sure each idea had its own slide.  I used the speaker notes for the important information, because it’s best for learners to hear the information rather than try to read and listen to it.

Here’s my presentation on Google Slides.

This is what it looks like embedded, but you should make sure to check out the speaker notes!

Digital Story

I found it quite challenging to pull together all the components of a good digital story.  To have a good plot that is relatable and also can be illustrated with pictures in a reasonably long video takes careful planning.  I chose to tell the story of how I learned to ski because it has a main character – who has a goal – learning to ski – that I must overcome obstacles to attain.  I also knew that it would be easy to come up with pictures.

I recorded and created my digital story on camtasia.

Without further rambling, my digital story is available on Youtube Here.  

Coherence Analysis

The coherence principle presented by Clark and Mayer instructs e-learning designers to avoid adding or including material that does not support the instructional goal (Clark & Mayer, 2016).  The premise for this principle is that learners have a limited capacity for processing and that capacity should be reserved for material that is directly related to the instructional goals.  Clark and Mayer examined whether this principle applies for words, graphics, and or sounds.  They found that e-learning works best when extraneous words, graphics, and sounds are avoided.

Words, graphics, and audio come at a cost.  There is a cost to produce these items.  Including them requires additional data storage and transmission capabilities and can make the lesson slower to access.  When learners are paid for time in a training seat or paying for that instructional time, extra content has a real cost.  However, the cost that should make e-learning desires most committed to excluding extra material is that it takes away from a learner’s already limited processing capacity.

E-learning designers are often tempted to include stories, trivia, decorative or entertaining graphics, background music, and/or sound effects because these things make their e-learning activity more interesting.  It’s based on the idea that if you can stimulate emotional interest, you can stimulate cognitive interest. (Clark & Mayer, 2016) This idea is great, if the emotional interest is focused on the relevant content.  Adding interesting content that isn’t relevant can arouse emotional interest, but it’s not focused on the relevant content so it doesn’t contribute to improved learning.

One example of the desire to arouse that comes to mind quickly is the “Crash Course in US History”  Series by Josh Green. Mr. Green does an excellent job of including interesting and relevant graphics.  His videos are fun and interesting to watch.  However, upon further analysis, it’s clear that not all of the graphics, words, and sound effects that he uses are directly related to the learning goals.  I’ll talk specifically about US History Episode 1, but the whole series features a similar style.  This lesson is titled “The Black Legend, Native Americans, and Spaniards”.  Based on a review of the description, the learning goals would have to do with the earliest Spanish settlements in the new world and their interactions with Native Americans.  One could argue that the first 45 seconds are an introduction to the whole US history series and therefore the image of the moon and the “America” graphic with music and Tippecanoe are related to that whole course introduction.  Fair enough.  From the start learners are presented with a series of images at a fast pace.  They illustrate the words that are being spoken, but are not relevant to the learning goal.  It takes a lot of processing to keep up with the images, and there’s not much point in making the effort because they are all illustrations of what these groups were not like.  Also, I spent way too much cognitive energy trying to figure out what the weird creature was on the chalkboard behind the instructor’s head.  And why is George Washington there, Mr. Green?  This video is engaging, and I think students might prefer it to reading a textbook, but I am not sure that it is as helpful as it could be if Mr. Green were to eliminate some of the distractions.  

A video that does a much better job of providing interesting graphics while ensuring that all of the graphics are directly related to the learning goal is this video from TedEd by Ben Labaree Jr.  The learning goals are related to the Kansas-Nebraska act and the influence it had in events leading up to the Civil War.  There are several moments throughout the video that the Mr. Labaree could have used to insert some entertaining graphic and audio in the style of John Green, however, he carefully designed each visual to support the learning goals.  In John Green’s style, a mention of the Civil War is opportunity to flash a picture of cannons blazing or wounded on a battlefield.  Mr. Labaree resisted that opportunity because such images don’t support the learning goal of understanding the impact of the Kansas Nebraska act.  Thinking about cannons or battlefields is a distraction from thinking about the opinions of northern and southern senators.  The graphics in this video are well designed but not distracting.  Perhaps I’m biased because I like history, but I find the video is plenty interesting.  At the end of the video it’s very easy for me to identify who and what the video was about.

I can think of several examples of ways the coherence principle is violated when instructors attempt to create and use e-learning materials.  I have seen videos with background music for no instructional reason (Moreno & Mayer, 2000).  In online text I have seen little boxes presented of random trivia or extra information that was irrelevant to the learning goals. (Lehman, Schraw, McCrudden & Hartley, 2007)  I have seen instructors include decorative graphics in an attempt to make their simple presentation look more interesting, but research indicates that this is not helpful (Mayer, Heiser, & Lonn, 2001) Often the clip art available seems related but is not relevant, yet instructors use it because they feel pressured to have graphics and don’t have time to find or create something more relevant.  I have seen instructions that included additional words to add technical depth beyond the learning objectives.  While this might seem like a good idea, the additional information may distract the learner from achieving the learning goals.  (Mayer & Jackson, 2005, Verkoeijen & Tabbers, 2009)

The coherence principle provides a constraint for the other principles of multimedia, contiguity, modality, and redundancy.  The multimedia principle encourages designers to include graphics with words, and the coherence principle cautions that those graphics must be relevant to the learning goals.  The contiguity principle encourages designers to design in such a way that learners encounter the words and pictures at the same time.  The coherence principle cautions that those words and pictures won’t help if they are not related to the learning goals.  Modality encourages designers to present words as audio narration with graphics.  The coherence principle cautions that those words must still be relevant to learning goals.  The redundancy principle encourages designers that they should usually refrain from putting words that learners are listening to on the screen.  Without the coherence principle, designers might be tempted to take liberties with those words since they aren’t on the screen, but the coherence principle reminds them to keep those words in alignment with the learning goals.

The coherence principle is dependent on psychological theories and exposes a limit for the arousal theory.  The coherence principle is depending upon cognitive theories which state that learners have a limited capacity for cognitive processing.  The coherence principle seems to be in conflict with the arousal theory which states that learners learn better when they have greater emotional interest. (Clark & Mayer, 2016)  However, the coherence principle does not contradict the arousal theory because it leaves room for emotional interest as long as that emotional interest is directly related to the learning goals.  It’s only when the emotional interest is not focused on learning goals that learning is diminished.

In my opinion, the coherence principle is an important principle to consider, but I would argue that it may not be a law to apply in all situations at all times.  Certainly it is a good principle to follow in most times for most learners.  Clark and Mayer used the term “decorative graphics” frequently in their description of extraneous images. (Clark & Mayer, 2016)  Often I have observed that educators attempt to insert decorative graphics as an attempt to make their work more visually appealing and cover up for a lack of understanding of graphics design principles.  I believe educators should consider the value of white space, font choice, contrast, and the alignment of items on a page rather than using images to make up for those deficiencies.  

I also believe that designing e-learning is quite different than providing classroom instruction.  While it is not explicit in learning objectives in courses, classroom instructors contribute to the social and emotional education of students.  Part of that includes sharing life lessons, updates on school and community events, and fostering appropriate relationships in the classroom.  It may seem natural to include such things when an instructor is creating an e-learning activity, but I think instructors should focus e-learning development on only those elements which are directly related to learning goals.  Those other goals can be met in other ways outside of a learning module.   

I believe the coherence principle is difficult to follow when it is difficult to determine which elements are relevant and which are simply related.  What seems relevant to one instructor may be merely related to another.  Designers should collaborate with others when the line between relevant and related is difficult to identify.  

In my opinion, there are more studies to be done in this area.  I would like to know if this principle applies as strongly for learners with more prior knowledge.  I would also like to know if it applies when the content does not require as much processing  For example when a group of high school students needs to learn a few things that are rather simple, is it okay to include related material that is entertaining?  Does this apply at all maturity levels?  I’m also not quite sure how well this principle relates to ideas about social connectivism and the importance of helping learners feel connected within a class, especially in an online class. When an instructor shares personal stories that are designed to develop relationships, is that extraneous?  Should that always be presented separate from the actual lessons?  

References:

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2016). E-learning and the science of instruction, 4th edition.  Hoboken, NJ:  John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Lehman, S., Schraw, G., McCrudden, M.T., & Hartley, K. (2007).  Processing and recall of seductive details in scientific text.  Contemporary Educational Psychology, 32, 569-587.  DOI: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2006.07.002

Mayer, R.E., Heiser, J., & Lonn, S. (2001).  Cognitive constraints on multimedia learning;  When presenting more material results in less understanding.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 187-198.  DOI:  10.1037//0022-0663.93.1.187

Mayer, R.E. & Jackson, J. (2005).  The case for coherence in scientific explanations:  Quantitative details can hurt qualitative understanding.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 11, 13-18.  DOI:  10.1037/1076-898X.11.1.13

Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. E. (2000).  A coherence effect in multimedia learning:  The case for minimizing irrelevant sounds in the design of multimedia instructional messages.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 92, 117-125.  DOI: 10.1037//0022 0663.92.1 117

Verkeoijen, P., & Tabbers, H. (2009).  When quantitative details impair qualitative understanding of multimedia lessons.  Educational Psychology, 29, 269-278.  DOI:  10.1080/01443410902795586

Modality Prezi

This assignment was to create a Prezi about chapter 6 or 7 of e-Learning and the Science of Instruction.  I feel like the Redundancy principle is somewhat dependent on the Modality principle.  The Modality principle provides the rationale that graphics should be described by audio rather than on screen text and the redundancy principle says that the text shouldn’t also be provided on screen.  I think you have to convince someone of the modality principle before you can convince them of the redundancy principle.  So, I decided to make my prezi about the Modality principle.

After reading the chapter, my first step was to storyboard the presentation.  I needed to think about the words that would be said out loud for each slide and determine what graphics I would need to illustrate the words.  I created graphics to illustrate the modality principle using Adobe Illustrator.  The graphics consist of icons from flaticons.com  that are arranged to create meaning.

Using the storyboard, I created my Prezi.  I chose a template and added stops as necessary to fit the storyboard.  I added graphics and on screen text for organization.  Then I scripted the audio.  I recorded each audio file in QuickTime, then imported it into the Prezi.  It’s always difficult for me to find a quiet space for recording audio.  I don’t have a private office or classroom at work, and my furry friends at home like to make noice exactly when I want them to be quiet.  I liked that I could add audio slide by slide in Prezi because I was able to record in short chunks.  When the dog whined or the colleague caughed, I didn’t have to redo long recordings.

Here’s My Prezi on the Modality Principle!

preziPreview

Reference:

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2016). E-learning and the science of instruction, 4th edition. Wiley: Hoboken, NJ.

Sloth Haiku Deck

I just got back from Costa Rica with a bunch of students.  The trip was arranged by my friend, a biology teacher.  She made sure we took the night tour in the tropical forest with a biologist and saw different levels of the forest from ground to canopy on hanging bridges and zip lines.  A group of girls had made it their singular goal to see a sloth on the trip.  I learned a lot about snakes – researching just how dangerous the ones we saw were, and birds – trying to figure out when and where I might see a Toucan, and wild cats – making sure we weren’t at risk to run into a jaguar.  But the thing that fascinated me the most was the lesson we got on sloths.  We ran into some sloth poop during our night tour and our guide told us all about sloths and sloth moths.  The last day in the mountains we got to see a sloth.  Our bus driver spotted it and stopped the bus so we could get out and take pictures.

When I had to make a haiku deck for Multimedia two days after we returned from our trip the sloth instantly came to mind.  It’s not a long story to tell, not super complicated, and it goes well with pictures.  I felt that I would be able to apply principles of multimedia and contiguity well with this topic.  It makes sense to use a sloth to introduce the idea of an ecosystem because there are only 4 organisms to talk about.  Many ecosystems involve a lot more organisms!   The first thing I did was write my speaker notes in a text editor.  Then I split them up and thought about what pictures I would use to illustrate them.  I needed to reorganize my words a little bit to make sure that all the words fit the picture that would be displayed during those words.

Haiku deck is a bit of a funny tool when thinking about putting words close to images because the speaker notes are all grouped on the side.  However, I created this project with the intent that the learner would be hearing the words while looking at the slide.  I kept the narration short for each slide.  I also made sure that the learner would be looking at a visual that connected with the narration.  I used minimal words on the screen because I wanted the learner to be verbally engaged with the audio narration rather than words on a screen.

The presentation makes zero sense without the speaker notes, and I think that is what the multimedia and contiguity principles indicate.  The visuals support the audio and the audio supports the visuals but neither stand very well alone.  When the narration talks about the sloth coming down the tree to eliminate waste, the learner should be looking at an image of that.  It might have been helpful to have an illustrator create graphics to show exactly what was going on or perhaps even an animator to show the sloth crawling down or the moths laying their eggs.  However, I was pleased with the images I was able to find.  It would be interesting to put a random picture of a sloth on every page, because that is the main character of the story, but it wouldn’t be helpful to the learner.  I was careful to find different pictures to illustrate each component of the narration.

I thought a lot about how helpful it is to have images to illustrate ideas while I was making this presentation.  The image of the single sloth moth is helpful.  That’s what the moth looks like.  But the image of the moths on the sloth is also really helpful because it clarifies how big the moths are, and that they are actually on the sloth.  Even having a picture of a sloth at all is helpful as most learners haven’t seen one in person.  Without the images, the narration would have had to describe the sloth and that would have been a lot more complex than simply including a picture.

And now, I present, my Haiku Deck.  Sloths: An ecosystem case study.

 

Static Instruction

Once upon a time multimedia meant static images and words.  Today when I think of multimedia I think of animation, videos, and generally complex media.  But words and pictures don’t have to move.  In fact, I’ve found when presenting computer instruction, it can be very effective to provide static screenshots of actions in order for learners to have enough time to follow along.  Often in a video screencast, learners must stop the video to follow instructions before they get left behind.  In the past my preferred method was to use Google Slides to present a series of screenshots that I annotated with arrows and small text boxes.  I embedded these presentations in our class LMS so learners could view them whenever they needed to.  This was a very labor intensive process.  I used the grab application on my Mac to take screenshots and then had to save them all and put them all on the slides in the correct order.  It wasn’t impossible, but it did take quite a bit longer for me to make the instructions than it did for my students to follow them.

When I read that we would have to make a static multimedia instruction, I did a mental inventory about what kinds of static instruction might be most helpful to me in the coming days.  I’ve got screencasts and instructions ready for what my students need to do in my classes, but I haven’t made any instructions about Google Classroom yet.  Some teachers have given it a try, and they have been successful without instructions.  However, I think more teachers would give it a try, if they had instructions to get them started.  So I decided to make instructions that would guide a teacher through the process of creating a class in Google Classroom.

For this assignment, we were introduced to Clarify software and encouraged to give it a try.  It feels like cheating.  When the clarify application is running it will capture the screen when a certain shortcut is pressed.  That part is similar to other screen capture applications, but what made this worth $30 to me was that it automatically imbedded my screenshot in my instructions.  As long as I remembered to stop and take a screenshot every time I did something, Clarify recorded all the steps for me.  I didn’t have to go back and retake one I missed, and I didn’t have to worry about getting steps out of order.

I added some annotations to my screenshots so they would be more helpful for learners.  In this case learners are teachers.  I decided to make the annotations a light green with dark grey text.  I selected green because I have read that green is a calming and creative color and teachers always need more calm and creative in their lives.  I decided to make them light green with dark text because some teachers might print instructions so they can hold them in their hand while they work on a computer screen.  If they did print, it would likely be in grayscale.  I wanted to make sure the annotations would still be clear if they were printed in grayscale.

I was careful to avoid putting a lot of information in the titles of the steps because I don’t think those words will be very helpful.  I made sure that all of the important information is on the pictures as close as possible to the spot in question.  I decided to use arrows because without them a learner might not know which end of the text bubble they should click on.  I decided not to overload a teacher with details about the different kinds of activities they could use but decided it would be best to show them where those buttons are and let them experiment with them.  I can create additional instructions if necessary, but I think adding all that extra information would take away from the learning objective – learners will create a class in Google Classroom.

Here’s my static instruction PDF.

A Computer Lab Refresh

In the fall of 2015, I drafted a proposal to update the computer lab in our Middle School.  The current lab setup presented many instructional challenges that I believed would be resolved by making some changes to the structure of the space.  The problems I identified were:

  • The computers were old and slow and difficult to manage.
  • The workstations in the room consisted of long rows of permanent desks with countertops which impeded teacher movement throughout the room.
  • The arrangement of workstations made it difficult for more than two students to work collaboratively.
  • The teacher desk was in the back with a four foot barrier between the teacher and the students which made the teacher less accessible for students.
  • In order to see a majority of student screens, the teacher needed to stand in the back of the room while the projection screen was in the front.
  • Students in the back were distracted by the screens of students in front of them who were working on a different part of an activity.
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The old computer lab workstations.

I created a plan to tear out the old workstations and replace them with tables around the edge of the room.  The computers were replaced with newer machines and the teacher area was moved to the front of the room.  I researched furniture options and selected options to accommodate a variety of budget options.

Over the summer I mapped out what needed to happen during the refresh of the computer lab.  I listed all of the steps that needed to be completed and identified who would accomplish each step.  I wrote that list on the whiteboard in the room so that anyone who walked by would know exactly what phase of the project we were on.  I proceeded to clean out all the old equipment that had been stored in filing cabinets over time.  I found old floppy disks and a variety of ancient cords.  I also removed all of the computers and stored them in various closets around the school until the room was ready for them.

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The room seemed to expand once we pulled out the old workstations.

I had to stay in communication with maintenance, the painter, and student workday supervisors to make sure everyone understood what I needed them to do and to make sure it all happened when it needed to.  We were able to use a student workday to tear out the old furniture because I had communicated that need with the principal.  Once the room was clear of the old furniture, the painter could come in and paint.  I recruited NHS students who needed service hours to come in and help me assemble furniture.  With furniture in place, I spent the last few days of summer setting up all the new computers.

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I learned a lot about the way school staff works together as I coordinated this project.  Several other projects were underway at the same time, all of them needing to be complete before students arrived.  We all needed to work with a measure of flexibility to make sure that everything was accomplished in time.  The painter got delayed in another area of the school so I had to put furniture together before the room was painted in order to have all the work done on time.  We had an HVAC issue a week before school started and I wasn’t able to set up computers because the repairmen were in my way.  I had to be persistent in following up with staff to make sure everything was accomplished.

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Ready for the first day!

It’s been about six months since I finished the new lab and it was definitely worth the effort.

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The teacher’s new view.

  • The new Apple computers are much faster and easier to work with.
  •  The teacher can move more freely around the room.
  • Students can easily work together in groups of 4 or even 5.
  • The teacher desk is in the front and center of the room and students can easily approach.
  • The teacher can see all student screens in one glance.
  • Students face the wall as they work so they don’t see other screens in front of them.
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Collaboration!

The lab is so much more efficient that I was able to add an additional week’s worth of content in the course!

 

 

Sketchnoting Multimedia Principles

sketchnoteIn EDTECH 513, Multimedia, the first project is to create a sketch note based on the reading.  I researched what sketchnoting is and discovered that it seems to be really popular to do it old school, using art pens and paper.  I decided to follow the crowd.  I have tried sketch noting on an iPad before, and I find it more frustrating than it is worth.  I found myself having to zoom in really far to do the drawing and in doing so I would lose track of where I was in the big picture. I would also have a hard time estimating space on the canvas and I’d end up running into the edge or creating something that was so big I could not zoom out far enough to see it all.  Perhaps that learning curve is something I could overcome with practice, but since I only had one sketch note to do for this assignment I thought I would try he pen and paper method.

I felt a little bit of guilt over using pen and paper rather than tech skills, but it caused me to think more broadly about the multimedia concepts we are learning.  A teacher would not have to learn to use photoshop to create an illustration for students.  There’s no law that says that all multimedia must be created on a computer.  An instructor could draw a picture on paper and upload that for the students.  In so doing, the instructor would be able to apply the same multimedia principles while using limited technology skills.

I was excited that this project justified purchasing some art supplies.  It’s been a while since I had a reason to purchase a sketchbook and nice art pens and I was excited to do so.  The Hobby Lobby visit amounted to about $22.00.  More than I wanted to spend, but I justified my splurging because it was for school.  I took my new art supplies home, reviewed the chapters and began to think about what I would do.

In the meantime, I got an email from a colleague.  She had just gotten her new Rocketbook notebooks in the mail and wanted to know if I wanted to give them a try.  She blogged about it here.  I researched them and it seems that they would be perfect for sketch noting.  They upload your notes to the cloud, so you can keep all your sketch notes organized in the cloud.  When the notebook is full, you simply erase it in the microwave.  All of this seems really expensive, but she found hers on Amazon for $32.  Thats only $10 more than I spent on my art kit!  Sadly, my school closed for illness the day I was planning to try them out so I gave up and used my pen and paper kit.  However, I think that Rocketbooks would be the perfect tool to let kids use for sketchnoting.  They wouldn’t have to deal with the zooming issues on iPads and they would be able to organize their notes digitally.  The one downfall might be that the notebooks require special pens.  This would limit students to using only the pen sizes that are available, and would require them to keep up with their special pen.

I had a blast completing my sketchnote.  I felt that the ideas in the chapters were easy to represent visually – in fact I had a hard time picking which question to answer with my sketchnote.  However, I think I spent much too much time on it.  It seems that the point of sketchnoting is to sketch while a speaker is presenting the ideas.  Because we were sketching ideas from a book it felt different.  I was going from one visual representation to another rather than going from an audio representation to a visual.  I think if I were going to encourage my students to sketch note I would prepare some kind of video presentation for them so that they could be doodling  while they listen, but also so that they could pause the video when necessary.   I think it would take some practice to be able to keep up with a live speaker well.

I had never thought much about sketch noting before, but I’m already considering how I could help my students practice taking visual notes.