Tag Archives: visual notes

A Visual Look at my Polisci Methods Class

I really enjoyed this Sunday Funnies segment but it wasn’t as easy as I imagined it would be. I’m not the most experienced artist but I find it funny how my scribbly cursive translates into such comical cartoons. The material was pretty straightforward so I won’t say it exactly helped me understand the lecture differently. I also wouldn’t say that I would do this in class, because it takes a lot of time to get the doodles– crude as they are– to my liking. Something I noticed was that most of the characters I drew were male, to my chagrin. I think I drew them male mostly because I just can’t doodle hair well, so I would avoid drawing women with beautiful, wispy hair. So anyway, I enjoyed my time with this assignment, so thank you Professor! Here’s a link back to his site where you can view our original project here. Enjoy! Sunday Funnies visual drawing 1Sunday Funnies visual drawing 2

Another example of visual notes

View of a complex flow chart

I was thinking some more about the visual notes you’re all producing this weekend. I linked you to the example of Giulia Forsyth, which I think is an especially provocative and interesting one for you. I thought you might also be interested in a different sort of visual notes, too.

My partner is in law school now. She went to a pretty conservative undergrad institution and took very traditional textual notes in all her classes, though she was also always a doodler and is a visual thinker. After graduation, she worked in higher education administration and got into database development, mostly using Filemaker Pro, which uses a visual organization system to organize the relationships between elements of databases and she found it a really powerful method of learning and synthesizing other information. And I kept pointing her to crazy visual notes stuff that I’m interested in too.

Pleading - Response-Complaint General diagram

“Pleading, Complaint, Response General Diagram” flowchart

Now that she’s in law school, she’s found creating diagrams and other visual notes to be incredibly useful as a method of studying for her law school exams. As a class finishes a unit, she’ll synthesize the material from that unit using Lucidchart. It takes her more time than just recopying her notes, as many of her classmates do, but she’s found that she understands the material more deeply and remembers the important concepts more clearly. At the end of the semester, when she’s reviewing for an exam, she finds it to be much more efficient to study the diagrams she’s made than to go through many pages of written notes.

She offered that I could post a couple of her diagrams here, mostly by way of showing an alternate version of creating visual notes, especially visual notes that don’t require drawing skill.

(Other mind mapping tools.)

Visual Note Taking

Sunday Funnies 3

Sunday Funnies 3: Visual Note Taking

I did my visual note taking for chemistry 142. In class we talked about things such as unit cells, lattice points, and phase diagrams. I tried to the best of my not-so-artistic ability to give representations of each of these. I used chemistry because a visual diagram is very useful in chemistry. Transferring my thoughts into pictures really helped me gain a better understanding of unit cells and lattice points. This is the first time I have used visual note taking, but I believe I will use it frequently in the future.

The graph in the top left below “chem 142″ is a phase diagram. Instead of writing in each space “solid, liquid, gas” respectively, I decided to draw how the molecules appear in each phase. Directly to the right of the phase diagram is a three dimensional sketch of a unit cell. It has a lattice point in the corners and makes up a total of one atom. Below the phase diagram and unit cell is the formula used to calculate the volume of the unit cell. Because the atoms are spheres it is the formula for the volume of a sphere. I played on the name pi and drew a picture of a pie.


,Greer Howard

Sunday Funnies 3: Visual Note Taking

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It really helped me highlight the key points and allowed me to put all the main topics together. This allowed me to really focus on the key ideas and I didn’t have to be so overwhelmed with all the little details in my handwritten notes from class. By adding images, it drew my attention and really helped me retain information better. I feel like images, at times, can really convey a message better than words can. In this case, images allow me to link all the information from lectures together that words aren’t able to do (or can’t do as easily).

This alternative note-taking strategy made me realize how the information I learned in class all fits together. I’ve realized that I’m a really visual learner and that looking at pictures can allow me to recall information more. I found it pretty enjoyable to doodle around and was interestingly very relaxing. Although, the drawings took a lot longer than I expected, since I’m not a very artistic person. I also found it interesting how I was able to bring my notes together to a few main points to focus on because when I looked over my lecture notes I felt like there were many more topics that were covered. I find it really amusing how such a simple idea can really allow for me to retain information more efficiently and thus, increasing my knowledge in a particular subject.

Sunday Funnies 3: Visual Note Taking

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I decided to take visual notes  for two classes this week.  Neither class covered that much content, so I did not find it particularly challenging to capture the essence of either class in one page of visual notes. In the first class, Health 200, we discussed the different roles a PHP takes when leading a class.  The second, Anthropology 101, we discussed Charles Darwin and his discovers.

The process of visual note taking itself was actually very enjoyable. I found myself struggling (in a good way) with the material in a way I have never done before. I was forced to not only understand and visualize the material in my head, but I had to put those thoughts into presentable drawings. It is one thing to take traditional notes, often a tedious task of copying down what is on the board and the important additions of what comes out of your professors mouth. Visual notes on the other hand force you to capture both aspects of note taking, while also limiting your word usage and representing them through a new and fun medium. I am not sure I can see myself using visual notes a lot in my future, but I can definitely see it being a better use of my time rather than aimlessly doodling in class!

Sunday Funnies #3: Visual notes

sunday funnies #2

I’ve always took notes on a notebook, with mostly texts. I’ve never really have thought of arranging my notes with drawing representing concepts in notes. It was interesting to create a visual note, but I’ve face several problems in the creation of it. First of all, I struggled to decide on how I should format the note, so that it looks the best. I also had to think thoroughly on how to visually represent concepts and ideas, like using a padlock to represent of Java being a secure programming language. It also took me quite some time to actually draw and include all the materials I’ve learnt in one class. On the bright side, however, taking effort to visualize concepts and drawing them out really made me think through them, and allowed me for a deeper understanding of the materials. In conclusion, it was interesting and a fresh approach of note-taking for me. It greatly facilitated in helping me understand the concepts more easily. However, as a college student with a busy schedule, I think visual note-taking isn’t the best way to create notes.


Assignment link


Sunday Funnies 3: Visual Note Taking



While making this doodle, I noticed a few things about myself. It was somewhat easier than expected and sort of relaxing to get to draw for homework. However, I did not particularly feel like I better grasped the material because of the doodling. I picked to draw my calculus notes because my options were not the best–I don’t take notes in Health 200 or French 203 and I could’ve drawn out my chemistry notes, but I felt like that would be confusing and challenging. So math was my only viable option, which felt a little bit like a terrible option because most of my math notes are just practice problems. However, I cheated a little ad used notes from several different days and chose really basic calculus topics. That being said, I feel like these notes only make sense to me due to my lacking artistic skills, but I guess that is okay.

Sunday Funnies 3: Visual Note Taking

Comic representation of Domain of One's Own

Due: 2/1

Create a set of visual notes for one session of a class that you are currently enrolled in.

I’m a big fan of the work of Giulia Forsyth. She works in a teaching and learning center, where she helps professors and instructors be more innovative in their teaching practices, and she also works as a visual note-taker and facilitator, which means that she is sometimes employed to go to presentations and meetings and to doodle notes for the meeting.

Check out this four minute video where she gives a quick summary of how she began to take her doodling seriously and where it has led her:

On her Visual Practice page, Forsyth has lots of videos and images explaining how she approaches the task of producing drawings that help her and others to not just grab the information that’s been presented in a class or discussion, but to grapple with the material and better understand it. You can also see numerous examples on her Flickr page, especially her Visual Practice album.

For your Sunday Funnies assignment this week, I want you to create a set of visual notes for one day in one class (other than ENG101) that you are currently enrolled in. You do not need to take your visual notes in real time; in fact, I recommend that you don’t. I recommend that you go to your classes and take notes in whatever manner you normally do, then after class go through your notes and recreate them as visual notes.

You do not need to draw your notes in a digital environment, either, though you are certainly free to do so. If you prefer to doodle with pen, pencil, or marker on paper then do that and once you’re done with your drawing, just scan the pages as JPG files so you can upload them to your site. If you have an iPad or other tablet or would like to draw on your laptop or desktop, then you might try apps like Inkflow or Adobe’s Sketchbook or search for other free/cheap drawing applications. I am completely tool agnostic on this assignment, so make your drawings in whatever manner make sense to you.

Your visual notes do not need to be polished or beautiful or anywhere near as intricate as Forsyth’s. Do try to take this assignment as an opportunity to really engage differently with your material–don’t just make a series of doodles that follow the outline of the lecture or discussion in your notes but try to really translate the concepts and information into a new, visual set of notes.

Once you’ve got your notes, load them onto your course site as a post in your Sunday Funnies category. Make one of your notes pages a featured image.

As you upload your visual notes, take a few moments to reflect on the process and then write a paragraph or two about what you learned during the process of creating your visual notes. Did it help you to understand the course content any differently or better to create notes visually rather than just as text? Did you discover anything new about yourself or the way you think in the process? Did you find it enjoyable or find some aspect of it particularly interesting? Someplace in your reflective text, create a link back to this blog post assignment.

(image credit: “Domain of One’s Own” by Flickr user Giulia Forsyth)

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