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The Teaching Space Podcast

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Nov 16, 2019

Episode 74 of The Teaching Space Podcast explores the visual note taking skill of sketchnoting.


In today’s episode we’re exploring my new favourite thing: sketchnoting. I am excited about this topic because it seems to combine all of my worlds: education, writing, reading, learning, technology and drawing. I’m still a sketchnoting novice, but hopefully, for the purpose of this podcast anyway, my enthusiasm makes up for my lack of skill.

What are Sketchnotes?

According to

”Sketchnotes (sketch + notes) are visual notes, so more than just the regular text notes we all are used to take. When sketchnoting you enhance your regular notes with visual elements such as small drawings, frames, arrows, letterings etc. In the end you get notes with benefits. They help you to visualize and structure contents of any kind and help you to treasure information.”

I love the idea of “notes with benefits”!

Here’s an example of my first sketchnote; it’s from a talk I saw by Daisy Christodoulou deliver at the ResearchED National Conference 2019 (listen to my podcast about the event here).

Why are Sketchnotes Useful for Educators?

There is vast array of research available to explain why combining words and images helps support memory and learning. You won’t find a better starting point than Kathy Schrock of Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything. It includes links to research papers, books and videos.

In short, thought, sketchnoting uses both the verbal and visual input channels to your memory so increases the likelihood of taking in and retaining information. Your whole mind is engaged. This is the basic premise of dual coding theory. If you are listening to a talk, for example, you go from being a passive participant to an active one if you are doodling what you hear. Sketchnoting helps you concentrate and remember what you heard.

This is of course, useful for students, but my focus for today’s episode is us: the teachers and trainers (I’d like to explore how our students could use sketchnotes in a future episode). If you are super keen to explore this now though check out Doug Neill’s course: Sketchnoting in the Classroom.

Why might WE find sketchnoting useful? Quite simply, it’s for our professional development. You could sketchnote at conferences or while listening to education podcasts or reading books. TED talk videos are ideal sketchnote material while you are still learning the skill as they are short and you can pause them! I have found the app Blinkist invaluable for the same reason.

Incidentally, if you fancy sketchnoting an episode of The Teaching Space podcast then please do! If you email me the sketchnote or share it with me on social media I will send you a free copy of my book, The Productive Teacher.

That’s how I think sketchnoting can help teachers and trainers.

Here’s an example of a sketchnote I did after listening to Daniel T. Willingham’s book “Why Don’t Students Like School?” via Blinkist.

But I Can’t Draw

I am predicting the number one barrier to teachers or trainers trying to sketchnote is this statement… “I can’t draw”.

No problem.

According to Mike Rohde sketchnoting is about “ideas not art”. If you have ideas, you can sketchnote. Rohde makes the point that:

”Kids draw to express ideas. They don’t worry about how perfect their drawings are, as long as their ideas are conveyed.”

So why not give it a try?


Wrap Up

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Questions? Comments?

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  1. Leaving a comment on this episode’s show notes blog post.
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The show notes for this episode include any links I’ve mentioned; you can find them at

Thanks for listening and I hope you’ll join me for the next episode.