Whether you’re a student taking notes in class, a teacher plotting a lecture, or just someone absorbing information from any source, the question of how to retain information is always present. Should you take notes? Will you ever look at those notes again? Did the lecture have a PowerPoint attached? Will you ever look at those slides again?

Education professionals have long studied how learners encode information for retention, and teachers (ideally) scaffold their content to help learners engage in a process of ingest and recall. Lately, I’ve been particularly smitten by the concept of “sketchnoting,” and find the new series of posts from core77 , a New York-based design magazine, on the topic really interesting.  Perhaps I’m interested in part because it helps me realize that, as a learner, I’ve been sketchnoting in my own way for years. Not only am I more inclined to read my own sketched notes later (they’re funny, and I can remember doing a certain doodle and the lecture content that spurred it), but the act of using drawing, doodles, and visual elements while listening somehow helps my brain better retain information. I’m also interested as I try to think about how to deliver content to students in new and memorable ways, such as by using Prezi, an alternative to the oft-deadly PowerPoint. (I recently prepared a Prezi on how to evaluate information on the web – see it here.)

Watch some sketchnoting in action:


What do you think? Are there ways you can incorporate visual thinking into your own learning and teaching?