Saturday, May 19, 2012

ImageThink: Graphic Facilitation & Big Ideas

Source: ImageThink
We recently attended the hands-on workshop given by ImageThink on graphic facilitation at the New York Peace Institute in Brooklyn's Mediation Center. Nora Herting and Heather Willems founded ImageThink and were the instructors for event. The makeup of the participants were from a variety of different professions who came together to learn how to “picture your big ideas” through the graphic facilitation process. This also made for a diverse sharing of ways we planned to use it in our own work experiences.

The roster of activities for the day provided a variety of approaches to the process, including graphic recording, drawing with the whole body, learning to listen, and more. Since so much of it was hands-on, the participants were able to get a real sense of what it takes to graphically produce notes in a non-linear way. We worked on large white paper, 48 inches in width and 8-10 feet long. After each lesson we discussed how we arrived at our image boards and received constructive feedback from the instructors.
Source: ImageThink

Using this method changes the view of the information. Essentially, graphic facilitation records ideas as they are being said. To do this effectively requires good listening skills to focus on the main idea and key points of the presentation to parse the necessary pieces of information to communicate ideas. In other words, the content is designed visually to make connections using words, images and numbers. It was also quite clear that it would be difficult to graphically facilitate a meeting and run it at the same time, and it came as no surprise that many of us wished we had had another day to learn even more. The following is a video demonstration from ImageThink showing how graphic facilitation works.

As teachers, we could also see that the process, although not complex, would require practicing before asking students to try it. Listening to audio such as a TED talk and then trying to graphically represent what is being said is a good place to start. Another exercise to help practice the process is to convert a standard PowerPoint presentation into a single page graphic summary. The added value to using this with students is the ability to present information clearly and concisely. It's also a creative and engaging way to help kids focus by captivating the content in a visual way. 

Headings, color, and size impact how the ideas are communicated, and the relationship between the words and images begin to rise to the surface. The ideation that sometimes starts in the minutia moves front and center, and the higher level points become actionable. To have kids use this method to graphically represent content will help train them to visual think about the key components of a topic. After all, don’t we constantly talk to them about figuring out the main idea and supporting details? Well, graphic facilitation is just another way of doing it.
Source: ImageThink Gallery
The ImageThink website is loaded with resources to help teachers get started. You can also follow them on Facebook and the Twitter hashtag is #ImageThink.


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  3. I wonder if this is something we un-teach kids through school in trying to teach them to think and depict things linearly. If we start with students at a young age, I think they might have an easier time depicting their thinking in this way.

    1. We would agree, starting and continually working to develop visual thinking at a young age in this way could stem the tide from linear learning and its problems.

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