If, like me, you want to sketch your notes at a conference or event, and worry about missing important details or not being ready, here’s a cheat-sheet for you.
Pens: Get your pens (including back-up pens if you think you’ll run out of ink) ready and somewhere you can easily get at them. Also worth keeping an eye on is where you can store them for easy access whilst you’re sketching – pocket, bag, table, etc. There’s nothing worse than dropping your pens, book, phone, etc. when you’re trying to pay attention. Try and use at least two colours, and be consistent in how you use them (shading, highlighting, etc.) across all your sketches.
Page-per-note: Prepare each page of your notebook with the details of the speaker and/or presentation. Include name, Twitter name, presentation title, etc. in your own design. This way you know what space you’re working with for the presentation, and who it is for. Be careful to make sure you check if titles change!
You know I like sketching and sketchnotes, yes? If you do too, whether you realise the full benefit of doodling for pleasure instead of doodling out of boredom, then you’ll love this TED talk from Sunni Brown – Doodlers, unite!
As usual, here are some choice extracts from the talk, ones I like.
“I spend a lot of timeteaching adults how to use visual languageand doodling in the workplace.And naturally, I encounter a lot of resistance,because it’s considered to be anti-intellectualand counter to serious learning.But I have a problem with that belief,because I know that doodling has a profound impacton the way that we can process informationand the way that we can solve problems.”
“Here’s what I believe.I think that our cultureis so intensely focused on verbal informationthat we’re almost blinded to the value of doodling.And I’m not comfortable with that.And so because of that belief that I think needs to be burst,I’m here to send us all hurtling back to the truth.And here’s the truth:doodling is an incredibly powerful tool,and it is a tool that we need to remember and to re-learn.” – Sunni Brown
A couple of months ago I had one of those ‘ah ha’ moments I should have had 25+ years ago at school. I have never been good at taking notes. Never.
At school I was always behind and struggling because I couldn’t keep up with my teachers and their dictated notes. I wasn’t alone with this, but it was still hard. At University it was the same, but it felt worse because everyone else wrote and kept amazing notes from lectures, demonstrations, field-trips, etc. I survived and gained my degree because I had generous friends who helped me when I needed it.
Now, with nearly 18+ years since graduation I’ve finally realised why I am still making rubbish notes in meetings, conferences, etc. (apart from the obvious reason that I suck at it). It’s the wrong medium for me. It’s not that my handwriting is so awful I can’t read it (which, unfortunately, it is) it’s that I don’t respond to those kinds of notes. Therefore I shouldn’t be trying to take notes like that.
I should be sketching, or rather taking ‘sketchnotes’. Read More …
We all have them. Sometimes it seems our days are full of them. Mostly, they’re needed and occasionally they can even be useful. But are you getting the best out of a meeting?
The worst meeting is one where there’s no clear agenda or even purpose to it. Whether there are two or ten of you present, remote or actually in-person, whether it’s for a couple of minutes or a couple of hours, and whether it’s a meeting to discuss a project or a ‘general update’.
There are some things we all learn about meetings, usually from the ones we feel wasn’t time well spent or didn’t achieve what we hoped for. Here’s a few tips I (try) and employ when attending and/or requesting a meeting:
Model: If you believe others are not using their meetings to the best or most effective use of time, be a role model of how you will manage your meetings.
Agenda: Set an agenda. Even a short, informal meeting ought to have a purpose and goal. The goal could be an update to a project, to pass information on to senior/junior project member, to review or agree actions going forward, etc. but the key is to set the purpose. (see calendar). If you have time, set this ahead of the meeting. If not, then use the calendar (see below) invite to do this.
Audience: Only invite (see calendar) those who actually need to be there – no one needs any more unnecessary meetings in their already busy schedule. Also consider the audience availability (below) and avoid times you know might be contentious (too early, too late, too long, not long enough, conflicting meetings, etc).
Calendar: If you use an online calendar to arrange and plan your time then use this and send an update through. Most corporate and institutional systems will link the attendees email to their calendar and, if you’re in the same system, you’ll see their availability. (see availability). Use this invite to set not only the time and agenda but also the location, allowing all participants time to travel between buildings if necessary).
Availability: No one wants a meeting assigned to a time they’re not available or can’t get to. Consider the purpose (above), audience, location, etc.
Time: Allow time for others to have their input. If you need it arrange a second, follow-up appointment and specify when setting both appointments up that one is for the project feedback, the second is for discussion. By setting the time limit for the meeting, which can often be determined by how long you can book a room for, it can be used as a mechanism for keeping the meeting running to the agenda and avoid too much off-topic chat.
Formal/informal: Use your own initiative to know how formal or informal to keep the meeting. It might depend on the scale or scope of the project or subject if you prefer a formal meeting, or even line management and disciplinary issues. Informal meetings may not even need an agenda or calendar (see above), but it’s always good to have purpose and goal.
Roles: If possible and if the meeting requires it, assign roles for attendees in the agenda and calendar invite. This will ensure only those who need to be present are actually invited and present. Those you invite who don’t have a role, or indeed if you’re invited and aren’t assigned a roll, could quite easily push back and query the reason for the invite.
Notes: Whether you’re taking notes for yourself as an aide memoir or for wider dissemination, always take notes. You never know when you need to remind yourself about something that was said or decided. If it’s not your meeting then, hopefully, a set of notes will be circulated after the event, and if it is your meeting then consider circulating the notes and ask for inclusion if you’ve missed anything. If you need to share your notes, you might want to check in advance if your sketchnotes are OK for the audience?
This doesn’t even cover the online meetings we have … !
What about you, how do you plan your meetings and the meetings you attend? Do you go along with the organiser or ‘do your own thing’?
Whilst I love sketchnoting my way through meeting and conferences, and have been doing some at ALTC this year, I’ve also been taking advantage of one of the features of Twitter. If you’ve not tried it you should.
Twitter has a feature whereby, if you reply to a tweet, the original tweet and your reply are linked in the timeline. If there are more replies to the replies Twitter will actually say something like ’11 replies’ between first and most recent tweets. So, here’s what I did. I replied to each of my tweets about a particular session at ALTC today, and I continued to reply to the last one I made, thus making a thread of notes for the session.
When it comes to your blog or whatever you do to curate your notes/tweets all you do is link to the first tweet and, when someone clicks the link they will see, in the timeline, each reply (and anyone else’s too) to that tweet/note. If you want to embed the tweets then select the ’embed’ option and co the code:
For this last one I’ll link and show the embed feature, so you can see my notes for Sheila and Alex’s BYOD4L session (something I’ve been involved in and would thoroughly recommend to you too), but also embed the tweets here. For this don’t embed the first tweet, but instead use one of the tweet note replies and you can select to include the parent tweet too:
There’s no reason for it, I didn’t even realise I’d done it until a few tweets last night from Clare Thompson (@ClareThomsonQUB) and Sue Beckingham (@suebecks) reminded me about it. Yes, I’ve continued to write about work and wider reading of the industry we’re in, but this is Clare’s tweet that prompted me to write here again, about being a Learning Technologist:
In the last two years I thought of and collaborated on, edited and then self-published The Really Useful #EdTechBook. I’ve developed, supported, mentored, facilitated, and bled/wept over the creation of two MOOCs for the University of Warwick (Big Data and Literature and Mental Health). I’ve facilitated a total of 15 runs/presentations of all five Warwick MOOCs. I’ve two other MOOCs in development at the moment, one of which took myself and colleagues to Italy recently to interview and film important individuals for case study and ‘thought’ pieces who were attending an event in Prato Centre, Monash University, Italy. Oh, and I’ve met & interviewed Sir Ian McKellen and Stephen Fry, all part of the day job!!
And these are just the thing I can remember off the top of my head. Perhaps I should be more organised and keep better notes? Oh, and I still Sketchnote.
The great thing is that I have the interest and passion to do all this, all the time. I love being connected and in a position to collaborate or share knowledge and experience. I love that I can swap roles and identities so quickly depending on what the day brings – technical support, pedagogic support, management or administration, etc. No day is the same. No email asks for the same thing. No meeting covers the same thing (well, not very often).
Like Clare I find that IRL meetings can be awkward, conferences can be draining, events can be difficult to get everything done I want and see everyone I want to see AND still have time for the event itself. I’ve been reading the Quiet Revolution, about introverts, and engaging in their regular tweet chat. Having the time to reflect on events and conversations is important, and sometimes events can be so hectic there simply isn’t the time:
@livequiet At work I am what I need to be. At home I am what they need me to be. Alone I am who I am
This 10th ALT Conference is possibly the largest yet, hosted at the Universty of Manchester, over 3 days with 4 invited keynote speakers, 185 sessions (although some look to have been cancelled), and over 500 expected delegates.
Kicking us off today was an impressive session from Steve Wheeler and two of his students; Becca Smallshaw and Kate Bartlett. Steve covered the kinds of subjects I’ve heard him speak about before, but he stopped short of the usual keynote and handed it over to Becca and Kate. Using the time with them to talk about the expectations and experiences of students, they both handed the alien, and probably quite nerve wracking, experience of 500+ people hanging on their every word extremely well.
I spoke with Steve afterwards and he took great pains to explain that this part of the keynote was not scripted or rehearsed, that Becca and Kate knew very little of his slides; they kind of knew what he might ask them, but not in details. They were free to answer openly and honestly, which for me makes their performance and answers all the more credible and insightful. huge respect to them both for standing there today in front of us! Read More …
So, with only two weeks to go before this years ALT conference (ALTC) it’s time to start making sense of the programme and sessions, see what’s happening and when, and then trying to work out how to be in several places at once.
So, after a first pass at the ALTC programme here are my plans, subject to change once I spend more time reading more of the abstracts and changing my mind. I think I may need to compare notes with someone who can get to some of the sessions I miss? Read More …