Reflecting on finding my creative force and other jedi mind tricks

Firstly I want to thank Amy Burvall for her post which has helped me to find a way of sharing something that was dancing around my mind towards the end of last week.

I have the Timehop app on my phone. It basically pulls feeds from Facebook, twitter etc and each day shows slightly random vignette of what you shared 1 year, 2 years, 5 years ago. It has about 8 years worth of posts of mine to play with.

It’s equally reassuring and disconcerting to see how regularly certain events occur over the years; and a reminder that actually the trees and tulips do bloom at around the same time every year.

Towards the end of last week Timehop,  in its not quite so serendipitous manner, reminded me that it has been 2 year since I started playing with sketch noting, or as I have come to call it “doodling” as a way of recording keynotes at conferences I attend.

It was at the Blackboard Conference in Dublin that David Hopkins and I had a chat about the experiments and approaches he had been taking.  David suggested having a look at Mike Rhodes book The Sketch Note Handbook, and mentioned an app called Notability.

David was (and still does) draw on real paper but I wanted to experiment with using my ipad.  Duly inspired I got the book, downloaded the app and had a go.  My first attempt were done post conference but I quite like the idea, approach and the outcome.

#BbTLC2014 sketches

Encouraged by people like David, and my doodling heroine Giulia Forsythe ( I remember watching awe as she drew a talk on an iPad about 5 years ago at a conference in Vancouver) when I go to conferences/events I try now  to  make a visual note or doodle of what I have heard.   Following Giulia’s example, I share my doodles, usually via twitter as I go along and also via Flickr with a CC licence so they can be re-used openly.

Like many people I don’t really think that I am particularly creative at work, so reading Amy’s post really help affirm this little creative work related part of me. I also realise that I when it comes to sharing, I am far more comfortable with sharing my “stuff” than many of my colleagues.   So whilst I can relate to the positive feeling Amy mentions when you create something, I am aware of this train of thought:

 “. . .  many have the notion that creativity is synonymous with artistic talent, and they freak out when they are asked to be “creative”…Thinking this way snowballs into an extreme lack of creative confidence. We feel we our work is unworthy before we even begin. Or worse — we feel we have to wait for inspiration before we can start on a creative project.”

If you can hold a pencil, you can create and line ergo you can draw!  But I realise not everyone wants to, but perhaps more importantly the issue around sharing fundamentally comes down to this?

“Being concerned with what people think of you or your work, or the chances you have in succeeding with an idea, or — this is the worst — how much better other people are at what you are attempting is only going to inhibit what can possibly come out of you.”

Like my blogging, my doodles are primarily for me. They aren’t great works of art, they’re not supposed to be. They are just a representation of what I have been listening too. Some work better than others. Looking back at them, there is a similarity (perhaps a style) to them. My style is very different to Mike Rhodes and Kevin Mears (who did a fantastic job of my OER15 keynote) – I will never be that neat. I don’t go back and “fix” them – perhaps I should.

The act of creating them makes me listen in a different way. Looking at them reminds me of the talks in a different way than reading text about the talk. Other people seem to like them too, which is always nice.

I’m not advocating that everyone needs to start drawing/sketchnoting, though I do notice more people doing it. As Amy highlights throughout her post, I would encourage you, dear reader, to try something a bit different, maybe something visual, be it taking  a photo, creating your own bank of images, ones you create and/or ones that inspire you.  Think about using them in your learning and teaching (remembering of course to check the copyright on them – CC ftw) get your students to experiment to. It’s a great way to get them thinking creatively and also to start to think about copyright/ ownership and use of images.

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About sheilmcn

I am a Senior Lecturer in Blended Learning at Glasgow Caledonian University.

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