Graphic Recording, Visual Facilitation: making the invisible visible (and beautiful)

Remember what I said here about the nmc being an organization that celebrates creativity, innovation, and the importance of play? This spirit probably could not be more clearly apparent in their remarkable way of chronicling the work they do in their meetings when they ask their members for ideas, opinions, interpretations.

We live in a text based world. And yet there are moments when words fail us. Often. They truly fail us when we try to talk about how learning happens. They fail us even further when we try to describe the many facets of teaching with technology. And there are the moments when we realize that while our rational side craves to capture the ephemeral aspect of learning in a concrete fashion, words are terribly limited. And limiting. The written word, by itself, does not capture the interconnections, the dotted lines, the invisible but wonderful moments, the unseen connections, the visible and invisible possibilities that happen in a learning environment.

Enter new media. And by new media I mean the technologies (any technologies) that multiple means of representation(s) provide… and how each of those stories (together) help us see the various facets of learning with technology.

This morning’s meeting has an objective: to ask the community how we/they/ you define standards and/of excellence in new media. (And this is the morning after most of the group had a wild fun night at the House of Blues…) Anyone who has sat through a strategic planning session knows this is hard. The process can be deadly dull and painfully circular, sapping every ounce of creativity from every person in the room in a matter of minutes.

Enter new (and yet very very old forms of media) to capture the thoughts, the ideas, the opinions of a group of people in a room.

As I write, I am witnessing the thoughts, comments, pleadings of the audience members being captured as a visual record. The nmc’s very own Rachel Smith is in front of the room as our visual facilitator, drawing a visual record of the conversation. If ever there were a metaphor for “making the invisible…visible”… this is it.

[And yes this is new media: it is all about using old tools in a new way to create conversations, communication and the collaborations]

I will post the final image of her visualization of this conversation here soon. But in the meantime, here is the Visual Record of what another group did as a way to define new media in another meeting. Click on the image to enlarge and explore….

So watch this space and to see how the art and the craft of visual facilitation captured the strands of today’s conversation and the myriad of questions that popped up today…

how do we define new media? Or better put, how do we capture the multiple definitions for “new media”… a title that describes a tool box (or kit) of technologies that is constantly changing, morphing, shaping. When does new media become old media? What does it mean to be literate in new media? Is new media something that should be seen as mediation in education? Is it about a mindset, a willingness to explore, an attitude of creativity? What does it mean to be on the leading edge, and what does that mean when the leading end moves all the time? What is this weird emotional pull that new media elicits from its practitioners? Is it only about the kewl new toys?

More to follow. For more on the work of Visual Practitioners (and how to hire one for your next annual general meeting)…click here

Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!

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