What are the best methods to teach note-taking to students? There is much debate around this topic – from notes on paper, typing on a keyboard, and sketchnoting as note-taking. In my opinion, Sylvia Rosenthal Tolisano is leading the way in her examination of, and experimentation with sketchnoting as note-taking, but more importantly, sketchnoting for learning, and sketchnoting as a form of reflection.

Sylvia has documented her sketch-note-taking learning journey in over 32 posts on her blog.

She explains sketchnoting as note taking as a valuable tool for learning:

  • doodling/sketching my notes makes me remember the content better and longer the act of “coloring” (filling in block letters or objects)
  • gives me time to think deeper and longer about the meaning
  • choosing colours adds another dimension of organization, hierarchy and connectivity between concepts and ideas
  • the act of thinking about the visual representation of a point or concept adds depth to understanding that point or concept
  • choosing strategic arrows and connectors help make sense of an overall message and ” how is this related to a bigger picture?”

As Sylvia further explored the concept of sketchnoting as a form of reflection, she noted that sketchnoting supports the reflection process by making thinking visible.

She explains her goals for using sketchnoting as a form of reflection:

Sketchnoting-as-by-tolisano Reflection: “We don’t learn from experiences, we learn from reflecting on the experience” John Dewey

Note Taking: How can we summarize main ideas visually?

Visual Thinking: How can we make thinking visual and visible to others?

Content Creation: How can we take concepts and content, in order to be able to share visually to appeal to a larger audience

Memory Aid: Doodling triggers memory after the event has passed. Visuals beat text when it comes to remembering

Process Ideation: Documenting the formation of concepts and ideas

Storytelling: Conveying of events through images and text Mind Mapping: Brainstorming and organizing of ideas, thoughts and connections
Sylvia has also developed an easy to follow “routine” to reflect when sketchnoting. Disclaimer: this is not meant to be a one- size- fits- all reflection routine,  just one of many ways one can take advantage of sketchnoting to support a reflection process.


If you are interested in reading more about sketchnoting by Sylvia, I would strongly encourage you to visit her blog!
For those of you who are interested in learning sketchnoting and prefer a step-by-step guid, I would recommend two resources:

sketchnote handbookMike Rohde’s book “The Sketchnote Handbook”

Rohd’s book is a complete guide to the basics of sketchnoting through to the design  of advanced sketchnotes.

According to Rohde, sketchnoting has several benefits:

  • engages your mind
  • creates a visual map
  • helps your concentration
  • taps our visual language
  • relaxing
  • creative, dynamic and fun

ade sketchnoting bookFree iTune U’s course: ‘Digital Sketchnotes for Visualizing Learning’

This is a great introductory course to help users learn how to use their iPads to visualize their learning through sketch noting. If you are sketchnoting on the iPad, you will need to choose an app that best fits your needs. If you are looking for a very simple and easy to use app, FlipInk or Adobe Ideas work well. For advanced sketchnoters try Paper 53.

Another great resource is Kathy Schrock’s sketchnoting page which contains a lot of links, tutorials and examples of excellent sketchnotes. You can also use twitter hashtag #sketchnotes to browse through links and resources sketchnoters share there.

flipink1- Flipink

Flipink is a neat app for you to sketch, share and organize your ideas, thoughts, write down your memos and can insert images,type texts,and draw graphics as you want, It helps you stay organized and improve productivity, capture ideas flashed through your minds, either at home, at workplace, or on the go.

paper532- Paper 53

Paper is the simplest way to express your ideas. You don’t need to know how to draw. From sketching out a new product design, to drafting a kitchen remodel or outlining a great business plan, Paper sets your ideas free. It works the way you think, with no fussy settings or distractions. Available with Paper are five beautiful tools to Sketch, Write, Draw, Outline, and Color.

adobe ideas3- Adobe Ideas

Adobe® Ideas gives you the ability to draw freeform vector illustrations wherever you are. Replace your pen and paper with a huge virtual canvas, customizable brushes, and pressure sensitive stylus support. With a Creative Cloud membership, easily sync Adobe Ideas projects to Creative Cloud and open them for refinement in Illustrator.

air sketch4- Air Sketch

Air Sketch is great for presentations in the boardroom, classroom, or on the go. Just fire up Air Sketch on the iPad and open the specified URL from any HTML-5 compatible browser on the local network. Your photos and drawings show up natively in the browser. There’s no additional client software to install, or services to subscribe to.

brushes5- Brushes

Brushes is a painting app designed exclusively for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Rewritten from the ground up, Brushes 3 is universal — the same version runs on both your iPhone and your iPad. Move paintings between your devices and keep working wherever you go!

sketch6- Sketchbook

SketchBook Express for iPad is a professional-grade paint and drawing application. Using the same paint engine as its desktop counterpart, SketchBook Pro delivers a complete set of sketching & painting tools through a streamlined and intuitive user interface designed exclusively for the iPad.

More Resources:

Langwitches’ Sketchnoting Pinterest Board
Sketchnote Scribes Google+ Community

Video Tutorials:
1- Visual Note Taking on the iPad by Karen Bosch

2- How to Create Sketchnote on an iPad by Linda Saukko

3- Visual Recording on iPad by Rachel Smith

4- The Basics of Visual Note Taking by Claudine Delfin


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