Talking about practice what you preach! – This is really what we did during the webinar about using visuals with Nancy White. We were choosing images, discussing images, drawing pictures alone and drawing pictures together. It was an eye-opener that working with visuals is much more than selecting a nice image to illustrate your text: drawing can be a powerful learning intervention.
The power of visuals is that it involves another part of the brain, which influences the directions of discussions. Visuals are engaging, by engaging both emotions and invoking sense-making. Some visuals are culturally sensitive but there are also symbols which work across all culture, for instance the spiral as a symbol of change. Some people may feel resistance to drawing because it missing the structure they are craving for. One of the lessons we learned is that images without text will have a more open interpretation, an image with text is already interpreted by the owner. Hence you have to think carefully how and if you want to combine text with images.
Visuals can be used a variety of function – to illustrate an idea, – to clarify (like a model), – to stimulate curiosity, – to negotiate meaning making. We have to be conscious about how we use visuals – is it simply about making the online page look more attractive, is it to contextualize, or to stimulate curiosity? For learning purposes as a facilitator you can use visuals as well for meaning making. Videos are also powerful. Having the voice of a certain perspective on video can lead to people taking in the information differently then when presented in text.
Some interesting online exercises for trainers and facilitators – for inspiration
- Ask people to share an image online on a topic before an online meeting (for instance in a padlet or boardthing). During the meeting you can invite people to group the images and invite a conversation about it. Especially inviting people to interpret images and to ask questions.
- Ask people to brainstorm during an online meeting on a topic through text. Then regroup or ask people to pick an interesting aspect. Here you don’t use images. However, you visualize the conversation because it is visible for everybody.
- Do a visual summary of an online discussion for instance in a wordcloud, mindmap or with images
- Ask people to draw individually on a part of an online whiteboard
- Ask the group to draw collectively on a whiteboard
- Use videos – a creative use of videos was shared where each stakeholder had a video.
A list of resources if you want to do more with visuals
- Liberating structures, see for instance drawing together about face-2-face drawing
- The noun project ‘creating the world visual language’ through symbols
- Rich pictures by Checkland as part of the Soft Systems methodology, see also this resource
- The book Ruimte door beelden by Judith Zadoks
- Boardthing as online whiteboard for drawing together. Be aware that the chat is not working on the ipad.
- Kinestetic modelling by John Ward
- Group works deck
- Idea rating sheets