Painting a Diary

My efforts to publish working–out–loud pieces have been thwarted by overwhelm. So let’s step back by a month. There was some learning from this summer’s holiday-domain during which I ran out of words. This is a meandering thoughts blog, I am trying to figure something out–solve a teaching dilemma. Any ideas are welcome!

If you need to breathe instead, listen or look at the Scottish summer rain for a bit.

I didn’t write.

My first holiday during which there were no words. No poems. No stories. No reflections. I had a word burn out. I did, however, still make photos, digital art and even began to work on some watercolour. So maybe it was just time for a different form of text–another language to access?

“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”

Pablo Picasso

What’s in a word?

In teaching we are using a multi-modal texts, evermore so since the pivot to online learning (Remember that one? I know it’s so 2020!). Having run out of words myself, made me think about my students who felt overwhelmed with the—admittedly sometimes dense—reading for one of my masters level courses. Keep in mind my students are peers, we all were overwhelmed to begin with. How can I help my students to access that learning with different forms texts? My own wordlessness left me with finding other pathways for thinking out loud and active reflection, using different materials and techniques to create text.

Eventually this moved into thinking visually about work related topics, from reflection about career path, thinking about theories, or planning projects and network activities.

I struggled particularly with finding words for my ViCEPHEC opening keynote (links open in new tab). I told the S.O. about my struggles and that I wanted to use storytelling for the recording. So he challenged me to begin with: A long time ago in a galaxy far far away … and while I was pondering how to frame the story, I created a space-glider and a spaceship in Bazaart. Again employing a different type of text to usher words into being. Thus drawing helped me to think. Now how do I draw or create other forms of text to help my students to think (understand)?

Ever since coming back from holiday I was wondering how to make better use of multi-modal text in my teaching. I gamified the research methods course and added a couple of podcasts, which were well received but I want to make the content more accessible—mixing visual and voice. Particularly as some of the theories, paradigms and methodologies introduced in the course are entirely alien to my learners. There are too many threshold concepts in one course. How do I help my students over the thresholds?

Ideas so far:

  • audiobook
  • comic strips
  • sketch-notes

What do you think? How do you explain, explore, and think beyond words?


      1. Sadly, no. It was a slightly undercover activity and not approved of by dept head or our university. It worked very well, though. We acted out and drew students into the situation and they became very engaged, staying on afterwards. It’s also pretty easy to do. Here’s something else I did, which was for a research project. “Do You Belong Here? — Coastal Creative”

        Liked by 1 person

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