Learning styles may be a myth, but I will make the unscientific assertion that I am a visual learner. I need to see things for them to sink in. In the past month, a handful of stunning visual learning tools have caught my attention.
1. Take Notes in a New Way
At a leadership retreat I attended last month, the two group facilitators were joined by a silent but powerful partner: Nora Herting, a graphic recorder from ImageThink. As the retreat unfolded, Nora drew images and highlighted key phrases to capture the spirit and content of what was said. Posted on the walls, the drawings became a map of our time together and conversation pieces in and of themselves. Here's a video of Nora and her colleague at work:
2. Zoom Past Powerpoint
A friend introduced me to Prezi, a zooming, nonlinear presentation tool which offers a welcome alternative to Powerpoint. In Prezi, instead of making sequential slides, you create your presentation on a big blank (electronic) canvas using font size, images and framing of text to create variety and emphasis. Come presentation time you literally zoom around your canvas, following a path that you set ahead of time or changing course as the mood strikes. I've only played around with Prezi online and have not yet used it for a presentation. I'd be interested in hearing from folks who've tried it out.
3. Learn from a Whiteboard
A growing YouTube collection of whiteboard-illustrated presentations by smart thinkers makes for interesting viewing. Think TED talks, with pictures. This format works for me because I am able to remember the main points of the talks I watch by recalling the words and images drawn on the board. Check out this talk by Daniel Pink on motivation:
4. Map Your Mind
Mind maps are hardly new, but they seem to belong on this list. Anytime I start a project or paper - or when I have a complicated issue to think through - I find myself organizing my thoughts using a mind map. A mind map is a visual, non-linear way to capture the relationship between thoughts and ideas. There is a lot of mind mapping software out there, but I prefer the pen and paper method. Mind map newbies may want to check out Tony Buzan's book on the topic for inspiration and how-to.
Below is one of my mind maps, one that I drew during a planning meeting for a retreat I was helping to organize. You'll get a sense of the organic flow a mind map can capture (spelling mistakes and all).
Has your organization or school made use of any of these learning tools? Do you think Powerpoint will ever die? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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