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How sketchnoting can help kids who won't put down their devices

Purposeful doodling may keep kids from falling behind in the curriculum, experts say

Photo (c) Alena Yakusheva - Fotolia
Entertainment and instant gratification comes standard with every smartphone, and kids these days typically own multiple devices. While technology has helped to enhance the learning landscape in many ways, its effect on a child’s ability to focus isn't always positive.

Textbooks often have a hard time competing with smartphones’ reward system of likes, alerts, and social media activity. But a new form of note taking could make books and learning more appealing to device-obsessed students.

Sketchnoting is a purposeful form of doodling that caters to a variety of learning styles. Key points may begin to sink in as students use this form of visual note taking. In fact, experts say doodlers gain a 29% increase in information retention.

Works well for visual learners

The act of sketchnoting requires students to make hand movements and create visual representations, which makes it especially beneficial to visual learners.

Teacher and illustrator Red Rohl has a new book series centered around the benefits of sketchnoting. Heavy Sketches -- a graphic novel series containing illustrations paired with facts, fiction, and other educational content -- was designed with disengaged learners in mind.

Rohl says the sketchnote-inspired art in his series can ignite kids' love of reading by helping to make learning fun and engaging. 

Improves retention

"In the classroom, students have various learning styles and if they aren't tuned in, they are bored, disengaged, and apathetic. This causes them to miss educational opportunities and fall behind in the required curriculum.” Rohl said. “That discord is what started me on my mission to make a difference.”

He notes that visual learners may be better able to absorb information when given the ability to do a hands-on activity, such as doodling. Sketchnote inspired art can help engage students and improve their comprehension, says Rohl.

Rohl isn’t the only one singing the praises of sketchnoting. Educators are increasingly using sketchnoting as way of improving retention and learning among students, and adults in the corporate world are using it to remember key points made in meetings.

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