Scribing: Susan Kistler on Using Graphic Recorders

My name is Susan Kistler. I am AEA’s Executive Director, and this week’s post is coming from on the ground at our annual conference in San Antonio. What a week it has been with over 600 sessions, 1200 presenters, nights out on the Riverwalk, morning planning meetings, and buzz throughout the hallways.

This year, we’re starting a scribing program where we have attendees at over 40 sessions taking notes and compiling their lessons learned to share with aea365 readers. You’ll see their contributions throughout the coming year but I thought that I would start things off.

I attended session 284 I See What You Mean: Applications of Visual Methods in Evaluation. The interactive session focused on visual facilitation and recording. Back on February 27, I wrote about Network Weaving (see post), and bringing together Jara Dean-Coffey and Terry Uyecki based on their common interest in visual facilitation methods – Terry has used graphic facilitation as part of her evaluation work and Jara had written about employing graphic recorders on aea365 earlier in the month (see post).

Lessons Learned: We learned both from Terry and Jara as well as from one another in the audience. Here are a few of the key take-aways:

  • There is a difference between graphic facilitation and graphic recording: Although there are variations, graphic recording is a bit like taking minutes, only in graphic form; while graphic facilitation involves the recorder interacting with the audience/stakeholders (recorders may have back to audience while facilitators are more likely to face the audience).
  • Graphic facilitation/recording does not work with every group or organization: Jara stressed that there had to be a match and the audience raised questions related to context, preferred learning styles, and organizational culture to find a best match.
  • Graphic facilitation/recording works in multiple contexts: There was particular discussion of its usability when visualizing complex systems, working with community groups and youth, and creating a shared vision. Graphic recording was noted as a good tool in logic model development and to come to common understanding in order to move forward with evaluation planning and organization development.
  • Graphic facilitation/recording is not all about graphics: Terry stressed that you need not be an artist to be a graphic recorder – the goal is to use symbols and pictures that are readily understandable but are not necessarily perfectly rendered. Graphic recordings often involve a lot of words and showing linkages between and among words and concepts.

Rad Resources: Jara and Terry have been kind enough to share:

Stay tuned for more scribing from Evaluation 2010!

3 thoughts on “Scribing: Susan Kistler on Using Graphic Recorders”

  1. Rita, good questions!
    I have never seen it done on a computer screen – it basically creates more of a mural. Sort of the world’s largest post-it note I suppose.

    Using post-it notes would be one way of recording the outcomes of a meeting, graphic recording another.

    It is worth noting that the presenters stressed that one need NOT have artistic talent. The focus is more on symbols and simple representational pictures and visually documenting the relationships between and among the components.

    We were shown examples where the resulting graphic became a motivational poster that kept a team on target. The product can be photographed and the photo reproduced. Unlike post-its (which I love), the product from graphic recording can be more sharable and an ongoing discussion piece. One of my challenges with post-its has been that the product is ephemeral.

  2. Perhaps I missed something. Is there a way to do this on the computer and a projected screen. How is it any different than a big post-it note or easel pad and markers, except that who ever drew these examples has artistic talent?

  3. Pingback: Evaluation 2010 Post-Conference Links | Eval Central

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