Guest Post: Sylvia Currie’s Reflections on the RosViz Graphic Facilitation Workshop

Nancy’s Note: In July Michelle Laurie and I ran another graphic facilitation workshop in beautiful Rossland, BC, Canada. In summer mode, I still haven’t written up my reflections. When I saw Sylvia Currie’s great post on her blog, I begged her to let me reblog it as a guest post (only the second in FullCirc history!) here. So THANKS Sylvia! I will follow up with my reflections and pointers to more of Sylvia’s great workshop videos.  Sylvia came to the RosViz 10 and returned this year as our social reporter. FABULOUS!!!

Reflections on a fantastic workshop


What happened at the 2011 RosViz Graphic Facilitation Workshop? I’m not sure where to begin! It was 2 1/2 days of pure fun, intense learning, lively networking, and the occasional emotional tug. I created this little video in an attempt to capture the experience, which of course will be most meaningful to the participants but hopefully will also give others a glimpse of what the workshop is all about.

Following the introductory evening session and graphic jam we launched right into some activities aimed to, in Nancy’s words, “L O O O O S E N up”, create the unexpected, and most importantly, raise questions in our minds about how this all feels. I mean, how often have you started a drawing with a sopping wet tea bag? Comments after viewing our gallery: I would have never created this if you had just given me a blank piece of paper and markers.

Tea bag art
Tea Bag Drawing Exercise
Tea Bag Drawing Exercise
Tea Bag Drawing Exercise

Giving a starting point, a tea bag splotch, we started to see potential — familiar images formed in our minds from the shapes we saw in front of us. It was a very quick exercise, and aside from some drippy canvases we were ready for a gallery walkabout within minutes.

The same principles were applied in another exercise which can best be described as musical chairs but without the chairs, and with markers and chalk. As soon as the music stops markers are lifted and on you move to the next canvas.

By the time we were finished rotating through each station we had a collection of stunning art that, in most cases, was quite different from what the original artist envisioned. Questions continued to emerge through participation: What did it feel like to draw on someone else’s work?

Musical Drawing
Musical Drawing

In keeping with Nancy’s approach to just dive right in, more challenging activities were interspersed throughout the workshop. Sure she was careful to lay a bit of foundation, but rather than gradually build up to the big crescendo (live graphic recording without any clues about the topic), these experiences felt more like check points. Wow, that was way more difficult than I thought it would be! And neat, look what I created in just 6 minutes! What really stood out after several practice sessions, debriefs, and plenty of opportunities to network (the power of the snack table!) was the comfort level in the room. We had evolved into quite the uninhibited group!

Looking back on the graphic recordings of Matt Cutts’ Ted Talk: Try Something New for 30 days it’s astonishing to think that these images emerged from a talk that was less that 3 1/2 minutes long. (Violette Clark invites you to participate in her 30-day challenge — a portrait a day for the month of August!)

Try Something New
TED Talk Graphic Scribes

There were some surprises as well. For one of the graphic recording exercises Violette Clark told her story and for all workshop participants this proved to be the most difficult exercise. I wanted to honour Violette and her amazing story, and I was afraid that I wasn’t doing it justice in my drawing.

During the debrief, Violette talked about how overwhelming it was to see her life story represented in all the the incredible drawings around the room. Through this exercise we all experienced how emotional this visual practice can be; I think most of us were fighting back tears at that point!

Another useful practice session was the icon jam. It’s amazing to me how often I can think of the perfect icon while I’m listening, but the right image just won’t form in my brain. Oh! The recycle symbol would go perfectly in this spot. Then my mind goes blank. Others in the workshop shared this same experience. Nancy led us through a couple icon jams to tap into both sides of our brains. Here are some creations from a “throw out, throw in” activity. Nancy also offers an open invitation to contribute to this icon collection.

We weren’t holding crayons every minute of the workshop. Our circle of chairs brought several debriefing conversations, a “fish bowl” activity, a chat with Susan Stewart from California via Elluminate (recording here) about her experiences using an iPad, and a final reflection on the entire workshop experience.

Susan Stewart via Elluminate

This sounds like a lot over a 2 1/2 day period, and believe it or not I’ve left out quite a bit! Other reflections on the Graphic Facilitation are continuing to pop up:

Also, the RosViz10 Facebook Group is bubbling, and you’re all welcome to join us. (Advance apology — we can’t seem to flip a switch to make this group public so you’ll need to wait for one of the admins to approve your membership.)

Next, while the experience is fresh in my mind, I plan to write about social reporting. But for now I’d like thank Michelle and Nancy for the opportunity!

Social Media in International Development – 10 min interviews

Flickr cc image from I need your help and recommendations!

I’m about to facilitate another workshop on social media in international development for the ICT-KM program of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). This is the third time for this all-online workshop. In this iteration, we are trying to pay more attention to context of use, rather than focus on tools, tools, tools. The best way I know of doing this is to start the conversation with some stories of use.

To that end, I’m starting to do some 10 minute podcasts with practitioners who are  using social media in their work,  particularly those who work in international development and/or science research for global public  good (as in agricultural research.)

Who would you like to hear from? Who should I talk to?

First up, I’ll be interviewing William Anderson cofounder of Praxis101 . Bill has wrangled with the issues of sharing scientific data with his work with CODATA where he is an Associate Editor for the CODATA Data Science Journal (, and in his role as the Co-chair of the InterAcademy Panel Task Group on Digital Knowledge Resources in Developing Countries ( ). He recently ended an eight year term as a member of the U.S. National Committee for the Committee on Data for Science and Technology and as Co-chair of the CODATA Task Group on  Preservation of and Access to Scientific and Technical Data in Developing Countries.

I already have a nice collection of longer podcasts including:

However, the value of a small library of short, engaging stories is priceless. So who should I interview? You? Someone you know of? Let me know! I’d like to harvest a few stories.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons picture, “Go Vote” on Flickr by M-C

Social Media in International Development Workshop

Do you work for an international development NGO? Then sign up now for the next Social Media Workshop offered by the ICT-KM Program of the CGIAR. Here are the details:

After a successful pilot online event (See blog posts about the event), the CGIAR, through its ICT-KM Program, is pleased to offer an online Social Media Workshop from May 25 to June 12 2009.

Moodle space

“Social media is using the Internet to instantly collaborate, share information, and have a conversation about ideas, and causes we care about, powered by web based tools.” – [We Media]

Social media offers a move from “push” communications towards a place where we can interact with our constituents and engage with them in ways we never could before. It enables us to network with colleagues and some stakeholders.

Objective of the workshop: Introduce researchers, communications professionals and knowledge sharing practitioners to social media tools and support their social media strategy development. As a participant, you will:

Obtain an understanding and appreciation of the role and value of social media.
Learn how to apply social media concepts and tools to both gather information and increase the dissemination of your information.
Learn how to apply social media concepts and tools for collaboration and interaction with your organization’s staff and partners.
Learn from participants of mixed professional and organizational backgrounds.

Outline of the 3-week event

Week 1 – Introductions, conversations and assessment of your communications needs and goals.
Week 2 – Social Media Tools wikis, blogs, twitter, file and photo sharing, and many more. You can join the exploration of a range of tools or start a new discussion on tools of your own choice.
Week 3 – Social Media Tools and strategies. How these tools can help you to achieve your knowledge sharing goals. Develop your strategy.

Number of participants: minimum 22,maximum 30

Language: English

Dedicated time: A minimum of one hour per day, asynchronous you decide when you go online, as well as two telephone conversations, one during Week 1 and the other during Week 3. Optional synchronous calls or chats may be offered if there is an interest.

Open to: CGIAR staff, partners, agricultural and development organizations

Platform: Moodle, Skype and/or telephone. If you choose to use a landline, you will be responsible for long-distance costs. You should have regular access to the Internet. Some tools may not be accessible for those with low bandwidths. You may need to check with your IT department, as some web-based services you wish to explore may be currently blocked in your organization and you may need to seek support to access them.

Facilitators: Nancy White (Full Circle Associates), Simone Staiger-Rivas CGIAR-CIAT, Meena Arivananthan CGIAR-WorldFish

Cost: USD 500

Please write to Simone Staiger-Rivas ( for questions and subscription by May, 15 latest.

Coming out of the Graphic Facilitation Closet

Well, I guess it is time to walk my talk and declare I CAN DRAW. After doing it on the side, teaching it to others, I realized it was time to declare this part of my practice on my website.

Today I put up a page on the workshops I’ve been doing, as well as outing my own graphic practices page. I hope to more formally structure the visual online offerings I’ve been playing with as well.  I say this also as I prepare to send in my registration to this years International Association of Visual Practitioners gathering in Montreal.

Here are the workshop offerings. They make nice additions to existing meetings, especially if you need to break up all the talk talk talk! What do you think?

Graphic Facilitation Workshops

Beyond doing graphic recording myself, I offer two kinds of workshops on the practice of graphic recording and facilitation. One focuses on the use of visuals associated with specific facilitation techniques and group processes, and the other is a simple, hands on introduction to graphic recording, also known as “I CAN DRAW.” I can also customize a workshop for your needs either alone or with one of my collaborators. (Image courtesy of Pen Machine)

Using Visuals With Group Processes & Facilitation Methods
This workshop originated at NexusU/Nexus for Change at Bowling Green State University in 2008. It offers an overview of how visuals can enhance group facilitation processes and methods such as World Cafe, Open Space, Appreciative Inquiry, and other methods, including interactive drawing methods that can be used to break the ice or open up thinking about an issue in a non-verbal manner. This workshop is part lecture, part conversation and a short hands on experience.

Description: Are you the kind of person who loves working with groups, who is interested in finding new ways to apply your listening and recording skills, and who learns best from doing and reflecting? Are you intrigued about the role of visuals in our group interactions and learning, especially in the context of whole systems change methods such as The World Cafe, Appreciative Inquiry and Open Space? This workshop is designed for a group of people to play and learn together to develop your their practice in graphic recording and facilitation in the context of group processes. (You can see some examples here ). Graphic recording at its most basic is capturing what is happening in a group or presentation. (To learn more, see )

We’ll take a glimpse into the world of graphic recording, provide time to experiment and play with a range of tools and techniques, and explore how they can support a variety of whole systems change methods.

If you are looking for more of the “how to” part, pair it with the “I CAN DRAW” workshop.

Length: 2 hours minimum up to full day paired with “I CAN DRAW”

I CAN DRAW – Hands On Writing on Walls

This playful experiential workshop takes place almost entirely at the drawing surface, ideally in a room where we can hang large paper all around the room or use constructed 4×8 foot drawing boards. This workshop can start with very introductory level work for those who are reluctant to draw, and can be customized up to a full day graphic recording/facilitation workshop which includes not only the recording, but preparation and follow up with digital images. For those who want more in depth techniques, I usually bring in another artist to show the advanced work. Then people can see a range of styles and expertise. I’m still on the “newbee” side of the practice. This can help make the reluctant more comfortable. We can look silly together safely.

Description: Want to draw your notes instead of write them? Visually capture what is happening at a meeting or in a classroom? Engage people beyond words and text? Then come learn to write on walls, the practice of graphic recording and facilitation. Learn some basic techniques and tricks that enable any of us to draw as a way of capturing and communicating ideas with each other. This is a playful, hands-on experiential workshop. You do NOT need previous experience or have to consider yourself an artists. We can ALL draw. Come prepared to get your hands dirty. Bring a digital camera to record the fruits of your labor.

Length: 1 hour minimum, ideally 2-3 hours. Can be paired with “Using Visuals With Group Processes & Facilitation Methods”

For a sense of a very short “I CAN DRAW” session, here is 6 minutes from a lightening fast 45 “taste of” workshop at Northern Voice in 2009.

Nancy White, on Graphic Recording 101 from jmv on Vimeo.

Testimonials and Blogposts About My Work

Learning to Draw Perfect Circles and Starfish People: Capturing Collaborative Energy

Meg Whetung, Communications Designer

(Used with permission)

Nancy White’s session on graphic recording (or visual note taking) had an approachable mood and her exercises engaged participants in exploration. Standing up with markers and pastels in hand, there was laughter and the letting go of any preconceptions we carried about drawing. As a graphic designer, I draw every day, yet I left this session with many new ideas.

Observing Nancy’s approach, friendly tone, funny anecdotes, and her detailed yet simple explanations and the effect she had on the group taught me how to encourage people to relax and participate in an activity they may not ordinarily be comfortable with.

Collaboration has definitely been a buzzword in our office over the past few months, and as a designer I’m interested in opportunities to collaborate with non-designers (clients, editors, web programmers). Nancy’s session made me think about getting everyone together at the start of a project, equipping them all with pens and paper and generating initial ideas together visually – potentially a fun and effective way start to a project.

Check out Nancy’s Online Facilitation Wiki for tools and discussion of these visual methods. While explaining the benefits of taking a visual approach, she notes that visuals are “open and inviting to meaning-making (while text can be experienced as more declarative).”

I think this makes a great case for using graphic recording techniques during brainstorming meetings, where the goal is to explore possible meanings and outcomes together.

CPsquare’s Connected Futures Workshop

Flickr CC image by takuya miyamotoIt’s time to register for the Connected Futures Workshop that begins April 20.

I’m on the team again this time holding the fort on week 4. My partners in learning/crime are John Smith, Bronwyn Stuckey, Shirley Williams and Etienne Wenger. We are using Howard Rheingold’s Social Media Classroom as our home base this round (we vary each time to add to our own learning!) Note, you’ll get a pre-press copy of the now-infamous and as of yet still unpublished “Digital Habitats: stewarding technology for community” book, plus a 6 month membership to CPSquare. So be there or don’t be square. (Sorry, I could not resist!)

It should be fun. Holler if you’d like more information. Here is the boilerplate!

Connected futures: New social strategies and tools for communities of practice is a five-week workshop for community managers, designers and conveners to explore social strategies and tools to support them (referred to by some as Web2.0). We anticipate offering it twice a year. This workshop is a hands-on, practice-shifting, dive into the use of new technologies to meet community needs. At the end of this workshop, participants can expect to:

  • Become more confident in managing and combining tools to support a community’s orientation and ongoing activities
  • Develop a deeper understanding of how new tools enable one another, are adopted and supported in communities
  • Have productive and lasting social connections with other participants, community leaders and community conveners.

New technology stewards are encouraged to join us. The workshop includes virtual field trips to successful communities and dives into the use of new tools. We will explore many readily available technologies, including web conferencing, teleconferences, blogging, RSS syndication, microblogging, social bookmarking and tagging, wikis, mashups, and social networking. Each aspect has the support of experts and leaders in areas such as organizational, educational, government and enterprise communities. Participants will work through a process of thinking through new social strategies and technologies to support the ongoing life of their respective communities of practice. Participants will also receive an advance electronic copy (PDF) of parts of the forthcoming book “Digital habitats: stewarding technology for Communities ” (Wenger, White, and Smith 2008).

See what previous participants have said about the workshop.


While this workshop is intended to be challenging, it is grounded in today’s reality for communities of practice, social strategies and new tools. We assume some experience with communities of practice and with technologies such as teleconferences, web forums or email lists. Our aim is to support practitioners: participants should be in a leadership role or intending to take one on, or be convening an existing community of practice.

  • Participants are expected to be conversant with basic notions such as domain, community and practice and have had experience participating in or organizing online events and learning activities (such as the Foundations of Communities of Practice workshop).
  • Participants should be willing to install, run and experiment with an array of tools (such as Skype) on their computers.
  • Participants should be confident to converse in English.
  • Participants commit to 20 to 40 hours of engagement over the 5 weeks. Since several phases and phase changes are designed into the workshop structure (we change technologies, modes of connecting, and frameworks), participants need to be attentive enough to make those changes with us when they are scheduled.

The workshop includes a lot of modeling by both workshop leaders and participants of learning interactions, stratagems, and tactics using a dozen different social technologies. We are all “teachers” and “learners.”

The workshop is designed to support:

  • Getting to know each other and each other’s communities (Community)
  • Creating “a workshop as laboratory” (Practice)
  • Exploring real communities, from an insider’s and outsider’s perspective to see community orientations & technology integration (Domain and Practice)
  • Considering the role and activity of the technology stewards in authentic situations (Practice)
  • Exploring the uses of social technologies to stay in touch with each other, as well as for sustained focus on a topic (Practice)
  • Experiencing the design of learning agendas and then configuring technology to pursue those agendas (Domain and Practice)
  • Articulate strategies to introduce new social technologies to a community (Domain and Practice)

We’re designing the workshop to support:

  • Getting to know each other and each other’s communities
  • Creating “a workshop as laboratory”
  • Exploring real communities, from an insider’s perspective to see community orientations & technology integration
  • Considering the role and activity of the technology stewards in authentic situations
  • Exploring the uses of social technologies to stay in touch as well as for sustained inquiry
  • Experiencing the design of learning agendas and then configuring technology to pursue those agendas
  • Articulate strategies to introduce new social technologies to a community

Readings from Wenger, White and Smith’s “Stewarding Technology for Communities” and several other sources on topics such as:

  • Communities of practice theory glimpse
  • Community technology stewardship
  • Tools and their Integration
  • Scanning the Technology Landscape
  • Orientations: community experience and configuration of tools
  • A More Distributed Future
  • A Learning Agenda

Tuition is as follows:

Standard rate $995
NGO, Non-profit employee $795
Student $595

Participants receive a free 6-month membership in CPsquare upon completion of the workshop.

If money is a challenge in this economy, write me directly to inquire about “FON” discounts. (Friends of Nancy).

Photo Credit: takuya miyamoto