IDIG Ontario

Today I presented at the Instructional Design Interest Group at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. It was a great group of about 60 IDs from across Ontario.

I’m giving a similar workshop in Gimli, Manitoba in May so I was happy to experiment with some ideas and get some feedback from folks who know about teaching and learning.

The day started off with Dr. Joe Kim, a cognitive psychology professor from McMaster who shared some excellent insights about how we can improve teaching and learning in lectures.

@ProfJoeKim #idigOntario keynote #viznotes Durable Learning

I used this as a jumping off point to discuss how I use doodling in class as a way to self-regulate towards effortful, focused attention. This facilitates moving the content of conference talks from my working memory into my long term memory. Since 2011, I have drawings for over 300 talks. It seems mind boggling to me but I love how my drawings act as anchor points for my memory and allow me to recall so much from each session.

I was able to incorporate some really cool stuff into the session, starting with the standard, “I can draw” circle that I learned from Nancy White so many years ago. After that, we played around with Nick Sousanis#GridsGestures activity, to map the shape of our day.

I’ve been a big fan of Nick for ages and I love to reference his book Unflattening whenever I can. Breaking the barriers of text in academia is a huge accomplishment. Also, the book is stunning and brilliant so I think everyone should have a copy.

After practicing shapes, we then did a Liberating Structures activity: Drawing Together to identify a professional challenge only using 5 basic shapes. I used this as an icebreaker for this new group to get to know each other and connect. I always get mixed reviews with this activity. People love connecting and discussing but constricting the drawing to just 5 symbols annoys people who love to draw. On the other hand, it liberates those who feel they can’t. I’d like to make both groups happy, possibly by adding the option to create your own symbols but I’m afraid that would make the activity too complex.


As part of this new domain,, I’ve been trying different subdomains and in particular, SPLOTs. I am totally chuffed that my  totally worked as an image collector. [[side note, I’m very grateful to cogdog for his work in creating these smallest possible online tools (or whatever the acronym du jour is). I have recently become a patreon supporter and I recommend others do too]]

I did discover that some emails did not work because of SPF (Sender Policy Framework) set up by their mail client servers. Not sure how to get around that other than ask everyone to use their gmail. There is a feature on the splot collector to just have a form but I love the ease of emailing. I’ll have to revisit this before May!

I rounded out the session showing some ways people can practice their new visual skills. They can see examples at the Extend Assignment Bank and I encourage everyone to play along. ExtendEast is going on right now and Extend West begins in May. Get on board the Extend Ontario fun train!

Another side note: this is my first real blog post at and I feel sad for abandoning I wonder if each of these can have a specific purpose? Thoughts or ideas welcome.


Update: Resources from the day at IDIGOntario

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