Visual Thinking for Opportunity

After launching my Visual Resume course on Skillshare last month, I realized this type of material would be very fun and beneficial in a live workshop setting. I imagined bringing in all kinds of professionals (technical and non-technical alike) and working through a series of creative exercises and technical demonstrations that would enable each participant to walk out of the session with a custom designed visualization.

Then I had lunch with Diamond James, who I met during an event last month at the d.School. She told me all about the work she was doing as part of the Center for Social Design program at MICA and I was inspired. This conversation, in conjunction with the recent AIGA Leadership Retreat breakout focused on Design for Civic Engagement, helped me realize that I can (and must!) do more for my community and for social good. 

 The adorable scholars and chaperones

The adorable scholars and chaperones

Flash forward to last Friday, when I conducted a visual storytelling workshop that blended techniques from all three of my Skillshare classes for a much different audience: twenty 12-year-olds currently a part of the DC Public School system. 

The students are participants in Higher Achievement, an organization focused on closing the opportunity gap during the pivotal middle school years. I have volunteered as a mentor with HA for several years and can attest to the incredible impact they have on building character, confidence, and skills necessary to succeed far beyond middle school and high school. MAGA Design, which neighbors the Ward One Higher Achievement Center, graciously offered their office space and several volunteers to help make it happen. 

My goal for the workshop was to get these sixth graders thinking about how to tell an interesting visual story about themselves to use throughout the high school placement process, which can be competitive thanks to the DC Charter system. The biggest challenge was deciding which activities would be most beneficial in a 2.5 hour time slot with shorter attention spans and less familiarity with the subject than I am used to. 

I was fearful that the scholars would find the subject boring, confusing, or even worse, irrelevant. But I was pleasantly surprised to see the wheels in their heads turning throughout each exercise. It was fun to hear each of them share their most unique characteristics that they identified through the mind mapping activity, or share their favorite data doodle that best describes them. Some even asked for extra worksheets to take home! 

 A blank and example data doodle worksheet for scholars to fill out

A blank and example data doodle worksheet for scholars to fill out

This brief experience has me excited to do more. I'm hoping to design a visual thinking/creativity weekly seminar that could run for an entire semester once school is back in session. DC folks, hit me up if you want to get involved!