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Joyce He and Kenneth Fernandez

Joyce He and Kenneth Fernandez

Joyce He and Kenneth Fernandez,
LDT '19

Communicating with images

When Joyce He (left) first came to the United States from China as a college student, taking notes was “a painful process,” she remembers. “It was hard for me to show that I understood the material, to demonstrate my competency when English was standing in the way.” Sometimes, if she recognized a word but wasn’t sure how to spell it, she would draw an image to remember the concept.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Fernandez was working as a product developer at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching when he took a class at the Stanford, where he learned about a growing trend: sketchnoting, a form of visual note-taking using basic images, shapes and diagrams.

Now both master’s students in the Learning, Design and Technology (LDT) program at Stanford Graduate School of Education, Fernandez and He are working to make sketchnoting a more accessible practice. “When you first see people taking sketchnotes, it looks very artful,” says Fernandez. “That’s a big barrier.” 

The pair are developing a game to help people, including English learners and people with learning differences, build their confidence and a visual vocabulary for sketchnoting. In the game, learners—transported to an unfamiliar location and unable to speak the language—need to communicate through drawings. 

“We’re trying to debunk the belief that you need to be an artist,” says Fernandez. “The point is just to get an idea across.”

Fernandez and He will introduce their project to the public at the 2019 LDT Expo on July 26.

July 19, 2019
Photo by Holly Hernandez

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