Past Event! Note: this event has already taken place.

RESCHEDULED to January 2021- Sketching in Research: Theory and Practice

April 14, 2020 at 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM

Location:238 Azrieli Pavilion

RSVP required


Miriam Sturdee, Research Fellow, Lancaster University


Time: 4 Hours (with 1/2 hr break)

Sketching is a practical, hands-on activity which encourages active listening, creative and visual thinking, and can be used as a form of communication between diverse groups. Sketches can be artifacts, data, tools and are a practical assist in the design and development of technology and our interactions with it.

This short course aims to raise awareness around the practical uses of sketching in study, research and industry, and teach attendees the basics of sketching so that they can leave with the confidence to use these skills in their own day-to-day practice. Attendees should be able to reproduce what they have learned across domains and also be able to use their skills to collaborate with others using these visual methods.

This course will be split between two halves: for the first half participants will learn about the relevance and theory behind sketching, whilst at the same time learning beginners’ techniques; for the second half the course will address hands-on and applied methodologies to extend this beginners’ practice into practical applications which can be for either academic purposes or industry settings.

No prior knowledge or ability is needed. The expectation is that most attendees will be beginners, but intermediate participants are welcome to join in with all activities.

The schedule is as follows:

Part 1: Hands on exercises and background discussion

  • Introductions and Warm-Up exercise – A practical task to get people talking to each other and start making marks in an unhindered and inclusive manner.
  • Basic sketching skills – Easy mark making and confidence building
  • Sketchnote skills – Applied text/image vocabulary
  • Visual Icon library – Team-built icons around a central topic decided by participants
  • Discussion and feedback session

Part 2: Applied sketching

  • Sketching for Ideation – Iteration and design sketching
  • Visual Abstracts – Identifying visual constructs in text and mapping data into cohesive visual summaries
  • Telling stories – Scenario and storyboard generation and construction
  • Group task – Sketching “improv”, ideating, diagramming and storyboarding novel technologies for user groups.
  • Discussion and feedback session

The course instructor will be happy to engage in informal discussions following the course and offer guidance where asked. Attendees will be welcome to attend the linked talk on Visual Methods in Human Computer Interaction at a later date.


Miriam Sturdee is a research fellow at Lancaster University whose interests focus on the intersections of traditional creative practices and computer science. Prior to her current role, she held postdoctoral positions in data physicalisation (Lancaster) and InfoVis (University of Calgary). Prior to PhD she studied psychology and fine art, and held jobs in marketing and publishing design. This enables a view of technology from an outsider’s perspective: what works, what doesn’t, what could, or needs to change? How might we use creative methods to do this?