Become a Rockstar Scribe is a terrific new online video course that teaches you how to become a more fluent visual thinker and graphic recorder. Developed by Alphachimp Studios, this excellent program helps you develop mastery in the basics of drawing, typography, sketching, mapping ideas, building your own graphic recording toolkit and techniques for cleaning up and sharing your drawings with others.
Books like Dan Roam’s The Back of the Napkin and Dave Gray’s Gamestorming have helped to popularize visual thinking techniques, but haven’t gone far enough in teaching you, step-by-step, how to actually conceptualize and record information visually. Become a Rockstar Scribe fills this gap with a comprehensive set of video lessons, creative exercises and community with fellow learners.
More than meets the eye
This is no ordinary video course, where you go through each module on your own and then forget about it. Rather, this program resembles more of a traditional classroom course: Become a Rockstar Scribe is only offered a limited number of times per year. After you sign up, Alphachimp’s managing director, Diane Durand, spends 15 minutes on a call with you, to better understand what motivates students to sign up for it and what they hope to learn from it. Seriously? Who does this any more? This level of commitment is rare, based on the number of e-courses I’ve experienced.
“We want people to understand that there are real people behind this course, and to continue to improve it in response to the needs that our students tell us about,” Diane explained in a recent phone conversation.
What’s included in Become a Rockstar Scribe
The course consists of 6 modules, each containing 4 to 8 brief videos. They are brief, playful and informative, and do an excellent job of showing you, step by step, how to perform each visual recording technique. At the end of each module, students must complete one or two creative exercises. The quality of the video sessions is excellent. Obviously, the Alphachimp team has put a lot of effort into this product to make it a top-notch learning tool. Each module builds upon the previous section and is supported with additional videos, references, suggested reading and PDF documents.
Participants are encouraged to get to know each other in the forums, while where Diane and her husband Peter are frequent visitors. They are definitely not absentee landlords, but are deeply involved throughout the course, posting weekly announcements and answering questions.
The Durands recognize that students of this course are busy people. Become a Rockstar Scribe is designed so you can work your way through it at your own pace. Participants are encouraged to login at least once a week, to facilitate effective communication with the course instructors. If some students want to quickly consume the entire course over a period of several days, they can do that, too. But from what I can see, you’ll get much more out of it if you do the creative exercises and actively participate in the forums. Peter Durand emphasizes that being a graphic recorder, standing in front of a whiteboard or a flipchart, is a different experience than doodling in a notebook or on the screen of a tablet. It requires a different skillset, which the course teaches.
Let’s be honest: I’m blown away by the level of commitment that Diane and Peter Durand have made to make this e-course a fun, fulfilling and successful experience for its participants. I was expecting just another typical e-course: Just a collection of videos and nothing more. But this course is something much more special, both in terms of content and execution. Both Peter and Diane emphasize that visual thinking is a tool to get work done, and the content of Become a Rockstar Scribe is designed to help you make that happen.
When Alphachimp ran the Become a Rockstar Scribe course for the first time in early 2012, Diane Durand says she was blown away by the stories of the participants, who came from all walks of life and from many different countries. “Their backgrounds and motivations couldn’t have been more different. But what they shared was a passion for learning more about how to be a visual thinker. They sense, as we do, that it’s going to become a very important skillset in the years ahead,” she explained.
So what’s in it for you?
So what, you may be saying to yourself. I’m a mind mapper, not someone who sketches. But think about the benefits of becoming the idea recorder in your organization:
The person who steps up to the whiteboard or the flip chart and takes charge of it controls the room. That’s not to say that it’s a bully pulpit where you can interpret what people are discussing through your own “lens” – but you DO gain an opportunity to help shape discussion and take a stronger leadership role in the meeting. That’s powerful!
Meeting participants develop an emotional connection to the ideas being recorded and to you, according to Peter Durand. If you’re trying to persuade people to make a decision or support something, having them connect their thoughts with your sketches and diagrams is a big plus!
As the recorder, your role is to help the people you’re working with to better understand complexity and make more informed decisions on what to do next. That helps you add more value to your organization. If you are the facilitator of that process, you benefit from increased visibility with people who can influence your rate of advancement in the organization.
Visual facilitation expert Sunni Brown says it best: “Visualizing content helps us piece it together in ways we might otherwise never see. It helps us play with information, re-examine it, recombine it, and essentially, rediscover it… Information that can be used to solve problems deserves to be looked it in various ways. And when we arm ourselves with only text, verbal language, lists and bullet points, we’re not really giving both hemispheres (of our brains) a chance to shine. Why on earth would we do something like that?”
Visual facilitation and graphical recording matter because they are important tools you can add to your problem-solving toolkit. I believe that learning these skills will help you to become a better mind mapper as well. That’s been my experience as I have explored other forms of visual thinking.
A worthwhile investment
Become a Rockstar Scribe isn’t inexpensive. At US$497, think of it as an investment, as you would any other continuing education program. This one will help you to think help you to think more fluently, and will provide you with benefits worth far more than the cost of the course itself.
The combination of learning, practice and community it offers is a potent one, and is aligned with the best practices of adult learning. As the marketing manager for a training company, I know how important a blended curriculum is to helping students to learn and retain knowledge. You need to learn with your mind and then do with your hands – that’s the key to anchoring knowledge in adult minds.
Also, this course takes excellent advantage of a learning strategy called “chunking” – rather than fill students’ heads with a ton of knowledge, Become a Rockstar Scribe takes topics one at a time. You watch a video on drawing simple shapes, for example, then immediately transition to a creative activity where you practice what you just learned. Then, it’s on to the next topic. According to a wealth of research in the training industry, this is the best way for adults to learn.
Don’t believe me? Think about the last 5 business books you’ve read. How much of their content did your brain retain? Not much, I’ll bet. That’s because simply viewing a set of videos or reading a book isn’t enough. It only places information into short-term memory, but does very little to help you expand our skills on a sustainable basis. That’s why blended learning matters. It doesn’t just create a temporary learning “blip,” but helps you develop new habits and practices that will continue to serve you well in the months and years ahead.
The Durands’ deep level of involvement at the beginning and throughout the program is a big plus; it’s hard to believe that Diane Durand devotes as much time as she does to input discussions with each student. But I’m convinced that it’s a key to the success that students experience in this unique program.
In short, the learning model the Durands have devised, and the platform they’re using to deliver Become a Rockstar Scribe, are first class and worth every penny, in my opinion. What puts it over the top in terms of value, however, is the devotion put into this course. That’s what turns it from a valuable e-course into a transformational learning experience.
To learn more about this powerful program, which I wholeheartedly recommend, please visit the Become a Rockstar web page.
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