Does Doodling Enhance Learning For You?

What do you do for 10 hours in an airport when one flight after another is canceled? Normally, I would pull out some stitching. But this week, weather-related travel delays gave me a block of time to study for an online course I’m taking. It helped that I found a relatively quiet spot, one private enough that I wasn’t too embarrassed to move my lips as I tried to make sense of what I was reading.

Urban Garden at O’Hare International Airport

For those who are following posts about the Coursera E-Learning & Digital Cultures class (tagged #EDCMOOC), the first lesson included Marc Prensky’s 2001 article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. I mostly got through it without moving my lips (not the case with the core reading). But what really helped was the visual reminder I got from studying in a seat beside the airport’s urban garden:

  • There are different ways to achieve a goal (i.e. with and without soil).
  • Ideas, like plants, need time, resources, and care if they are to grow and flourish.
  • When resources are limited, you have to choose what you will nurture.

The most helpful (to me) element of the course so far came from a post in a class forum by a student, which led me to this video on “visitors and residents” and online engagement.

So what does all this have to do with doodling?

I got to thinking about how being tethered to my laptop precludes movement, which I find beneficial for learning (at all ages). I’m probably not coordinated enough to watch videos and interact with the class community while walking with a cell phone in hand. But some type of movement might be possible.

So will you help me with an unscientific experiment that will take about 10 minutes? I know that’s a lot to ask, but you’ll get to see a video unit from my Cross-Knit Looping eCourse and further the cause of fiber arts education. Here’s what I’m asking:

1. Prepare to doodle using one of the following methods:


  • paper and pencil
  • air doodling with your finger
  • Or open a separate window in your browser to Pencil Madness, a free online sketching tool. (You can “deny” Adobe Flash permission to store information on your computer and still use the tool for this experiment.) If you’re using Pencil Madness, click one of the three tools at the far right of the menu bar below the canvas.


Pencil Madness
 2. Launch a video: Click this link to launch an 8-minute video on splicing wool yarn and winding center-pull balls, or view it in the embedded player at the bottom of this post.

3. Doodle while watching the video.

4. Answer a few questions. Click this link to open a short survey. The survey is anonymous. (Survey is closed now — thanks to all who participated!)

Even if you don’t watch the video or take part in the survey, I’d love to hear what you think: Does doodling enhance learning for you?

Cross-Knit Looping: How To Splice Wool Yarn & Wind Center-Pull Balls from Donna Kallner on Vimeo.

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Donna Kallner

fiber artist, teacher and explorer, inspired by ancient fiber techniques and all the ways contemporary fiber artists give old ideas a new spin