This paper reports on the relation between sketching, visual facilitation and design processes when master students develop digital learning designs. The paper builds on a previous study that investigated students’ use of selfproduced
visualisations during the design process. Although the study did not deal with visualisation, and students were not trained to draw, the participants made extensive but unacknowledged use of visualisations. In the present study, a new
group of students from the same master programme were taught how to draw as a central component of the design process in order to investigate how this might expand their use of visual facilitation and sketching to drive collaborative processes, design decisions and theoretical reflections. As design practices enter new interdisciplinary domains, in this case digital learning design, the aim was to explore how humanities students can act as designers by adapting different design approaches and visual methods in particular. The empirical data, including teaching observations, students’ visual productions and interviews with 27 students from nine groups after completing the course, were drawn primarily from an explorative case study in which masters students developed digital learning designs to solve a problem framed by an external stakeholder. Students’ ways of producing visualisations in the different phases of their design process were analysed in terms of four design genres (explorative, investigative, explanatory and persuasive). This sociomaterial analysis traced how drawings and drawing activities unfolded during collaborative group processes. The findings confirm the potential of drawings as a means of developing ideas, collaborating in different design phases and presenting and discussing design ideas with target groups and external stakeholders. Furthermore, findings revealed that drawing activities became a significant pedagogical consideration in the students’ digital learning design and data collection, but also that the students lack an academic terminology for articulating these processes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th conference on E-learning
EditorsCarsten Busch, Martin Steinicke, Tilo Wendel
Number of pages7
Place of PublicationReading, UK
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International
Publication dateOct 2020
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-912764-79-2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
Event19th European conference on e-learning ECEL 2020 - Berlin, Germany
Duration: 29 Oct 202030 Oct 2020


Conference19th European conference on e-learning ECEL 2020
Internet address


  • visual facilitation
  • sketching and drawing
  • collaboration
  • digital learning design
  • higher education


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