Schools and Universities

“Picturing ideas” for Education

I’m very fortunate to be able to work with the education sector, Education Departments and research organisations to help schools, universities and education providers ‘Picture their ideas‘ through visual storytelling. Below are some examples of how I have drawn out the ideas of our educators, researchers and students. I just love my job!!

Positive Behaviour for Learning Conference_DrSuePillans2022

Ministerial Student Advisory Council

It was a great priveldge to draw out the important discussions of the very first Ministerial Student Advisory Council (MSAC) meetings hosted by the Queensland Minister for Education. The first meeting focused on Bullying and Cyber-bullying with student representatives from across Queensland schools. So many important issues and suggestions were raised on how we can tackle bullying in schools, including “Bullying being an all of community issue”. The second meeting focused on student “Mental health and wellbeing” with the third meeting focusing on the “Future of education“. Thank you to the Minister, Department and the students for allowing me to be part of your meetings to capture your very personal and important discussions. You can more about the MSAC here:

Bullying & Cyber-bullying


Mental Health & Wellbeing


Future of Education


Preservice Teacher Roundtable

What an energetic and open workshop to “draw out” at the “Preservice Teacher Roundtable” for Teach Queensland (part of the Queensland Department of Education). The focus of the Roundtable was to address current and future workforce challenges and plan for the future of the teaching workforce in Queensland.

The preservice teachers who attended were so honest, open and willing to share their stories about their teaching journey to date. And I actually had goose bumps when listening to these stories and the passion that these preservice teachers have for their profession. One of the most common themes from the preservice teachers was that every person in the room wanted to be a teacher to “make a difference” in children’s lives and “help children be the best versions of themselves”. Being able to listen to and picture these heartfelt and honest discussions makes me so positive about the future of education in Queensland 🙂

Thanks to the amazing Teach Queensland team for inviting me back to “picture” these important and inspiring stories.

Teach Queensland_preservice teacher roundtable_DrSuePillans2022


Creating Future Summits

I am honoured and thrilled that I continue to be asked back by Griffith University to draw out their Creating Future Summit series for education.

Teaching post pandemic Summit

This is what 29 talks, multiple panel sessions and think tanks hosted across 10 countries in a hybrid setting looks like! It was a great pleasure getting to draw out my third Creating Futures Summit for Griffith University on “Conversations that matter: Teaching & teacher education in a post pandemic world”.

Creating Futures Summit_Griffith University_

This was a fast-paced, high energy Summit full of inspirational stories on how educators around the world struggled, survived and thrived throughout the pandemic. Based on these important stories I illustrated the BIG PICTURE as a journey of conversations that matter.

I was thrilled to be back in the room again after two and a half years of remote graphic recording. And the reaction of the Summit delegates was just amazing, with one of my favourite feedback from a teacher:
Dr Sue Pillans is very talented at both drawing and identifying the core elements of discussions. I hadn’t experienced anything like that before and was incredible impressed.”

Creativity Summit!

I was delighted to draw out the discussions of the Queensland Creativity Summit for Initial Teacher Education hosted by Griffith University. As a creative, creative educator and alumni of Griffith University the Summit was very close to my heART! The Summit was jam-packed with presentations, panel discussions and amazing pop-up performances by some very talented and creative students from our Queensland schools. One of the quotes that resonated with me throughout the Summit was “Imagination is the thinking and creativity is the doing“, and based on the discussions its time we work together to create a creative culture in our schools to help students prepare for the future.

AND check out the time-lapse of the Creativity Summit here:


Teaching Summit!

As a Griffith University alumni I was thrilled to be invited back to to draw out the important discussions of the “Queensland Creating Futures Summit: a focus on the teaching profession” hosted by Griffith University with the Queensland College of Teachers and the Queensland Council  of Deans. Below is the time-lapse video used as the ‘sneak peak’ for the event with the finished visual story below, along with my illustration “Action Walls” to inspire the ideas of our education change makers.



“Picturing ideas” for research

SHARKS and beachgoers behaviour change

As a marine scientist and artist its so FIN-tastic when I get the chance to combine my two loves and help other scientists to “picture their ideas“. As part of this research team we were carrying out community workshops along the NSW coastline with the University of Technology Sydney, James Cook University and the CSIRO for the NSW Department of Primary Industries to ‘draw out’ beachgoers behaviour regarding sharks.

This project focused on “Reducing risk in human shark interactions in NSW: a participatory approach to management and planning”. As you can ‘sea’ from the visual stories I created with the community below we had a great time picturing ‘Have sharks changed your beach experience?‘ with beachgoers from Ballina, Byron Bay and Lismore. And it was great being part of this research team who were using community feedback to improve interactions with nature. You can ‘sea’ the artworks illustrating the findings and recommendations of this research in the Summary Report.


To illustrate the key findings and conclusions of this project I have also created tailored infographics which have been used in the Final Report and provided to the community groups and schools who participated in this research project. You can ‘sea’ more of my infographics and illustrations at

You can view the Summary Report below at

Screen Shot 2020-05-14 at 10.07.53 AM

Restoration planning

I love drawing attention to science so it was a great pleasure to graphically record the “Social factors as a bridge between restoration planning and implementation” Workshop hosted by The University of Queensland’s Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science (CBCS).

As a UQ alumni and adjunct research scholar with CBCS I was very excited to picture this workshop.

This workshop was held over four days, across multiple countries and time zones and between many University’s and organisations. These types of wide reaching workshops are exciting to picture, particularly when the researchers and practitioners are so passionate!

I received some amazing feedback from the workshop attendees too, saying “This style of summarising workshops should be made mandatory for every workshop!”

…Of course I agreed!

Visual storytelling is a powerful way to capture and communicate not only our science stories, but all of our stories.

Children & Innovation Symposium

As a Griffith University alumni I was thrilled to ‘draw out’ the research papers of the “Children & Innovation Symposium: Developing frameworks for recognising and understanding the role of children in innovation during the deep past“, hosted by Griffith University. It was such an interesting day listening to speakers from all around the world discussing children from the deep past from their different research perspectives, from Archaeology and Anthropology to Primatology and Psychology. It was a great pleasure drawing out the ‘big picture’ of children and innovation, as you can see from the visuals below!

And check out how my visual story was used post this event below and at and published in the journal of Evolutionary Anthropology which you can view at


It is always great to see how my visual stories are used post events. Here you can see that the visual helps to reinforce the information and provides a quick reflection point post the conference. A great visual legacy of your event, or in this case your research

Positive Behaviour for Learning Conferences

Thrilled to be invited back to draw out the “Positive Behaviour for Learning” (PBL) Conferences, hosted by the Queensland Department of Education. This is such a great and positive Conference to be graphically recording at!

Equity: its everybody’s business

The Positive Behaviour for Learning Conference in 2022 was themed ‘Equity: its everybody’s business‘ and the conference was full of inspirational and important presentations from researchers, educators and teachers, with over 750 attendees. It was a great pleasure getting to draw out the keynote presentations and hear these stories from all over the world.

Positive Behaviour for Learning Conference_Education_DrSuePillans2022

Positive Behaviour for Learning Conference_Education_Equity_DrSuePillans2022

I’m always a bit overwhelmed by the amazing feedback I receive when drawing live at Conferences. The 750 teachers and educators who attended the PBL Conference were so excited by my graphic recording and kept asking me ‘How do you keep it so neat and straight‘??! I always mention when I get that question (which is a lot) that I got the ‘Little Miss Neat’ award in Grade 2. The feedback from the attendees at this Conference was just wonderful and you can see below that they had a lot of fun interacting with the drawing and there was standing room only when the final artwork was revealed!

Positive Behaviour for Learning Conference_Education_

Positive Behaviour for Learning Conference_Education_

PBL: A systems approach to school improvement

At the 2019 PBL Conference I was drawing out the Keynote, Plenary and international speakers to draw out the ‘big picture’ of PBL to illustrate how we can use a systems approach to school improvement. A very important, interesting and inspiring conference, which as you can see from the photos was a lot of fun too!


You can see more of the visual story and how my clients have taken the ‘big picture’ of PBL and shared the key themes from this conference below (and how they are holding a competition to gift the visual to a PBL school!!) and at

National Education Summit

I was so excited to be invited to present and draw at the National Education Summit held in Brisbane for the first time! I presented/pictured three seminars below for educators:

  • Sketchnoting in school
  • Creativity in the classroom
  • Live sketchnoting of Troy Waller’s talk from Microsoft on “The inclusive classroom”

The response from teachers and educators was amazing and I always love to hear from teachers that “we really need you in the classroom”! It was also great to hear how Microsoft are using technology in the classroom to help EVERY student access education. I would just like to know now how I can use my ‘visual thinking’ and  transform it into ‘digital inking’ to help EVERY student picture their ideas.

I was also SUPER excited when the amazing guys from Sharpie GAVE ME pens and an essential writing kit. WOW! My life is now complete and I can now continue to “uncap” the creative education possibilities for every student!



Communicating to protect the environment

At events I am usually the one busily drawing out the discussions vs presenting the information so I was delighted to be invited to present at the Network of Environmental and Social Scientists (NESS) Annual Forum held at The University of Queensland, which focused on “Communicating to protect the environment”. I presented on “How to make a comm-ocean” using the art and science of storytelling, whilst also live sketchnoting the other presentations. What a great day of storytelling, as you can ‘sea’ from the great feedback below!


Sketchnotes of some of the presentations from the 2018 NESS Forum showing “pictures are powerful” in sharing our stories to help protect the environment



Parent engagement

I was delighted to be invited to graphically record P&C Queensland’s State Conference which focused on “Every child Every chance: Parents as partners in learning“. I drew out the important group discussions of parent engagement with parents, teachers and principals across the issues of:

  • Rural and Remote Schools
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Parents and Families
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • What does good parent engagement look like?

My graphic recording was also videoed as a time-lapse which I look forward to sharing here soon…so watch this space…


A Strong Foundation for a Changing World

I was honoured to be invited to graphically record the largest gathering of Queensland School Principals in 40 years as part of the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority’s (QCAA) 2017 Principal’s Conference. The focus of the Conference was the introduction of the new Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) system which is the most significant change to senior curriculum and assessment in Queensland since the early 1970s! It was a great experience to draw out the presentations and also be able to share my story of living my life with ESTEAM to the 1200 Principals! And Dr John Griffiths, CEO QTAC, summed up what I do to “Picture your ideas” in his fabulous feedback below, WOW!!

You captured the ideas so well and made the complex simple and the simple compelling“, Dr John Griffiths, CEO, Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC)

And check out this Time-Lapse of my graphic recording including picturing the very inspiring talk by Dr Neil Carrington (CEO, Act for Kids) ‘Leading transformational change in a school context’, photographed by Tony Phillips.


International Education & Training Summit

It was great drawing out the excited discussions of the Study Queensland Pop-Up at the International Education and Training Summit held in Cairns. To celebrate the outcomes of the Study Queensland Positioning Framework for the Department of Trade and Investment Queensland Minister Kate Jones announced the new brand and tag line for this project #startheregoanywhere. I was then very busy capturing the BIG ideas and interest in the new brand on the BIGGEST drawing I have done to date!! You can see more about how I visualised this Summit at Government groups.

Ideas to Impact at University

As a University of Queensland (UQ) Alumni I was thrilled to get the opportunity to work with UniQuest (, the commercialisation arm of UQ, for three years in a row! I was invited as the Graphic Recorder for UniQuest’s annual ‘Commercialisation‘ Workshop with UQ researchers from across all of the University sectors from health and biotechnology to social and sciences. As you can see from the photos below it was a grand occasion in the very regal Customs House where we discussed ‘Ideas to Impact‘ and I translated the researchers commercialisation journey into visual stories — including the BIG picture of how to “Transform your research into global impact”.

Examples of how researchers engage with and get to reflect upon the visuals throughout the two-day workshop. I love when my visuals get a thumbs up too!!

WATCH how I bring the Commercialisation Workshop drawings to life through time-lapse photography by Surge Media (Woolloongabba, Brisbane)!!



I LOVE when organisations I work with use the visuals I create for them in their workshops and beyond! Check out how UniQuest used the visual story from the previous year’s workshop I visually captured to brand their workshop for this year! AND how they displayed their ‘works of art’ for all to see in their foyer from their most recent workshop! JUST FANTASTIC TO SEE!!


The ‘Roadmap’ to Research Commercialisation with UniQuest’s Dr Dean Moss (CEO) and Cameron Turner (Director, Commercial Engagement, Science)

Testimonial: “UniQuest recently engaged Dr Sue Pillans to graphically record a two-day workshop. Sue’s creativity and enthusiasm brought a fantastic energy to our process – both in the planning phase and over the course of the two-day event. She was eager to gather as much background as she could before the workshop to ensure she had the best chance of capturing the key messages we wanted to convey. It was clear that as her well-planned creations came to life over the two days that she was accurately absorbing and interpreting the proceedings as they were unfolding, and translating them in a vibrant and innovative way. I would recommend Sue to anyone considering the addition of a uniquely creative, interactive element to a meeting, workshop or conference“. Dr Dean Moss, CEO, UniQuest Pty Ltd

A birds eye view of the Commercialisation Workshop where I was drawing out the stories of the UQ researchers (…that’s me in the left hand corner)!!

All smiles!! People engaging with their visual stories at the UniQuest Commercialisation Workshop


Examples of some of the visual stories from the Commercialisation Workshop; journey to impact


Visual storytelling on the ‘big stage’ with the ‘Roadmap’ to research commercialisation for UQ

Principals Conference

For the past two years I  have been invited to draw out the presentations and discussions of the Queensland Secondary Principals’ Association Conference, held in beautiful Palm Cove in Far North Queensland. The theme of the two-day Conference changes each year to focus on the BIG issues facing Principals, including “The BIG business of Leadership” and “Facing the Future Together“. The Conference brings together Principals and Deputy Principals from the Far North Queensland region and invited Principals and Researchers from around Australia. It’s always a busy two days of visually capturing the talks from our inspiring teachers and leaders and what a reaction I receive on my visual storytelling approach! Thank you!


Dr Sue was a wonderful addition to our conference. In her unique way of translating a speakers keynote into a memorable visual graphic was highly regarded by the room full of Principals and Deputy Principals from schools. It was an excellent way of triangulating what we were hearing and seeing from the presenter with the graphical summary by Dr Sue. Often complicated topics and fast speaking presenters but Dr Sue took it all in her stride! I highly recommend her.” Richard Graham, Principal Tully State High School


STEM for Girls

I was very fortunate to be able to ‘draw out’ the ideas, issues and challenges of Girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) with some inspiring women of STEM – Karen Peterson, the CEO of the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP of the USA) and Dr Lindy Orwin of the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). I graphically recorded Karen’s series of presentations and workshops which were held at a range of USQ’s regional Queensland campuses during National Science Week. Karen’s visit focused on sharing her STEM-collaborative experiences in the US with our STEM delivering teachers, educators and researchers. Below is a summary of the visual storytelling from Karen’s visit ‘down under’ and you can see also see a great summary of Karen’s STEM trip through her Storify at: National Girls Collaborative in Australia.

USQ Salon

Lights, camera’s, action!! I live recorded in front of camera’s Karen’s presentation on “Collaboration – the key to strengthening the capacity of STEM programs to effectively reach and serve underrepresented girls in STEM” at the USQ Salon located at their beautiful Toowoomba campus.


STEM Workshop

I graphically recorded Karen’s presentation and workshop on ‘Making your STEM engagement efforts count for everyone’ at USQ’s Springfield campus with STEM students and educators.

Queensland STEM Network – Workshop

I also got the great opportunity to graphically record feedback from the Queensland STEM Education Network (QSEN) at their workshop during National Science Week where we discussed ESTEAMME (Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, Maker Education).

Google Hangout

I also participated in my very first Google Hangout for ACCELN (Australian Council for Computers in Education Learning) during Karen’s visit to Australia where she talked about the National Girls Collaborative project “Encouraging girls to pursue careers in (STEM) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics”. I graphically recorded live Karen’s conversation by putting the “A” (Arts) in STEAM! You can see Karen and I in action here at the Google Hangout:

Environmental Conflict

I was honoured as a UQ Alumni to be the Graphic Recorder for the Network of Environmental Social Scientists (NESS) coordinated by The University Queensland. The annual NESS Forum brings together environmental and social scientists, researchers and practitioners from a wide range of organisations to discuss how social science can contribute to solving environmental challenges. The focus of this Forum held at UQ (St Lucia campus) was ‘Understanding and Solving Environmental Conflict’. You can see how I ‘drew out’ the issues and challenges of this complex issue across three major themes of Energy, Biodiversity and Climate Change at the Forum Storify.

Science into Schools

As a Graphic Recorder I get invited to schools to ‘draw out’ the science of our Living Oceans. Examples of my visual stories for science in schools are below and you can see more of how I’m putting the ‘A’ in STEAM for our youth, schools and teachers via my Working with kids.

Here I’m graphically recording my school incursion about the science of the Ningaloo Outlook project with High School students at Exmouth District High School. Both the students and the teachers were very engaged with this visual storytelling approach about the science and technology of ‘Tagging along with the megafauna of the Ningaloo Marine Park’ and have invited me back next year to teach the students how to ‘draw out’ the science! Drawing is Thinking!!

I also get the great opportunity to “picture the ideas” of some very clever and dynamic scientists. I have graphically recorded for Dr Julia Playford from the Queensland Government on a number of occasions when she presents to schools and teachers on the topic of “Environmental Science for Improved Decision Making: a case study in the Great Barrier Reef“. Here is one of the visual stories I created ‘live’ whilst Dr Juila presented to 170 students. As you can see the student reaction was very positive! Graphic Recording really helps to communicate often complex issues, such as science. You can see more of how I’m working with kids at

imageTestimonial: “The lecture was informative, interesting and entertaining and the graphic illustrations an informative addition. Sue, the number of students and staff who photographed the graphics speaks volumes for your contribution.” Teacher, Indooroopilly State High School, Brisbane


Science into policy

For Teachers

I have also graphically recorded for the University of Queensland’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Program for Secondary School Science and Mathematics teachers. At the CPD day Dr Julia Playford presented to the Queensland science and maths teachers on ‘Science to support government policy with examples from the Great Barrier Reef’, which I graphically recorded ‘live’. I had such a positive response from the teachers, they thought this was a great and unique way of capturing and communicating science. That’s me in action below!

For Researchers

Drawing upon my experience as a policy-maker in the Queensland Government I regularly engage with University students, researchers and staff to discuss ways of using science to inform public policy. My graphic recording extends into creating Info-graphics to help illustrate ideas and issues, as shown by the below diagram, which I created for an article I wrote for the University of Queensland, entitled “A Roadmap for Science into Policy” which you can view.

*Please note the use of my graphics and visuals need to be attributed to me and remain unaltered unless written permission is given as all graphics, images and video’s are Copyright © 2023 Dr Sue Pillans