I've since learned that there are other who take notes in similar ways -- a whole army of Sketchnoters! There's a great book and video by designer Mike Rohde who teaches it as a method of taking notes. For most, the desire for quality of artwork is not as important as thinking of symbols that will help you remember the concept being discussed.
Whenever I attend a workshop or training, I take the opportunity to practice. Here are some pages from a workshop I attended today where I learned a lot about the Collins Writing Program, a great new program that helps teachers of all subjects integrate writing across the curriculum.