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Mind Mapping with Technology

This article looks at the advantages of using mind maps and a few of the software programs that makes it easy to construct mind maps.

Mind Mapping with Technology

Mind Mapping is related to the family of brainstorming. The other close members of that family include, concept mapping and topic maps. These are all strategies that educators have been using since Joseph Novak, a Professor at Cornell University in the United States, popularized the idea back in 1970. The strategy is linked to a popular learning theory called Constructivism. This, in a nutshell, is where the learner constructs his/her knowledge. It applies to how people learn and the nature of learning. It can be seen then that Mind Mapping is pretty much steeped in pedagogy and as such should be given the attention it deserves in the teaching/learning process that takes place in the classroom daily.

What is Mind Mapping?

Mind Mapping is a diagram that represents the thoughts/ideas of a particular person. There is a central key word in the middle from which ideas are generated in a graphical way. It is non linear which means that ideas are not represented in one line but more in the form of radial tentacles which can represent varied thoughts, not limited to just one idea and is open to changes and modifications at any time.

Why is Mind Mapping Important?

Using mind maps has obvious advantages and noted author and educational consultant, Tony Buzan has done a lot to highlight these advantages. Buzan has written much on how the brain works in particular how mind mapping helps to generate and organize ideas/thoughts. Buzan says a mind map is like a photograph of ones thoughts, and memory works with key ideas. He points out that no one thinks in a linear fashion. His views would support the teaching strategy of making connections while reading or taking notes. It is often felt that learners develop a better understanding of concepts when they are able to make connections. The more connections made, the easier it is to grasp the concept as these act as a scaffold from which new knowledge is built on previous knowledge.

How to teach Mind Mapping

Now Buzan suggests a way of teaching/using mind maps that departs a little from the norm. He says that doing a mind map in one colour is not the best approach. As he puts it, “One colour is a monotone of colour. Mono and tone is equal to monotone and a monotone is monotonous. If something is monotonous, what word do we use to describe it, boring.”

Buzan suggests doing mind maps in colour.

How Technology Helps

The best practices when doing a mind map would be to utilize existing technology that makes it easy to produce a mind map rich with colour and even with hypertext capabilities. Today’s digital learners are very motivated when using the computer to learn. Two popular programs that are compatible with both Windows and Mac computers are Smart Ideas and Inspiration. Like any software, one has to use a hands-on approach to become fully conversant with the tips and tricks in order to make full use of them. Many of them come with templates that also make it easy for the new user to learn how to use them.

Going a step further with the technology, there are also apps that can be used on mobile devices. For example, for the iPhone and iPad there are many to choose from: Mind Note and iThoughts are just two of the more popular ones. A big advantage of iThoughts is that maps can be projected on a large screen via VGA. The diagrams below were done using Mind Map in the first instance and then iThoughts.

This first example is made from Mind Note.

This is an example of iThoughts.

 The Conclusion

The great things about using these programs is that the learner will enjoy using them and they give a graphic representation of what they have read, or showing their thinking process that will enable them to organize their thoughts for writing assignments, for revision of notes taken or just to create connections from reading assignments.

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Comments (1)

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