Monday, January 9, 2012

Mind Maps: A Powerful Tool for Collaboration and Learning

Happy New Year everyone! Now is the time when many people go about making great resolutions for things they want to accomplish during the year. We sit down, write out our plans and then sometimes, forget about our resolutions a few months later. Mind maps can help us to stick with our resolutions by creating a visual depiction of our goals that we can interpret and change as the need arises.

What is a mind map? A mind map is a schematic depiction of a main idea and related subtopics. An example looks like this:





It may also be conceived of as a visual organizing resource for one’s ideas. Here is an example of a mind map about the topic “living things”:





Whereas a written outline may depict a linear progression of ideas and topics, a mind map allows one to be a bit more creative and fluid with the organization and representation of his or her thoughts. Here for example is a mind map related to the topic “time management”:




Using a mind map can sometimes be better than making a traditional written outline because it enables one to literally see the “big picture.” This is particularly important for those who prefer to visually see images to make sense of them but may also be helpful for anyone who wants to simply organize potentially complex ideas in a more fluid and creative way.

Faculty can use mind maps in classes to promote collaboration and active learning with students. Both faculty and students can use mind maps to brainstorm on important topics.

So, where can you go to find out how to create and use a mind map? Well, again, life hacker recently reviewed five of the best mind mapping applications. They include

· Mind Meister

· Mindjet Mind Manager

· Xmind

· FreeMind

· iMindMap

Each of these applications will allow you to play around with creating simple and complex mind maps. Some like iMindmap and Mindjet charge a fee but all of the others are free. Another great free mind mapping resource is Edraw which may be found here.

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