Prior to learning this science and art of mind mapping, I used outlines and webs occasionally, which I mistakenly thought were the same things as mind maps.
When I actually remembered to do an outline or web for pre-writing – something I am much better at enforcing my students to do than myself – I realize now that I was actually limiting my thinking to linear logic. In other words, I would force my ideas in a structure that would not reflect how the ideas where related to each other. True mind mapping works with your brain and all the interconnected ideas rather than going upstream and working against it. Now I use mind maps on a daily basis with everything from writing this post and brainstorming to problem solving and even note-taking during conversations and phone calls. It has made me a deeper and more creative thinker.
Guidelines for Mind Mapping:
Here are some show notes from the podcast interview, “Theatre of the Mind: Michael Gelb and mind mapping”:
1) Start with an image in the center because pictures are worth a thousand words and make the idea more memorable. This also brings the right hemisphere of the brain, the creative and imaginative side, into the thinking process. When I begin a mind map with a simple sketch or doodle I have noticed a new holistic level of thinking that I have never utilized fully before (and this is coming from someone who can’t draw)
2) Print keywords, single information-rich words, on the lines radiating outward so they do not float and waste space. This was a major misconception I had about mind mapping. Before I was really doing webbing where you have bubbles on the end of each branch. I realize now webbing is limiting because the bubbles waste a lot of precious paper real estate when you are trying to get all your ideas out and connected on one page.
3) Use colors. I must admit I haven’t implemented this yet.
Careful: mind maps can theoretically connect on and on and never end. It is helpful to take a break and get some distance from it. Mind maps are complete when your problem is solved.
Resources & Applications:
I will agree with Leondaro that nothing will replace themethod of a using a pencil and a blank sheet of paper for creatively mind mapping. But since my rediscovery of mind maps, I have found two very fun digital mind mapping applications, both are free and have high educational impact for teaching and learning.
The first is Bubbl.us, a web-based application that allows you to create, edit, print, email and share your brainstorming webs. You don’t even need to register for an account to try it out, get on and have fun making, swinging, dragging, and even popping the bubbles online.
The second tool I have tested and use is a free opensource software application that you need to download and install called FreeMind. It has some more options and gives you the ability to save files on your computer.
So I close with a recommended “homework” assignment:
1) Click on the following link to open a new window and start listening to the Podcast interview: “Theatre of the Mind: Michael Gelb and mind mapping”
2) While listening to this podcast click on this next link to open up another window and try out Bubbl.us – trust me you will have fun and your brainstorming will never be the same.
3) Please post any questions, suggestions, or comments below.