Mind mapping was invented in the late 1960s by author and lecturer Tony Buzan as a method of realising mental potential by focusing on the brain's ability to remember better when items are either linked to each other in patterns or appeal to one of the senses. This is done by using words, lines, logic, colours, images, symbols and even sounds.
Using these techniques can help pupils think. The maps also help teachers review progress, identify misconceptions and incorrect links and connections.
A mind map has four characteristics: the subject is represented by a central image; the main themes of the subject radiate from the central image as branches; minor themes are linked to the main themes; and all the branches are connected in a nodal structure.
Mind-mapping software can provide information in a format that some students find more accessible than verbal or written formats. And, as most software will link directly to widely used software packages such as Microsoft Office, it is easy to produce high-quality, easy-to-use mind maps.
It can be an invaluable aid when researching topics and preparing presentations. A good piece of mind-mapping software is unbeatable for emphasising structure, allowing you to visualise complex ideas with a combination of text, graphics, colours and designs. When printed, they can also provide a valuable resource for future learning and teaching; they could even be stored online to allow remote access via the school network or intranet.
Mind maps can change the way students take notes, giving them a format where they can see how everything fits into the bigger picture, unlike standard linear note-taking.
They can be used to encourage creative writing by giving a structured strategy before writing something - demonstrating the relationship of ideas - which can be much more easily converted into a draft than conventional brainstorming.
One school even uses mind-mapping software to tease out the individual learning styles of its pupils. This information is then shared among teachers and pupils, enabling programmes of work to be tailored more closely to their needs.
As with a lot of ICT the limit is simply your imagination.
Mind Genius www.mindgenius.com
MindManager www.mindjet.comuk MindMapper www.mindmapper.com
Tony Buzan www.mind-map.com
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