Using Mind Mapping Tools to Promote Independent Learning and Study Skills

Mind mapping is a revolutionary approach to both teaching and learning. Using mind maps as an innovative thinking tool in education helps students to visualise and externalise concepts and understand the connections between different ideas. It is commonly used in presentations, critical thinking, brainstorming, decision making and project management.

Mind maps are highly effective visual aids that enable students to group together different ideas and enable teachers to present ideas visually and assess their students’ conceptual development and understanding. Studies have shown that the use of mind mapping improves results, enhances simulation learning and makes a significant contribution to a positive learning experience.


The benefits of mind mapping in education
Mind map

Mind mapping helps students to understand and absorb information. Research shows that the use of mind maps increases critical thinking and memory skills, particularly for students who are visual learners. Mind maps capture each individual’s thought process and make it easier for students to communicate and present their ideas.

The diagrammatic form of mind mapping is a useful tool for successful study skills and independent learning, as students can recall information more easily through creating mind maps and can show understanding of cause and effect.

There are significant benefits of mind mapping in education for teachers, too. Teachers use mind mapping as a creativity building tool, whereby they can encourage students to look at problems from a new angle and introduce discussion and debate about the relationships between ideas. One of the key benefits of mind mapping for teachers is that the visual nature of these thinking tools allows teachers to monitor and assess their students’ understanding of the topics covered. By doing this, they can structure future lessons so that they can fill any identified gaps in learning and further develop students’ knowledge and understanding.


How mind mapping works in education

Mind maps always begin with a core concept or idea which is often represented with an image or single word in the centre of a page. Once the core concept has been chosen and visualised, branches are then created that represent single words which connect to the main concept. From there, sub-branches can be created that further develop ideas and concepts from the main branches. All of the ideas and concepts are connected to the overall theme of the whole mind map; this allows the teacher to engage students with the bigger picture as well as the finer details. Through the creation of a mind map, students can understand the interconnectivity between ideas.

Mind maps can be created in two key stages – brainstorming and mind mapping. The brainstorming stage is also known as the “free thinking” stage where the idea is first visualised and written in the middle of the page. Ideas should flow freely and all input is valuable. In the second stage, students can begin to map the relationships between the ideas and crucially identify the type of relationship between the ideas. The type of relationship could be cause, effect, similarity or contrast. Causality in particular introduces the concept that one idea might cause or be caused by the other.


Mind mapping softwarepointing to the mind

The paper-based form of mind maps is very limited compared to the powerful capabilities of today’s mind mapping software. This software allows teachers and students to produce mind maps which have expanding and collapsible topic branches so that you can move and store an unlimited amount of information. When you move a topic within mind mapping software you move the core branch idea too, so that you are free to constantly create and amend new ideas. This software can keep pace with students’ creative thinking and isn’t limited to the constraints of a piece of paper.

Mind mapping software can store documents, links and notes, creating a comprehensive store of information. You can export information to other software and use it to produce presentations. This software is highly flexible and dynamic and is an excellent tool for mind mapping in education.

Some of the most popular and effective examples of mind mapping software available in education today are MindMeister, MindMaple, Inspiration, The Brain and Bubbl.us.

Mind mapping remains a highly effective tool used by both teachers and students in education. It is particularly beneficial to visual learners and can significantly improve the retention of knowledge for students who are revising for exams. The concept of mind mapping has been around for several decades, but thanks to the advancements of mind mapping software this higher order thinking tool continues to evolve and improve.

Along with mind mapping software, educational videos are another essential resource for visual learners. Using educational videos will transform students’ engagement and help them to retain information about the topic at hand. BBC Active Video for Learning has a large collection of educational videos which are a perfect learning tool for your next lecture or class.