Media 21 Student Shares Her Creative Approach to Mindmapping

Earlier this week, I blogged about about first efforts in Media 21 to use mindmapping as a strategy for thinking and inquiry as well as a springboard for discussion in our Fishbowl groups.  One of our creative mindmappers took a few minutes today to share her first two mindmaps that go  outside some of the traditional mediums and how mindmapping helps her as a learner.

Initiating Inquiry: Mindmapping and Fishbowl Discussions for Connecting and Building Background Knowledge

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Susan Lester’s 10th Honors World Literature/Composition students recently began a novel study of All Quiet on the Western Front.    Since students knew little about World War I, we gave students the opportunity to choose a World War I topic of interest to them ( a menu was provided but students could come up with their own topics, too) to research.  Susan and I decided to help students dwell in the connecting stage of inquiry by having students mindmap their research and then share those findings in a Fishbowl discussion group.  Using mindmaps that Howard Rheingold’s students created and published as our models, we gave students the choice for the tools and mediums they wanted to use to mindmap the key ideas and findings of their research on their topic.  Most preferred creating their mindmaps with concrete materials like paper and ink, but others like using Word or Bubbl.us.

After our Fishbowl meeting and having time to share our mindmaps last Tuesday, students shared their reflections on the effectiveness of mindmaps as a medium for sharing key ideas and information.

  • Students were generally quite positive about the process and indicated it was helpful in better discerning important information and big ideas as well as organizing that information; this feedback was encouraging since these were challenges students identified in our research  project last semester.
  • Other students shared they felt they were able to initiate and sustain a richer level of participation and engagement as members of their Fishbowls because the mindmap helped them easily remember key ideas they wanted to share and was a quick way to prompt talking points as opposed to looking a written reflection.
  • Several students also indicated they felt creating the mindmap helped them better synthesize and remember the information they were finding in their research.
  • Some students indicated they would enjoy having the option to create a mindmap rather than always writing a narrative reflection for Fishbowl discussions about their novel/book studies.
  • One student shared that the mindmapping helped her feel as though her Fishbowl now had multiple experts on different topics and that the group was able to cover a broader amount of information with more depth; additionally, she thought the mindmap sharing created a different element of fun for the Fishbowl discussion.  She described mindmapping as helping students to create a “3D” perspective about a topic instead of just “brushing the surface with a boring 2D” perspective.

A few students indicated they encountered difficulty in the mindmapping process and in looking at some student mindmaps, we could see others might need some help in the organization of their mindmaps.   For our next mindmapping endeavor, I think I will scaffold their skills by doing a group think and do a group exercise in which we create a mindmap together to help those who are struggling and to grow the skills of those who feel comfortable with that  strategy.  I am also hopeful I can encourage other teachers to try this strategy in other courses and continue to grow my best practices for teaching students mindmapping.

If you are using mindmapping as a tool for building and sharing background knowledge, what strategies or approaches are you taking help students learn this skill and medium?  I encourage teachers, professors, and librarians to share your ideas here in the comments.

Map Your Ideas with Mindomo

mindmap_unquietlibrary

After experiencing a creative breakthrough while running in the Georgia heat and humidity this morning, I was finally able to pull together ideas that have been swirling in my head all summer, ideas that have been at the edges of my mind, but that I somehow couldn’t seem to verbalize in a more concrete format.   As I’ve been trying hard to get these ideas committed to print and out of my head in preparation for a presentation I will be giving to my faculty next week, I wanted to provide a visual representation of these ideas.  I decided to lay the groundwork for my “presentation zen” edition of the PowerPoint by creating a mindmap using Mindomo.

Why Mindomo?  I first encountered an example of a mindmap created with this web based software at the beginning of January 2009; I unfortunately didn’t take notes on how I found this first example, but it impressed me enough that I knew I wanted to try it this summer.  At first, I had difficulty figuring out the user menu, but after fumbling around, I finally figured it out for the most part this weekend.

Some advantages of Mindomo over some other mindmapping software I sampled:

  • It is web based, so no special software is needed; you can enjoy the advntages of cloud computing.
  • Many different menu options for formatting and embedding content are included.  I especially love that you can easily embed  YouTube videos!
  • You can enable others to collaborate and add content to your mindmap.
  • Several publishing options are available, including publishing your mindmap as a web page or embed code.
  • Web links and videos work live in the web page version of your mindmap; viewers can also read your notes!
  • You can go with a free version that includes Google AdSense ads or pay to have an account with some additional features and no ads.  You  can do a six month premium account or a twelve month option; I decided to go with the six month option.

You can view my map by clicking on this link here. You can click on the numbers 1, 2, and 3 in the upper right hand corner to expand levels of topics and subtopics.  If you click on the “+” symbol next to a box, you can also expand the content.  In addition, you an adjust the view by using the slider bar in the lower right hand corner to increase or decrease the viewing area of the map.

The map is a visualization of my vision,  mission, philosophy, and goals for my library program for 2009-10.  By creating this map today, I can now begin to organize my PowerPoint, which will incorporate the principles of presentation zen I have used earlier this year.  I am hopeful that my multimedia presentation will capture the minds and hearts of my faculty either refresh or reinvent their perception of the potential and possibilities of our library.

In addition to the striking visual appeal and organization of the map, I especially like that I can add interactive content to make my map more organic and dynamic.    If you are looking for a tool to create memorable mindmaps, I highly recommend you give Mindomo a try!