Mind maps are visual representations of interrelated ideas or concepts. They can be produced by individual learners but, in the context of active learning, really come into their own as a collaborative activity where teams need to reach agreement on the final representation.
Mind maps can be drawn on paper, on a whiteboard etc, or can be created using a variety of digital mind map tools. In the latter case, Koznov and Pliskin (2008) note that it is more important to concentrate on creating a good conceptual mind map rather than on the tool itself.
As there is a plethora of free (or not) mindmapping software available, and as the offer is constantly changing, we simply suggest you conduct a web search for the term ‘Mind Map’ and test a few tools. Many teachers also blog about such tools and provide information about those which are best suited to particular activities.
Although Mind Maps can be used by individual learners as a way to organise their thoughts (as a self-reflection or note-taking tool), they really come into their own when produced collaboratively, as in this context they help develop a variety of interpersonal soft skills, where learners will have to explain and defend their choices, and where the final result is the product of collective sense-making.
The following scenario is an example of classroom mind maps (CMM) for Building Knowledge and visualizing knowledge construction (Stokhof, de Vries, Martens & Bastiaens, 2014-2015).
Over the course of the semester, learners progressively update a Mind Map to show how their knowledge of a particular topic has evolved. Copies of the Mind Maps from week 1, week 2 etc are saved and displayed (in the classroom and/or online) to show the evolution.
The results are discussed each week and the teacher provides scaffolding.
Tips for teachers:
“Pay attention regularly to the relation between questions and the key concepts in [the] CMM and point out connections between different questions and answers. Stimulate the exchange of ideas and sources of information while investigating the questions” (Stokhof et al., 2014-2015, slide 3).
Peer feedback can be organised based on a rubric. The rubric itself can be designed in collaboration with the learners themselves deciding on appropriate assessment criteria.
Sample scenario for Mind Maps:
Paperless student on YouTube Everything you need to know about Margin Note 3.
Real use case of Mind Maps: Paperless student on YouTube How I study in Margin Note 3.
Koznov, D., & Pliskin, M. (2008, October). Computer-supported collaborative learning with mind-maps. In International Symposium On Leveraging Applications of Formal Methods, Verification and Validation (pp. 478-489). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
Stokhof, H., de Vries, B., Martens, R., & Bastiaens, T. (2014-2015) Scenario for supporting Question-Driven Learning with digital mind mapping https://bit.ly/34fj9V5
Willis, C. L., & Miertschin, S. L. (2006). Mind maps as active learning tools. Journal of computing sciences in colleges, 21(4), 266-272.
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