Webbing

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A hand-drawn webbing visual

Webbing is a graphic organizer strategy that provides a visual of how words or phrases connect to a topic, similar to mind mapping. It is used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing. A complete webbing visual is often simply called web or mind web because of its resemblance to a spider web. The term webbing is usually restricted to topics concerning learning and education.


The constituent elements of a so-called web are arranged according to the importance of the concepts. Elements are classified into groupings, branches, or areas, with the goal of representing semantic or other connections between portions of information. Webs may also aid recall of existing memories.

By presenting ideas in a radial, graphical, non-linear manner, webbing encourages a brainstorming approach to planning and organizing tasks. Though the branches of a web represent hierarchical tree structures, their radial arrangement disrupts the prioritizing of concepts typically associated with hierarchies presented with more linear visual cues. This orientation towards brainstorming encourages users to enumerate and connect concepts without a tendency to begin within a particular conceptual framework.

Webbing can be contrasted with the similar idea of concept mapping. The former is based on radial hierarchies and tree structures denoting relationships with a central governing concept, whereas concept maps are based on connections between concepts in more diverse patterns. However, either can be part of a larger personal knowledge base system.

Characteristics[edit]

Webbing is, by definition, a graphical method of taking notes. The visual basis helps one to distinguish words or ideas, often with colors and symbols. It generally takes a hierarchical or tree branch format, with ideas branching into their subsections. Webbing allows for greater creativity when recording ideas and information, as well as allowing the note-taker to associate words with visual representations. Mind webs differ from concept maps in that mind webs focus on only one word or idea, whereas concept maps connect multiple words or ideas.

A key distinction between mind webs and modelling graphs is that there is no rigorous right or wrong with mind webs, relying on the arbitrariness of mnemonic systems. A UML diagram or a semantic network has structured elements modelling relationships, with lines connecting objects to indicate relationship. This is generally done in black and white with a clear and agreed iconography. Mind webs serve a different purpose: they help with memory and organization. Mind webs are collections of words structured by the mental context of the author with visual mnemonics, and, through the use of colour, icons and visual links, are informal and necessary to the proper functioning of the mind web.

Webbing guidelines[edit]

  • Start in the center with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colors.
  • Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your mind web.
  • Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters.
  • Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line.
  • The lines should be connected, starting from the central image. The central lines are thicker, organic and thinner as they radiate out from the centre.
  • Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support.
  • Use multiple colors throughout the mind web, for visual stimulation and also to encode or group.
  • Develop your own personal style of webbing.
  • Use emphasis and show associations in your mind web.
  • Keep the mind web clear by using radial hierarchy, numerical order or outlines to embrace your branches.

This list is itself more concise than a prose version of the same information and the mind web of these guidelines is itself intended to be more memorable and quicker to scan than either the prose or the list.

Uses[edit]

Webbing can be used for:

  • problem solving
  • outline/framework design
  • structure/relationship representations
  • anonymous collaboration
  • marriage of words and visuals
  • individual expression of creativity
  • condensing material into a concise and memorable format
  • team building or synergy creating activity
  • enhancing work morale

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