A mindmap (also written mind map and also known as a word network) is a diagram used to represent words and ideas linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea.
Mindmaps are often used with brainstorming activities to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas. In other words, what crops up during the brainstorming session is put down on paper or a whiteboard in real time as a mindmap.
In this way they function as an aid in study, organization, problem solving and decision making. They are, in reality, similar to concept maps in that they are graphical tools for organizing and representing relationships among concepts.
As they link ideas, mindmaps are said to be better suited to learning new words and/or revising old ones than the traditional list format and students should be encouraged to make their own ones for homework, etc.
- The idea is to recall as much as possible around the central concept. As you will think of things faster than you can write, there should be almost no pause. Don't worry about organising or ordering the mindmap as this will, more often than not, take care of itself. If it doesn't, you can always ‘tidy it up’ a bit at the end of the exercise.
- When being creative in this way, let your mind ‘run free’ as far as possible. Trying to think about where things should go or whether to include them will only hamper the creative process.
- Start by drawing a picture in the centre of the page - the more colour you use, the better. As they say, an image is worth a thousand words. Not only does it help memory, but it also encourages creative thought.
- Use drawings (and colour!) throughout your mindmap – for the same reasons as above.
- Printed words (capital letters) are usually best, as this makes for easier reading later. The time saved when reading back more than makes up for the extra time you may have taken to print.
- Write the words/expressions on lines, and connect each line to another line. This will give a basic structure to the mindmap.
- Write only one word/expression per line. This allows more flexibility and each word/expression has more free ‘hooks’.
Criticism or mindmaps
Not all teachers are convinced of the utility of mindmaps.