All About Mind Maps
Quite often we have talked about how easy it is to create a mind map with ExamTime. However, we have never fully discussed in detail what a mind map is. That is why we would like to tell you all about mind maps in this post. Read on to discover:
- What is a Mind Map?
- Differences between Conceptual and Mind Maps
- What are Mind Maps useful for?
- How to create a Mind Map
- 5 benefits of creating an online Mind Map
What is a Mind Map?
A mind map is a diagram which represents ideas and concepts starting off from a central idea. In order to generate a mind map, start by creating a main node and link related ideas, words or drawings to it through branches. You can then add secondary branches and as many nodes as necessary to reflect any ideas around that central thought.
The inventor of mind maps, an expert on the thinking process, Tony Buzan, encouraged people to perform radiant thinking and to use mind maps as a technique to enhance learning in his book “Use your Head”. As a result of Buzan’s teachings, nowadays mind maps are widely recognised as an effective method to improve your understanding and memory through the visual representation of information.
Mind Map or Concept Map?
Mind Maps are popular in many countries but they are known by different names and can be spelled differently. Some people spell the term as a single word; mindmap, while others spell it as two separate words; mind map.You might also find people referring to them as mental schemes or mental graphs. Quite often people refer to mind maps as a conceptual map or synoptic map, although, in reality, these are slightly different to mind maps.
Differences between a Mind Map and a Conceptual Map
As we mentioned earlier, many people use the term “conceptual map” or “concept map” to refer to a mind map. However, although these two have many similarities, they are technically different.
According to Joseph Donald Novak, an expert in conceptual maps, these are generally made of “circles or squares, connected by lines that contain words or phrases that represent the relationship between each other“. Sounds very similar to mind maps, doesn’t it? However, the main difference between them is that in conceptual maps, concepts are represented in a hierarchical way and that its connecting lines can point either to one direction or to both. Another characteristic of conceptual maps is that they can have a circular structure, something that never occurs in mind maps.
On the other hand, mind maps’ strengths are in their flexibility when it comes to expressing ideas, by allowing you to use colors and drawings and the possibility of dissecting a central topic to its core.
In any case, remember that you can easily create conceptual maps with certain structures using ExamTime’s free mind mapping software.
What are Mind Maps Useful for?
As we have just seen, a mind map is an organised, graphical representation of ideas related to a core concept. However, what you might be wondering now is what practical use you can make of a mind map. We are giving you a few ideas on how you could use mind maps to improve your learning:
Mind Maps as Study Tools
Being a graphical representation, mind maps are a great study tool for anyone who finds it easier to learn in a visual way.
Organise Ideas Using Mind Maps
Mind maps are also great if you want to organise your ideas and easily gain a general view of very wide topics. For example, if you are studying contemporary world history you might want to get a general idea of what happened in the Second World War.
Starting off from a central node, “World War II – 1939-1945“, you can attach additional nodes/branches to it to connect all the information that you got in class about this historical event.
Once you have generated your mind map, you will have a visual representation of any events related to the war; key people, dates, battles, countries involved plus any other information in your study notes you feel should be included. This way, all those ideas that were previously disconnected in your mind are now related and part of a wider picture that help you improve your understanding of the subject.
Another very common use for mind maps is to use them for brainstorming. Starting from a central idea, you can develop a concept until you get to an idea that is worth working on.
Have you ever tried drawing a mind map instead of taking notes. Instead of taking notes, word by word, of what the lecturer is saying, capture key ideas and link them together as the teacher continues with his/her explanation of a topic. This way you will be able to focus your attention on listening to what they are saying, rather than in writing. Regardless of whether you are an auditive or visual person, this method will be hugely beneficial for you.
Imagine you are trying to decide what degree to study. You can generate a mind map to list all the pros and cons of studying each degree. Your central node could be called “What Degree to Study?” and from there you could list all the study branches that you are interested in. Next thing you will need to do is add nodes with different reasons detailing why you should or should not study that degree. Once you have finished your mind map, if you find that there are more pros attached to one of the degrees than for others, you will know what to go for!
If you love to study history, you can also use mind maps to draw family trees of aristocratic families like the following example of the British Royal Family.
Planning for your Paper
When it comes to writing a report, whether it is a thesis or just a simple summary for a book, it is important to start by planning the structure of your paper. Mind maps can be of great help when doing so as they will help you to organise your ideas.
Guide for Creating an Online Mind Map
Doing a mind map is a very simple process and thanks to free online mind mapping tools like ExamTime, you can create a mind map in a digital format, rather than on paper – don’t worry, you can easily print your mind map too!
1. Choose a topic for your mind map.
2. Name your core node.
3. Let your imagination flow!
4. Add a branch to the central node with every idea that comes to your mind in relation to the main topic.
5. Apply the colours, drawings, font and font size that better adjust to your idea of what they represent.
6. Link additional nodes to your branches and even more linked to these branches. Add as many as you need!
7. Try to keep the text within each node as concise as possible.
8. Ask your friends for help to complete your mind map. They might be able to bring a new perspective and add nodes that you have missed. Read our “Quick Guide to Sharing on ExamTime” for more info.
9. Reconnect your nodes to other nodes. When you create your mind map with ExamTime, you have the flexibility to revisit your map and easily reconnect nodes to other nodes as required.
10. Your mind map is now ready! Remember that online mind maps do not need to be static. A mind map generated with ExamTime, is dynamic by nature i.e. you can go back at anytime and edit it to add more nodes or move things around if you want to!
5 Benefits of Creating an Online Mind Map with ExamTime
Generating a mind map online with ExamTime has certain benefits, compared to creating one using other methods. The following are 5 reasons why you should create your mind maps with ExamTime:
1. You can create mind maps online in many languages for free.
2. Create and access your mind maps from any device; smartphone, iPad, tablet, laptop, PC or Mac.
3. Share your mind maps with friends and groups or embed them in blogs and websites.
4. Convert your mind map into PDF format or into an image.
5. There is no limit to the amount of nodes that your mind map can have. You mind has no limits, so why should your mind map?
As you have seen, mind maps bring you limitless possibilities and creating them is no mystery. Get started now with ExamTime to improve your learning of complex topics in an easy and entertaining way.