Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mind Maps to the Rescue

Mind maps have come to my rescue again. This time I was struggling to become proficient with some complicated (to me) educational stuff for a meeting where I might have to actually speak with knowledge. In prior meetings with this group I had experienced the uneasy feeling that everyone could speak this unfamiliar language but me. Of course, it wasn't a different language--it was English with a whole lot of jargon.

In advance of the meeting where I might have to speak, I created a mind map which included what I felt to be the important points and vocabulary. I linked similar items and relationships. Then I studied it every day. The initial process of organizing the information and creating the mind map helped me assimilate the information, too.

I only shared the mind map with one person from that group who also admits his facility with the concepts and jargon is less than what he would like. His experience will be different with a ready-made mind map, (from mine because I created it), but as he's also a visual learner, I think it might help.

I am reminded of another time I was stuck for a way to communicate a multifaceted idea of mine. The idea was to be communicated visually rather than verbally or with text only. This would be a poster session with a display on that tri-fold science fair cardboard sold at craft and office supply stores. This should have been a no-brainer for a lover of mind maps like me, but it took about a week of rumination before it dawned on me. I made the mind map in the shape of an apple tree with the main concept on the trunk. The branches each represented a higher-level subconcept, and the leaves and apples represented the next level of detail. It worked intellectually and the browns, greens and reds grabbed the attention of attendees at the event.

The moral of these stories is this: mind maps are not only organization and memory tools. they are dynamic methods for learning, teaching and communication, whether in the form of an apple tree or in a complex computer-generated diagram. Save information, brainstorm it, learn it, and communicate it.

P.S. There are no pictures in this post because I don't know what happened to the Apple Tree Mind Map, and this week's education example, although in technicolor, is probably one of the least visually appealing I have ever made. And my scanner is ill.

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