What is Mind Mapping? And what are the Benefits?
Mind Mapping is a technique used to organize our thoughts. While the term has been coined fairly recently in modern times, the process has been around for centuries. It’s a useful tool to have in our learning toolkit because there is no wrong or right way to utilize it.
The purpose of mind mapping is to focus our attention on a single main point and then to capture and frame knowledge in a specific way to help facilitate the sharing of concepts and ideas. Essentially, it’s creating a mental diagram that uses words, images, colors, and lines for plotting out ideas. There is a single focal point at the center of the diagram with major supporting ideas directly linked to this center, and other ideas branch out from there. Visually, it is similar to a spider diagram, as the hierarchy of ideas web out from the center point. It’s an organized method that can help increase creativity and productivity. And, contrary to the name, mind maps can be created by hand or using software tools available online.
What are the benefits of Mind Mapping?
1- Meaningful Learning
We learn in different ways but we are also taught in different ways. In school, we’re often taught the rote method of learning, which is simply memorization of facts and information. This is also considered passive learning where we learn what we are told rather than actively learning, where we seek out and control what we learn. But the one most connected to mind mapping is meaningful learning.
As a learning technique, when we are engaged in meaningful learning, we are using a non-linear approach. The learner is encouraged to think and explore concepts, connecting them in ways that make sense to the individual. Building a mind map amplifies meaningful learning since we aren’t simply connecting previous information but linking new subjects and ideas in a way that aids in faster learning and understanding.
Through mind mapping, students find connections between new and existing knowledge. Mapping these disparate pieces of knowledge can help form connections easily. When you use this technique, the brain is encouraged to make associations between different images, phrases, and keywords. Through these associations, you can plan and structure your work or brainstorm ideas for creative projects. Mind maps are helpful for breaking down complex information that helps in recalling.
In the same vein that the mind palace technique uses visual mental images to track information in an accessible way, mind mapping relies on the same visual principles. It is easier for the brain to store diagrams than other representational formats. It’s even thought that we tend to scan information in a nonlinear way, making the web structure easier to digest. Through mind maps, information is encoded separately in memory in both written and visual form.
3- Pleasant form of learning
To promote deeper learning, it’s important to engage students. However, reading a textbook or listening to a lecture does not create meaningful engagement. When we use mind mapping, we change our learning from passive to active, making the information easier to process and encode into our long-term memory.
Mind mapping encourages students to use different keywords, colors, symbols, and designs for creating their individual maps. This brings a sense of not only enthusiasm into whatever topic is being learned but can increase motivation as well. It also makes it easier to continue learning, as we can extend our mind map by connecting different concepts together, enriching our understanding.
4- Making complex issues easy to understand
Another benefit of using mind mapping is that it helps form an understanding of complicated issues. Using a mind map gives us a controlled setting when evaluating ideas and encourages a free flow in our thinking. Many times, if we attempt brainstorming without a structured route to follow, our mind can get distracted or we lose track of the threads we’re attempting to join. A mind map provides a map, letting us stay focused and productive.
More than providing a structure to follow, due to the spatial layout, mind maps take advantage of how quickly the brain can process visual stimuli, making recall faster by processing associations quicker. We’re able to see an overview for complicated and in-depth topics and new connections become easy to spot. We can then add a large number of thoughts, ideas, associations, and links through mental imagery, which not only makes it easier for our brain to analyze but increases the chances the information will be encoded into our long-term memory.
Other memory techniques like flashcards can help in memorizing individual facts. But with mind maps, we can connect these facts together and link them to different concepts within the same framework.
Mind maps help us organize complicated, complex pieces of information in a way that allows for easier recall. By linking ideas through a diagram structure, we can connect more facts, ideas, and pieces of information faster, utilizing multiple memory recall processes in our brain. By being able to look at complex topics from a new perspective, we can analyze them faster, see links between relevant pieces of information, and build onto our understanding in dynamic and diverse ways.