vendredi 11 septembre 2009

Mind map or linear notes?

(version français ci-dessous)

One oft-cited use of mindmapping is in note-taking. Paging through Tony Buzan's "The Mind Map Book", it would seem that using mindmaps for note-taking is far and away the best method, for many reasons:
- considerable savings of time, by concentrating on key words
- increased creativity and memorisation through the juxtaposition of concepts
- the use of colors and pictures also improves memorisation
- learning objectives are foregrounded better
- increased analytic clarity (and so on...)

De Bono makes the same sort of contrast between "vertical thinking" (analytical and argumentative) and "lateral thinking" (creative and innovative).

However, I've run head-on into resistance from students and their habits. In the two examples below, I experimented with two ways of presenting the same ideas. While studying an excerpt from James Baldwin's novel "Go Tell It On The Mountain", I worked differently with two groups of students from the same class: with one group, I noted students' ideas in the form of a mind map, while with the other group we made linear notes.

Example with a mind map:

Example with a linear list:

According to my students' comments, they found the mind map "all muddled up". "That is what we're supposed to copy into our notebooks?" they asked. Sure, it's only one example, but even though I'm convinced mindmapping is an effective technique (as you may well have guessed) I fear that they may need rather a lot of time and exposure before the advantages of mind mapping begin to be felt.

An experiment which doubtless needs more work and deeper analysis. Please add your comments.

Cheers, --- Phil

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