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The power of images and text: mind mapping for learning

Hamish AndersonGuest post by Hamish Anderson, Founder and Director at Mesh Consulting. Follow Hamish @Mesh_Consulting.

How often have you heard the expression “A picture is worth a thousand words”? It’s inherently true. Within a split second of seeing an image your brain interprets multiple factors, and led you to think in a certain way.

Images and shapes are used extensively in the world around us. Whether it is an emergency exit sign, an arrow on the ground, the icon on your computer desktop or even the logo of a brand, all are symbols and images that your brain interprets simply and quickly. Even in the meetings we attend, we all use symbols to convey things that would otherwise take time to write out. ? donation + ? costs = $ for books.

The power of imagery in learning

It is also why the use of infographics has become so prevalent in communicating complex ideas – people can associate the message with an image and digest it more easily.

In the early years at school, pictures are used extensively for learning. Whether for counting, in learning the alphabet or letting children express themselves with paint, images are a pivotal learning tool as the children understand them and they create associations with the images which the mind latches onto.

It’s no wonder, then, that using graphical representations of ideas and information, specifically mind mapping, has become such a powerful educational technique.  In fact, numerous studies have found benefits for both the educators and the students in the use of mind maps.

Benefits of mind maps for educators

In generating mind maps for themselves or for use within a classroom setting, the use of mind maps has been found to be beneficial for educators:

  • Helping the instructor to prepare and review lectures
  • Facilitating prompt feedback via enhanced ability to see when students’ understanding is incomplete or inaccurate
  • Identifies gaps in student understanding
  • Improves collaboration amongst students

Benefits of mind maps for students

Similarly, whether the teacher is using or creating a mind map as a teaching aid, or students are creating maps themselves as a way of note taking, they have been shown to:

  • Expand memory recall of key topics and help create a new environment for processing information
  • Improve students’ grades in science
  • Improve freedom of individual expression and creativity
  • Increase brevity and improve ease in note taking
  • Reduce cognitive load, assisting some students with learning conditions such as dyslexia

Getting started

A mind map does not have to be a work of art (no pun intended). The key is the get your ideas down, show causal relationships and use language that resonates with you. Then you can colour it and draw out connections between the important things.

Try a hand-drawn map as your first stop, and then once you see just how easy it can be, take the next step and try using MindManager – we know once you do, the classroom will never be the same again.

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