Mind mapping is an extremely useful technique for note-taking, brainstorming and learning. In the past I often tried to use mind-mapping but the neat-freak in me was never satisfied with the messy maps I would create. However, now there is an alternative to scribbling out mind maps on paper with the availability FreeMind, a great piece of free, cross-platform mind mapping software, allowing even the most artistically-challenged to create neat, functional mind-maps.
Unlike conventional note-taking, where the subject matter is written out linearly, mind mapping involves representing a subject as a diagram, starting with a central node that represents the overall topic, then adding labeled branches and sub-branches to represent sub-topics and pieces of information. For example, you could draw a mind map of the project you are working on, drawing branches to sub-projects right down to the individual project tasks.
Mind mapping is frequently hyped as a superior note-taking method for learning and recall, allegedly more suited to the way the brain functions than linear note-taking. Research has shown that a group of students using mind-mapping had 10-15% improved ability to recall information compared to a group using conventional note-taking , although other research indicates that concentrating more on the subject matter gives better than any switch in note-taking could! . Nevertheless, mind mapping is a great way to arrange large amounts of information in an easily readable and creative format, providing a good base for note-taking, brainstorming and learning.
FreeMind provides a user-friendly interface for drawing mind maps. As well as the basic ability to easily construct branches and nodes, Free Mind also allows you to:
- Decorate nodes with built-in icons, colors and different fonts
- Add fully functional HTML links to nodes
- Easily re-arrange the map with smart drag-n-drop facility
- Export functional maps to HTML
Useful information on mind-mapping:
- Farrand, P.; Hussain, F.; Hennessy, E. (2002). “The efficacy of the mind map study technique“. Medical Education 36 (5): 426-431.
- Pressley, M., VanEtten, S., Yokoi, L., Freebern, G., & VanMeter, P. (1998). “The metacognition of college studentship: A grounded theory approach”. In: D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Metacognition in Theory and Practice (pp. 347-367). Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum
- Wikipedia entry on mind maps