The Study Dude – Mind Maps

Study Tips from a Semi-Anonymous Friend

There is nothing more that The Study Dude wants for you than to have all kinds of free Mind Map software at your disposal.

Well, in these articles, as The Study Dude, I’ll try to give you the study tips you need to help make your learning easier. I’ll also give you straight and honest opinions and personal anecdotes?even the embarrassing ones that you wouldn’t ever dare read about from any other study tip guru.

Today’s study tips are based on a reading of Mind Maps: Quicker Notes, Better Memory, and Improved Learning 3.0 by Michael Taylor.

A Mind-Map in a Nutshell
I think we’ve all seen them, a circle in the middle of a page surrounded by branches with words on them, further breaking off into sub-branches, and I think you know what I mean. But in case you don’t, here is a little crash course on what mind maps are and can do for you:

– It takes drawing at least a hundred mind maps before you get super proficient with them. You should also make at least one mind map per month.
– You write the main topic or theme in the middle of the page, circle it or put it in some unique shape, and then branch out with lines radiating from the center that contain keywords that constitute your subtopic. Each subtopic branch will further branch out into further subsets, and the process continues.
– Keywords are essential to mind maps, although images can be substituted for keywords.
– You can make each layer of subtopics and subsets a separate polygonal shape to differentiate the layers, or you can use larger lines for the first subtopics, and thinner or differently coloured lines for each layer of subsets from there. Another option is to vary the text, using italics for one layer, bold for another, larger font for the main ideas, and so forth. It is up to you how you want to differentiate each layer.
– Keep in mind that each branching out layer (from central idea to subtopics to further subsets) is like an outline format, but just not linear. You can even delineate each different layer with outline roman to alphabetical numerals. The mind-map is meant to be succinct with images wherever possible and short keywords to delineate the topic.
– You can have multiple mind maps where each subtopic or subset gets its own mind map on a separate sheet of paper.
(Taylor, 2014)

Mind-Mapping Research Papers with Multiple Sources
The Study Dude loves how mind maps can be used for a variety of purposes, including decision-making, recall, book reviews, note taking, learning a language, you name it. However, when the process is laid out in black and white, mind mapping for a specific purpose becomes more transparent and accessible. Here are some tips to simplify your mind maps of research papers that use multiple sources:

– The process for mind-mapping research papers with multiple sources, such as papers, presentations, business plans, proposals, and grant proposals, include the following preliminary steps: 1. gather your books, 2. isolate the main topic or subject, then the subtopics, and ignore the subsets just yet, and 3. gather at least three research resources.
– After that, make a research key, where you define a certain color or an alphabetical letter to differentiate each individual book in the mind-map. Add code to the mind-map that denotes that letter or color and the respective book. Be sure to add page numbers on your mind-map.
– Repeat the process with all books.
– Get more research materials, such as books and articles, wherever there might be gaps in your mind-maps.
– Longer research papers might requires multiple mind-maps for each subtopic.
(Taylor, 2014)

Mind-Mapping for Writing Outlines
The Study Dude is enamoured with outlines, being a linear thinker, so the transition into non-linear outlines via mind maps is one of interest. Here are some of the steps for making an outline using a mind map:

– In the center of the mind map, write the general subject.
– Dump all you know about the subject down onto paper.
– Look for interesting relationships between the keywords you jotted down above.
– Pick the most enjoyable?or most practical and useful?areas of your mind-map as your focus. This will become your premise.
– Make a new mind-map with your premise in the center. Create subtopics with the “facts, issues, and arguments you want to discuss about the premise” (p. 71).
– Start writing your paper based on the mind-map, while being sure to checkmark the branches that you have discussed. Ensure you have an introductory and conclusive statement for each section.
– You can modify, move, or remove branch keywords as fitting for your paper evolution.

Free Mind Map Software
Ah, yes! Everyone, especially the Study Dude, loves the word “free”. What could be better for any tech-inclined youth than free software–for mind mapping? And what could be better for a technophobe of any generation than easy to use software? Well, here are some morsels to get your creative juices flowing with mind-mapping:

edraw mind-mapping software comes with many templates and symbols.
freeplane is not as nice as edraw, but a little more straightforward to use.
Text2MindMap is a Web-based program for making mind-maps, which is the easiest way to get started.
(Taylor, 2014)

The Study Dude just tried out the Text2MindMap, and it is awesome. You just type in your data with indents for each layer, and the chart is automatically drawn and coloured for you right before your eyes. It takes all of two seconds to orient yourself to it, and you don’t have to download a thing: it is all web-based. You can save the mind-map after titling it, and you can even download it to a PDF.

So, there’s nothing to fear. The Study Dude is determined to make right for you all the wrongs I made in grad school?one A+ at a time.

References
Taylor, Michael. (2014). Mind maps: Quicker Notes, Better Memory, and Improved Learning 3.0. Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

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