Kiosk Guides for Learning

I must Create a System, or be enslaved by another Man's
William Blake
1757 - 1827
English poet/printmaker

Directing your thinking series

Basics of mind/concept mapping

Many of us have learned to outline information in our studies, as:

  1. First item
  2. Second item
    1. sub item
    2. sub item
      1. sub sub item
      2. sub sub item
  3. Third item

Alternatives to outlining are mind- and concept-mapping.

How do I map?
First reject the idea of an outline,
or of paragraphs using sentences.

Think in terms of key words or symbols
that represent ideas and words: 

Other options for mind-mapping:

    • a pencil (you'll be erasing!) and a blank (non-lined) big piece of paper
    • a blackboard and (colored) chalk
    • "post-it" notes

Write down the most important word or short phrase
or symbol for the center.

Think about it; circle it.

Post other important concepts
and their words outside the circle


Edit this first phase
Think about the relation of outside items to the center item
Erase, edit, and/or shorten words to key ideas
Relocate important items closer to each other for better organization
If possible, use color to organize information
Link concepts with words to clarify their relationships


Continue working outward
Freely and quickly add other key words and ideas (you can always erase!)
Think weird: combine concepts to expand your map or; break boundaries
Develop in directions the topic takes you--not limited by how you are doing the map
As you expand your map, tend to become more specific or detailed

Set the map aside
Later, continue development and revision
Stop and think about relationships you are developing
Expand the map over time (right up to an exam if necessary!)

This map is your personal learning document
It combines what you knew with what you are learning
and what you may need to complete your "picture"

Note the descriptive links for the arrows
for "evapotranspiration" and "condensation"

Thinking and recall series

Concentrating | Radical thinking | Thinking aloud/private speech |
Thinking critically | Thinking critically | Thinking creatively |
Mapping explanation/demo | Thinking like a genius: Creative solutions | Famous thinkers | Selected thoughts

Concept maps have their origin in the work of David Ausubel
(advanced organizers). The technique of concept mapping was developed by Joseph D Novak at Cornell. "Concept maps have their origin in the learning movement called constructivism. In particular, constructivists hold that prior knowledge is used as a framework to learn new knowledge. In essence, how we think influences how and what we learn. Concept maps identify the way we think, the way we see relationships between knowledge." Grayson H. Walker, Concept Mapping and Curriculum Design, Teaching Resource Center, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Mind mapping was developed by Tony Buzan:
"The Mind Map Book: How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain's Untapped Potential", Penguin Books, New York. More information is available in a Mind Mapping FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Document.
IHMC CmapTools version 4.09 (free!)
The CmapTools client is a free mapping toolkit. In particular, schools and universities are encouraged to download it and install it in as many computers as desired, and students and teachers may make copies of it and install it at home.