How to Create an Effective Mind Map for Optimal Learning: A Step-by-Step Guide
We have already talked about what a mind map is and its differences with the concept map, discovering its characteristics and learning opportunities it offers. But how to create a good one? What are the steps to follow to optimize a mind map, in order to make it a solid base for studying?
In this article we will see:
The science behind mind maps for optimal learning
In a dedicated article, we have covered every aspect regarding mind maps, but summarizing their main characteristics is certainly a useful step before getting to work. Let's see together what the focal points are:
- mind maps are not only made up of words or concepts, but aim to provide a visual representation of the studied topic;
- they develop with a radial structure, starting from a central concept that serves as a starting point for all external connections - which do not have hierarchical relationships among them;
- the flexibility in form allows mind maps to include elements of different types, ranging from multimedia content to short pieces of text;
- mind maps therefore try to focus more on individual intuition and less on mnemonic study, allowing a high level of personalization.
The founding core of mind maps is creativity - not by chance they were used by great artists, one of them being Leonardo Da Vinci. When you start creating your mind map, remember that the main premise is the functionality of the map, how the map can best help you in your studies. In simpler terms, any element that can help you in learning can be used, exploiting only general indications on the creation phase.
Don't be fooled by the great freedom of movement offered by mind maps: their functioning has solid scientific foundations that rest on the neural connections that our brain is capable of making. In particular, from the point of view of neuroscience, they recall the idea that emotional stimuli are more easily remembered than sterile notions. The learning process is thus tailored to the individual student, who can find the most stimulating way to learn and consolidate concepts - in the spirit of personalized learning.
Mind map or concept map? how to choose the right tool for optimal learning
The first thing you need to do when creating a mind map is to make sure it is the right tool for what you want to study. This step, which may seem trivial, is actually fundamental if you want to optimize the learning of concepts - especially given that there are different ways to schematize the subjects under study. You will therefore have to ask yourself: do I prefer to use a mind map or a concept map?
Your choice will be dictated by the differences between the two types of maps, which can be summarized briefly in a table:
These different characteristics obviously also respond to different purposes pursued by the respective types of maps. On the one hand, in fact, concept maps are often more suitable for memorizing abstract and specific contents; on the other hand, mind maps are usually used to stimulate creativity and individualized learning.
A three-step guide to creating effective mind maps for optimal learning
Let's follow together three simple steps on how to make mind maps:
- Setting phase;
- Linking phase;
- Inserting images, symbols and associations phase.
Choosing the perfect starting point for presentations and interdisciplinary paths
Starting off on the right foot... choose the right starting point! Your entire mental map will be based on the central concept of reference, which should be the main focus of what you are studying. Remember that the pivot of your mental map can be either a word or an image: whatever helps stimulate your photographic memory! The setup phase may be extremely trivial when studying a specific topic, but it will become more complex and important when preparing, for example, presentations or interdisciplinary paths.
A step-by-step guide with radial structure and regular spacing
In concept maps, the connections between various concepts are also called "branches". Once you have placed the main object of study in the center of the diagram, you can let yourself be guided by the mental associations it evokes to develop the map. Moving from the center outwards, each branch can further expand with additional ramifications: however, remember that each different category will have its own branch, developing the famous radial structure.
In developing the concept map, it is also essential to try to distance the various elements from each other, so that the final result is neither chaotic nor dispersive. The most followed indication is usually to leave regular spaces between the concepts inserted, regardless of their importance, so that the brain can concentrate on memorization rather than on identifying the elements in the map.
Using images, colors, and symbols to enhance learning and retention
The associations present in the concept map are the result of each student's individual learning path. Therefore, it is important to make extensive use of images and symbols, colors and stimuli that can highlight the connections between the various branches and the central concept. From a visual perspective, it is important that the most important concepts are larger than the peripheral ones: this tactic will allow for layering the study process, focusing first on the main connections and then delving into the details later.
A faster and more intuitive way to learn
If it's true that once to create a mind map it was necessary to arm yourself with paper, pen and a good dose of patience, today artificial intelligence tools allow you to use this learning tool in a much faster and more intuitive way. The Algor Education software, for example, provides a pre-set star structure to create mind maps and add branches in complete freedom.
To do this, you will need to follow a few simple steps:
- Create a free account on Algor Education by registering via email or logging in via Google;
- Click on "New map";
- Select on the right the second command from the top under the arrow and choose the spoke or star configuration;
- Start creating the mind map by adding nodes and letting creativity flow with images, videos, audio, links (included in the Free plan)!
Using digital tools to create mind maps offers two unique advantages: the ability to insert high-quality multimedia material and to modify each element at any time without having to completely overhaul the entire work. However, Algor goes beyond and also offers two other functions, which you can take advantage of by subscribing or using the internal credits of the platform:
- Creating mind maps from scratch starting from a blank sheet or a template;
- Creating automatic mind maps starting from texts (Text or Photo Map), useful for many dyslexic students and those with special educational needs in general, not only because it relieves them from the need to write but also because it helps to explore a text before moving on to reading;
- Creating automatic mind maps starting from a topic (Quick Map), which can serve as a starting point to develop your own personalized path and to study topics in a more dynamic way.
With the Free plan, you have 30 free AI credits to use the automatic functions of the app such as Quick Map or Text Map.