iMindMap is a free mind mapping app that can be installed on your mobile device. It is available from both the iTunes App Store and Google Play and it’s free.
What are mind maps and of what use are they?
A mind map is a diagram that gives a visual overview of a concept or topic and its associated ideas. These ‘ideas’ are arranged in a hierarchical manner making the connections or relationships between them obvious. For example, the image below is a mind map of a talk given on ‘Objectivity’. Click here to view it in greater detail.
This image was created by @Suw and shared here under creative commons licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
The term ‘mind map’ was coined by the leading authority on mind maps, Tony Buzan, in the late 1960’s and are considered a powerful technique for learning as they harness the full range of what are referred to as ‘cortical skills’ i.e. word, image, number, logic, rhythm, colour and spatial awareness. He provides just 7 simple rules that govern the creation of a mind map and they can be read here on his website.
A comprehensive report put together by ThinkBuzan Ltd and entitled ‘Mind Mapping: Scientific Research and Studies‘, explains how mind maps can foster creativity, enhance learning, promote group collaboration, and encourage critical thinking and problem solving, as well as discussing the use of mind mapping in teaching and learning. It gives loads of ideas and is well worth a look.
Mind maps are an excellent way for you to encourage your students to engage further with a concept or topic, to map out assignments and research projects, and to construct arguments etc. etc. The list is endless really.
If you would like to read some more…
Concept Maps v’s MindMaps
Above is a screenshot of what iMindMap looks like. The interface itself is very ‘clean’ and creating a mind map is incredibly easy. You are provided with limitless space to create your mind map and into that map you can embed text notes, audio clips and web links. Templates and an image library are provided to get you started. You can use the branching tool provided or draw freehand if you’d prefer. When your map is finished, you can switch to presentation mode and swipe through different shots of your map. If you connect to a PC you could present your map on a large screen to an audience. You can also share your mind map with your contacts who are also using iMindMap and be invited to view theirs.
Additional features are available through an in-app subscription to iMindMap Freedom such as being able to sync your maps to the iMindMap Cloud and have full access to iMindMap for the web on your PC, as well as being able to import your own images to use in your maps.
Note: There may be some differences in the features provided between the version for iPad and for Android.
I have put together a Quick Guide to Getting Started with iMindMap App *(PDF) with screenshots that shows very quickly how to access the basic functions of the app to get you up and running quickly. Then if you like the app watch the tutorial below before going to the bottom of this page on the ThinkBuzan website for further tutorials.
*Note: This PDF opens in the same window
Can integrating a mind mapping app, such as iMindMap, further enhance, or even transform, mind mapping activities with students in the higher education context?
When planning the integration of any technology into your learning and teaching practices, always evaluate your planned activities against the SAMR model (an overview of the model can be accessed here or from the link on the menu under the banner above). The focus should never be on the technology itself but on the pedagogy behind the activity in question, therefore the integration of any technology into the learning activity should be done so as to enhance, or even transform, the activity in a way that improves the student experience and improves learning outcomes.
There are loads of ways the iMindMap could begin to help you enhance and transform learning activities, so to get your creative juices flowing, consider this example:
Just getting your students to use iMindMap instead of pen and paper to create mind maps, but not using any of the functionality of the app itself, could be considered as a direct substitution of tools as per the SAMR model. The learning activity hasn’t really changed.
Requiring your students to use iMindMap to embed layers of ideas and knowledge into their mind maps using the notes, audio and web link features however is a definite enhancement of the learning activity as it requires the students to engage more closely with the concept or topic in hand. So, while you are still substituting the pen and paper for the app, there is some funcational improvement and so, with this activity, you have reached the SAMR level of ‘augmentation’.
But how can you integrate iMindMap to get you to the point where you have begun transforming the learning activity and have significantly redesigned it? In two words, ‘go social’! Get the students to use the tools in the app that allow them to share their maps with each other and with you and to collaborate to extend them further. This generates discussion, justifications for decisions made have to be articulated, before finally reaching consensus. This is a good example of a social constructivist learning environment supporting the construction of knowledge.
The iMindMap app, along with the subscription to iMindMap Freedom, allows the user to share their interactive mind map on social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn, and export it to YouTube (after which an additional voiceover/narration could be added). It can also be embedded into an e-porfolio or a website. Imagine the conversations your students could be having with industry specialists, or experts in their field of study, or even potential employers by sharing their work in this way. This opens the social aspect of the activity far wider than the classroom walls and extends the learning opportunities.
1. Download iMindMap from either iTunes App store or Google Play
2. Create a new mindmap and add two branches
3. Add a note, record an audio clip, insert a weblink
4. Invite me (firstname.lastname@example.org), or a colleague who has a iMindMap account, to view your map
(Refer to my Quick Guide to Getting Started with iMindMap App for instructions as to how to carry out tasks 2, 3 & 4.)
Don’t forget to tweet #12appsDIT your opinion of this app, or indeed post a comment below. Let us know your ideas on how to use it effectively with students to transform teaching, learning and assessment practices. The more we share, the more we learn!