Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mind Maps in Action: Mapping in Education with ExamTime

This 'Mind Maps in Action' post is courtesy of Andrea Leyden from the ExamTime team. ExamTime is a free elearning platform which includes a free online Mind Mapping tool designed to enhance the learning experience. Norman McBrien from ExamTime will be speaking at Biggerplate Unplugged in London this March.

David Bayne is a Religious Education teacher currently at St. Robert of Newminster RC School in Washington, Tyne & Wear. He decided to pursue a career in teaching after working as a computer programmer and technical support with the Department of Education. After his mid-life career change, David has now been teaching for 13 years.
Embracing Mind Mapping in Education
The benefits of integrating Mind Maps into your learning strategy are substantial. Mind Maps can be applied to a vast amount of learning situations; organising, planning, creativity, collaboration and comprehension.

Originally, David discovered Mind Mapping as a way to engage his students and to give them access to resources both inside and outside of the classroom. He acknowledges how online Mind Maps can easily be sculpted and dissected which is an integral part of the learning experience, “I start the Mind Map process with students, we discuss it and then they continue on their own or collaborate with others”.
The more David and his students have been using Mind Maps for learning purposes, the more they recognise how they can improve understanding and develop their learning skills. “Mind Maps help students commit ideas to memory more easily especially with the use of colour and images. Online Mind Maps are excellent for encouraging students as independent learners.” He also highlights how he uses Mind Maps to develop links between ideas and concepts to reinforce a topic with students.
A major stumbling block that students hit is motivating themselves study. Many students think of the overall picture which can be overwhelming but Mind Maps provide an easy way to digest and break down what needs to be done.  “Mind Maps make topics more manageable as students can easily see what they need to learn in one place”.
To summarise, Mind Maps improve the learning process by helping you:
  • Develop the ability to link ideas and concepts
  • Commit ideas to memory more easily
  • View a topic or area of work as a cohesive whole
  • Encourage students to be independent learners
  • Allows students to work collaboratively
Mind Mapping can be used in many ways but David’s experience using ExamTime demonstrates why they are the ultimate study tool.
Using ExamTime’s Mind Map Tool
Most of David’s teaching colleagues were using PowerPoint to create Mind Maps which they shared with their students. This didn’t work for David who searched for an alternative to satisfy his needs and came across ExamTime.
ExamTime is a free online learning platform where you can create, share and discover Mind Maps online. Along with Mind Maps, you can also create Flashcards, Quizzes and Notes and access other tools for communication and collaboration.
ExamTime have developed an innovative Mind Map tool which encompasses the benefits outlined in this article. Like most tools, ExamTime allows users the freedom to edit text and nodes plus facilitate the upload of images. The addition of “Play Mode” introduces a way to bring your Mind Map to life. The great thing about this feature for learning is that you can focus on pieces of information.
Having used ExamTime with his students, David recognised the different ways Mind Maps can be used to engage students in learning. One way he did this was by creating revision sessions via webinars where he could incorporate Mind Maps he made using ExamTime. “Using ExamTime in this way generates excellent questioning and analytical skills in students as they explore links between ideas.” These resources could be shared in real-time with the class using the Groups feature.
This opens up many possibilities for using Mind Maps to teach and learn. “My use of ExamTime and webinars was absolutely central to my revision strategy for my students last year. I’m convinced it contributed greatly to our excellent results which were our best ever. I have always had extremely positive comments from students.”
See an example of a Mind Map created with ExamTime below:

Importance of Technology in Education
Technology has developed in a way that we never thought possible and it was always inevitable that this would reach the world of education. Like many teachers, David understands that technology is more than important, it’s essential. “We use technology to great effect in every area of our lives and education should be no different.” Just take a look at the amount of education blogs dedicated to using technology in the classroom!
As David acknowledges, students embrace technology as a natural part of life, so should teachers. Why do we ask students to leave their tech devices at the classroom door?
Using an online tool not only allows you to develop your Mind Map with time, it means that you have access to the information your need quickly and all in one place. In education, using a tool that fulfils these needs is an essential part of the teacher toolkit.
If you want to learn more about using Mind Maps in education, check out ExamTime. If you'd like to see Norman from ExamTime talk more about mapping in education and using mind maps for studying, why not join us for our Annual Unplugged conference in London this March. Find full event details here.

Monday, February 9, 2015

MindMeister Arrives on Biggerplate.com!

It's finally here... you can now share your MindMeister maps on Biggerplate.com!

We've started 2015 at a frantic pace, and have been working on a number of exciting projects so far, but none more exciting than a partnership with our friends at MindMeister to add their fantastic mind map application to the supported formats on Biggerplate!

If you are a MindMeister user, you can now share your mind maps directly from with the MindMeister application to the library at Biggerplate.com, using the Public Maps functionality within the software.

 > View a fantastic set of MindMeister maps shared already!

For those who are unfamiliar with MindMeister... where have you been? These guys have a fantastic browser-based mind mapping application, that prides itself on the ease of use (it takes about 3 seconds to start creating your first map online), and their amazing collaborative functionality - enabling you to work simultaneously on the same online mind map with other users at the same time!

MindMeister has  truly established itself as a key player in the mind mapping world, and we're delighted and privileged to be working closely with the team based in Munich and Vienna. The public map gallery at MindMeister.com already contains a huge range of mind maps that we hope will now be shared on Biggerplate to help us further grow the content and community gathered on our platform. It's another important step completed at Biggerplate, and one that we are extremely confident about. MindMeister boasts an extremely large and loyal following of users, and an enviable innovation track record, with a strong emphasis on leading the way in the use of cloud based technologies.


We have been collaborating with MindMeister for several years already, and they have been a fantastic supporter of the Biggerplate Unplugged conference series since it launched, with some fantastic and memorable presentations made by members of the MindMeister team over the last two years! They are a great bunch of people; full of energy and innovative ideas for how to move mind mapping onwards and upwards - they're exactly the type of organisation that Biggerplate likes to work with, and we're thrilled to be further building on this!

Raphaela and Marc from MindMeister recently become the first visitors to our new countryside offices in Oxfordshire, and of course... the first people to join us in a zombie apocalypse photo... totally normal day in the Biggerplate office of course...

Not tried MindMeister yet? Why not visit MindMeister.com and set up a free account to start exploring today! > View details

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Annual Mind Map Report 2015: Out Now!

We're delighted to announce the publication of our Annual Mind Map Report 2015, which is now live and available to download for free, giving you a unique insight into the views of more than 1,000 mind mappers who participated in our global survey!

Our Annual Report aims to provide a high level view of the current state of the mind mapping world, and looks ahead to what can be done in the year ahead to further develop and grow the global mind mapping community. If you are looking to understand more about the use of mind mapping in the world today, our report will give you some very interesting food for thought, and perhaps even a few answers!

As always, we look forward to discussing the report with members of our community over the coming weeks, and invite you to share your feedback and comments with us through social media, using the #BPAR15 tag where possible. We will be following up the report publication with a number of specific blog posts and webinar events to discuss the findings further, and hope you will be able to join us as we explore the findings, and consider future ideas!

Annual Mind Map Report 2015

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Biggerplate Unplugged: 2015 and beyond!

Did you know... in 2012 there was no such thing as a mind mapping conference...?

In 2015, Biggerplate Unplugged has become firmly established as the must-attend conference for mind mappers around the world, having visited 5 great global cities in just two years since launching in 2013!

We have learned a great deal through the #BPUN series so far, and we are now looking to build upon the success of the series by developing an even more ambitious and far-reaching portfolio of events for mind mappers around the world!

Here’s an outline of what we’re planning:

Biggerplate Unplugged: Annual Cycle

Biggerplate Unplugged will now become an annual, once a year conference, starting this year with the London event (March 19th), which will be followed by events in New York in 2016, and Brussels in 2017. Further details for each event will now be released approximately one year in advance.

Having worked hard to establish the #BPUN conference in the minds of mappers through a busy two year launch schedule, the switch to an annual cycle will not only allow us to be more ambitious with each event, but also provide our community with a more predictable conference calendar, which will help to further grow the fantastic attendance at these flagship events!

Biggerplate Unplugged: London
March 2015

Biggerplate Unplugged: New York
March 2016

Biggerplate Unplugged: Brussels
March/April 2017


Smaller, Regional Events
We have learned from the last two years that not everyone can make our conference events, either due to cost, time, or pure logistics. We also know that in regions where our community and network are less developed, it is simply impossible for us to justify the expense and time required to host a full Biggerplate Unplugged conference. However, we believe it is vital that these regional mind mapping communities have opportunities to connect and collaborate in person through Biggerplate events, so we’re working on another plan!

Moving Biggerplate Unplugged to an annual cycle will mean we now have more time and resources available for the creation of several smaller, shorter, regional mind mapping events throughout the year, and around the world!

The regional events series will be launched and explained in greater detail at the upcoming #BPUN conference in London, but the overall aim is to provide more regular opportunities for you to connect with the Biggerplate team and other mind mappers in your region through small, informal, and interactive events that will bring further focus to the exploration and understanding of mind mapping as the missing link in business and education!

Extensive Google Hangout Schedule
The final piece in our events strategy is the continuation and expansion of our Google Hangout series, which provides a great (free) mechanism for mappers from around the world to connect through real-time video calls hosted by Biggerplate using Google+

After much experimentation in 2014, you can expect to see a great selection of online hangouts scheduled in 2015 to cover a huge range of mind mapping related topics:

Biggerplate Town Hall Hangout: 11th Feb 2015
Join Biggerplate founder Liam Hughes as he talks through key projects and progress at Biggerplate, and answers your questions! View Details

MindMeister Q & A: 19th Feb 2015
Join us as we speak with MindMeister founder Michael Hollauf aboutdevelopments and innovation at MeisterLabs! View details

Monday, February 2, 2015

Mind Maps in Action: Mind Maps for Genealogy

In this 'Mind Maps in Action' article, we talk to author, Ron Arons, about his latest book: Mind Maps for Genealogy

Who are you, and what is your background?

For fifteen years I've been researching my family history and, in the process have become an accomplished speaker (I've given more than 250 presentations worldwide) as well as a three-time author.  During the initial phase of my ancestral history research, I discovered that my great-grandfather served time in the famous New
York correctional facility known as Sing Sing Prison.  The finding was humorous, but also shocked my system to its core.  How could I have descended from a criminal?  I wrote a manuscript about my ancestor as well as his father, a rabbi from Poland who found trouble himself in England.  The publishing world told me that it "did not need another memoir."  Thinking out of the box one day (without the aid of mind maps), I decided to write a book about all Jewish criminals who served time in Sing Sing.  The research and the book writing took ten years, but I found a publisher that agreed to print my book.  I followed up with a second book, WANTED! U.S. Criminal Records, a 388-page reference work that shows where a researcher can find historical criminal records across America.  Before my career change, I worked for numerous high-tech firms (both hardware and software) in a marketing capacity.  My educational background includes an engineering degree from Princeton University and an MBA from the University of Chicago.  At both schools, I learned many techniques, methodologies, and tools to think and act analytically, but mind maps was not one of those tools

When and how did you first start using mind maps?

I first learned about mind maps from my webmaster.  I was in the process of expanding the scope of my website and we used mind maps to determine the layout of the newer, expanded website.  For years, I have been including mind maps at the beginning of my talks to show the audience where I am going to take them with the presentation.

What is the focus of the new book?

My new book, MIND MAPS FOR GENEALOGY is just what the title says it is.  The focus of the book is targeted at the millions of people who enjoy the hobby of genealogy.  Quite honestly, the book is targeted at intermediate and advanced-level researchers as well as professional genealogists to help them think more clearly, creatively, and effectively.

In the genealogy world, there's something called the Genealogical Proof Standard, a framework to help assure that research is done at a high/professional level.  The basic steps of the GPS are:

- Reasonably exhaustive research
- Citation of sources
- Correlation of data
- Explaining away discrepancies in the data
- A written summary of the research with proof arguments

I firmly believe that mind maps can help with steps 1, 3, 4, and 5.

So the book has several components:

- An overview of mind map concepts and a comparison with other tools that typically would be used for genealogical research
- A description of the Genealogical Proof Standard and other methodologies commonly used in the genealogical world
- Step-by-step instructions on how to use both FreeMind and XMind, two of the more popular free mind mapping tools which run on both PCs and Macs
- A buyers guide which briefly discusses other mind mapping tools and services
- Additional mind maps created from with data from other genealogists' examples.

What sparked this idea for you?

In the past I had used spreadsheets to create timelines with structured data that I found in documents about my ancestors.  Structured data means that all of the data fell into a few common categories: date of document, document type, name of individual, address, birth year, occupation.  These spreadsheets were very helpful, but mind maps allowed me to play for effectively with more unstructured data, either documents regarding multiple people, or different documents about the same individual that had different data types.

During this past December and January, I started to use mind maps in earnest.  Specifically, I used them to solve a couple of genealogical problems that had haunted me for years:

- Over the years I had collected documentation about various people with the same name as my great-grandfather, Isaac Spier, who also found trouble.  Did this information add to my ancestor's story?  If not, how many other men with this unusual name did these documents represent?  Two?  Five?  Ten?  I used various mind maps to explore the lives of many individuals in great detail until I felt comfortable answering these questions.  The amazing thing is that the mind maps proved to me that there were five unique individuals, all born in the same twelve-year timeframe, all lived where my great-grandfather lived (England, New York) or claimed to live (Pennsylvania), and all five found trouble.  In fact, four of the five had extra-marital affairs.  Statistically this phenomenon is an outlier by any standard.  Yet, mind maps helped me to prove all of it true.

- My great-grandfather served time in Sing Sing Prison for, of all things, bigamy. [Note: my great-grandmother was his first wife, I am pretty sure.]  People have asked me through the years, did he have any children by his second wife?  The answer, I'm pretty sure is no, i.e. zero.  You might be aware that it is usually reasonably difficult to prove a negative, but mind maps can to the rescue one more time.  I definitely saw the problem in a new light and was able to think about other ways to tackle it.

What is the link between mind mapping and genealogy, how do maps work/help in the process?

It has been my experience that mind maps can help during various stages of the research process:

- Brainstorming and planning future research.
- Keeping a log of research conducted to date.
- More effective correlation of data (this is the most powerful application of mind maps for genealogical research).
- Creating a beautiful summary of the research and, very often, telling a wonderful story that stems from the correlated data.

What’s next for you?

As an author, writing the book is just the first step.  Now I have to go and market the book as hard as possible and I'm doing that by exhibiting at conferences, giving presentations to other groups, and providing copies to opinion leaders.  Also, I'm toying with the writing similar books for other markets.  Clearly, my experience with this book sets me up well to do this.

Where can people get more details/the book?

I self-published this book and, currently, the book is available in the store on my website: www.RonArons.com

A huge thank you to Ron for sharing his story with us! If you'd like to share your 'Mind Maps in Action' story with us, get in touch via Twitter, or by commenting below.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mind Maps in Action: "Mind mapping made me a better coach, and even a better person."

In this latest instalment of our 'Mind Maps in Action' blog post series, we talk to Marina De Roover about her work with students with learning difficulties and how mind maps have helped to change their lives, and hers!
Could you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
I’m a firm believer in ‘justice’. Because of my studies, background and personal experiences, I believe there are no ‘boxes’ that we fit in. But society is all about ‘boxes’. If you can’t read quick enough, you are dyslexic. If you aren’t social enough, you’re autistic. Don’t get me wrong, these diagnoses are very important, but they sometimes ‘restrict’ people to follow their instincts. That’s a shame. The sky is the limit; if you believe you can, you CAN. It can be difficult and different from ‘what is expected’, but it’s worth it! 
In 2012 I started as a self-employed coach for pupils and students with learning difficulties. Their self-esteem problems often overshadowed their great possibilities. I started to coach them in studying techniques and tried to give them back some trust and self-esteem. This started very small but grew fast thanks to word-of-mouth advertising. My background (I studied Speech and Language therapy) helped to build a good foundation for this coaching. I kept on learning by reading books, following magazines and attending open courses.

I like to quote Einstein, because it hits the mark:
"Everybody is a Genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid." (Albert Einstein)

Everybody is a Genius, if you allow them to use the right tools. Therefore I named my website ‘climbing fish. This is my personal business in which I provide specialised coaching for students of all ages, but also specialised Mind Map workshops and training.

I started to cooperate with other therapists to provide lectures about visual thinking. Together with my Flemish TLI – partner (Think Buzan Licensed Instructor), we provide public workshops and in house courses.

How were you first introduced to mind mapping?

I followed a theoretical Bachelor degree as a speech and language therapist. I couldn’t find myself in some educational systems or techniques, because I think we judge people by emphasizing their disabilities. I want to start with their abilities.

Then, in 2011, I met Bernard Lernout, a great Mind Map Instructor in Belgium. I learned a lot from him and I wanted to follow his lead. After two years I decided it was time to meet the inventor of Mind Mapping and my greatest example, Tony Buzan. That’s how I decided to get accredited. So I became a TLI (Think Buzan Licensed Instructor).

What do you think are the greatest benefits of mapping?

Use your creativity to unlock the power of your brain, as Tony Buzan says. That’s wonderful! And it’s true. Mind mapping is very efficient and fun at the same time. It inspires me in so many ways. But maybe I can start with Tony’s line: a Mind Map is the Swiss army knife for the brain.

Mind mapping made me a better coach, and even a better person. I’m more aware of my own abilities myself. Imagination and association: keywords in mind mapping as in life as well…

What prompted you to start your current business?

The key moment just came half a year ago (may 2014). A student with Autism e-mailed me the quote of Einstein with these words: ‘Marina, this is what you did to me’. That was an eye-opener. It moved me emotionally. I was able to help her grow, to finish university, and now she said thanks to me in this very special personal way. It made me glow in the dark ;-).

I plan to open doors for all the students, all the people interested in lifelong learning and companies who want to learn to think outside the box and be creative. I want to continue personal coaching but I would like to combine this with organising Mind Map courses myself.
Marina created this superb mind map as a CV for herself!

What sort of response do you get from students, clients and colleagues when you introduce them to mapping?

Most students already learned about Mind Maps in school. BUT… These are mostly ‘proto-mind maps’, black and white, very few icons and pictures… So it doesn’t really hit the mark.

I always start out with reading techniques so they learn to detect key words. Then I let them use their imagination. ‘Which picture do you see?’ ‘What color does this remind you off?’. We start doodling, experimenting and before they even know, they made their first real Mind Map! Most adults are reluctant to use many colors and figures, but when they start…they can’t stop anymore. So the reactions are very positive.

How would you encourage people to try mind mapping for the first time?

It is VERY important to use topics close to their hearts. Students use their own schoolbooks, adults chose topics they encounter in their work or personal live.

This means I always have to keep studying myself. I try to know as much as possible about all the topics learned in high school for an optimal result. I also use speed-reading techniques to keep up with the things that are new to me. I always try to stay a step ahead, so I can better coach my students.

For companies, I do research in advance. I ask them what they want to accomplish in the course, and prepare exercises to keep the training as realistic as possible, close to the reality at work.

How to encourage those who aren’t interested? Ask them a real day-to-day topic they can’t tackle as easily as they would. Start brainstorming in a Mind Map. You’ll be surprised how soon they get curious about what the heck you are doing ;-).

A huge thank you to Marina for sharing her story with us! You can find Marina's website by clicking here, as well as her Biggerplate profile here.

If you have a 'Mind Maps in Action' story you would like to share, we would love to hear it! Get in touch via Twitter or by commenting below!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Biggerplate Unplugged returns to London in 2015!

After two years on  the road, we're very excited to announce that Biggerplate Unplugged will be returning to London in 2015, and it's looking bigger and better than ever!

> View event details

Since launching the mind map conference in London back in January 2013, the event has visited Paris, Utrecht, San Francisco, and most recently, Berlin. Now we return to where it all began, and will once again welcome the mind mapping world to London on 19 March 2015 for another fantastic day of learning, discussion, and innovation for mappers!
Tickets for the event are already selling fast, and we're expecting our biggest gathering ever, matched by an equally diverse and innovative programme for the day!
We'll be releasing more details in the New Year, but in the meantime, book your place now to save money through our Early Bird discount!
We look forward to seeing you for #BPUN London!