Wednesday, August 26, 2015

NEW: Biggerplate Community Marketplace!

While the entire world seems to be on holiday in August, we've been working hard on a few big projects here at Biggerplate, and a couple of little ones too! This week, we're excited to announce the launch of our new 'Community Marketplace' that's now live on!

Over many years, we have met with huge numbers of our community members, and learned a huge amount about the incredible range of businesses that our members own, manage, or work within. Mind maps are helping to start, grow, and manage businesses in incredibly diverse industries all around the globe, and there are thousands of startups and small businesses represented in the community at

One of our key goals is to share the stories of how people around the world are using mind mapping to improve their working, as can be seen by many of the great 'Mind Maps in Action' articles on this blog over the years. However, we wanted to do more to help promote and shout about these great businesses, and the innovative ways they are using mind mapping, either in the delivery of their services, or in the behind-the-scenes organisation of their business. Well now we have a better solution: our new Community Marketplace!

The Marketplace is a very simple directory of businesses, where any of our members can list their organisation within one ofcategories, to raise awareness of their brand, drive traffic to their webasite, and (hopefully) secure new business from other members of the Biggerplate community! Listing your business on the Marketplace costs just $19.99 per year, but comes with two important conditions:

1. You must be a registered member of Biggerplate to list your business
2. You must have shared at least one mind map on our mind map library
(All submissions will be manually checked and approved)

These two conditions are intended to ensure that we create a Marketplace that genuinely represents members of the community, and (most importantly) represents businesses that are using mind mapping in some form. Our aim is to reveal more of these innovative businesses and their stories, while simultaneously creating a thriving internal market on Biggerplate where our members can discover (and hopefully support) the great businesses that our members are working hard on around the world!

We're a small business (6 people in our team), and we know how hard it can be to get a little extra visibility in the world without paying huge sums of money to achieve it. A simple Marketplace listing on Biggerplate is (we hope) a nice and simple way for you to get a little more visibility among our large and vibrant community, and drive web visitors and potential business to your organisation! Whether you're a sole trader, startup company, established business, or something else, we'll be delighted to welcome you to the new Biggerplate Community Marketplace, and we look forward to learning about your business!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Mind Maps for Effective Project Management

In this post, we speak to mind map trainer, enthusiast and author, Maneesh Dutt, about his new book, "Mind Maps for Effective Project Management".

1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a freelance trainer, based out of India, extremely passionate about Mind Mapping & Project Management.  In addition to offering workshops for corporate I also regularly conduct Mind Map public sessions. With my 20 years of experience in various Industries and positions, I endeavour to design practical training workshops to allow immediate tangible benefits to individuals and organisations.

2. How were you first introduced to mind mapping?

It was purely by accident that I stumbled upon the book "How to Mind Map" by Tony Buzan little realizing that it would change the course of my life. I started experimenting with the concept and was amazed every time with the results that I was getting. One thing led to another and finally burning with the fire of Mind Maps in my brain I decided to quit my job to pursue my love for Mind Maps 24 x 7.

3. What do you think is the greatest benefit of mind mapping?

For our intellectual growth we need to be perpetual "Learners" & "Creators". However as we age, for  the vast majority of us,  the desire for both these important aspects diminishes . This is where  "Mind Maps" a simple thinking tool helps ignite the spark on both the dimension of  "learning" as well as "creating".  Our new "learnings" help us "create" better and vice versa. Thus in this context  what I like about Mind Maps is that they are an indispensable thinking tool for anyone interested in growth and a fulfilling life.

4. How does mapping fit into your work and personal life?

I have created hundreds of Mind Maps (both hand & computer drawn) helping me in both my work & personal life in a multitude of ways. Top of the mind examples for work include preparing my training outline, taking notes, developing my publicity & marketing strategy, decision making etc. etc. On the personal front it is a great tool to plan events/parties but most importantly it is the tool for kids to make learning more fun. I have innumerable examples of success with my kids in using Mind Maps and few of these stories are also available on my blog page at

5. Could you tell us a bit about your new book?

My book "Mind Maps for Effective Project Management" is about how Mind Maps, a simple creativity enhancing tool, can help manage projects better along the complete life cycle from start to end. In my book I have presented opportunities for Mind Mapping at every stage of a project. In fact there are 40 ready to use Mind Map templates included in the book and with every purchase you get access to the softcopy of these templates. With the explanations in the book and  these ready to use Mind Maps it becomes easy for any interested individual to kick start their Mind Mapping journey for better management of  all varieties of  Project. Most of the Mind Maps presented are industry agnostic hence the book is helpful for projects across the industry from software to brick & mortar projects.

6. What sort of response has the book had?

I am happy & excited to share that the book, in the first month of its launch, has featured on the top 5 best selling among all books on the Notions press store and has also figured among the top 50 in management books on Amazon India Store.

7. What prompted you to write the book?

First and foremost my passion for the twin subject of Mind Maps & Project Management and secondly the desire to share this with a wider audience. I also realized that on one hand the subject of Project Management has an universal appeal and is quite pervasive across industries. Whereas on the other hand Mind Maps, at present, does not enjoy a similar mass appeal. A project is all about "enabling creation" and a Mind Map is about "enabling Creativity"; hence the two subjects could easily be brought closer with great potential benefits. Thus realizing the potential of Mind Maps in Project Management I harbored an ambition to enable a marriage between these two subjects which resulted in this book. 

8. Who would most benefit from reading the book?

First CEO's and heads of organisations interested in bringing a revolution to the way they manage projects.  The Project Managers , the members of the Project Management Office and any stakeholders in projects can easily benefit from this book.  It can be great gift for your best project teams or better still for all your project managers!! Head of Departments of Management schools interested in exposing their students to new emerging management techniques could also find this book to be quite valuable.

9. Where can we get it!?

The book is available at all the major online book stores (also e-book) across the globe. At the link below you would find sample pages of the book  and also a link to all the major stores where you could buy a copy for yourself

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Mind Maps in Action: Bringing Mind Mapping to the Classroom

In this 'Mind Maps in Action' post, we hear from Alessio Bernadelli about his experiences of bringing mind mapping to the classroom and some of the initial struggles and eventual successes of doing so.

1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
My name is Alessio Bernardelli and I am currently working with The Institute of Physics as a Teaching and Learning Coach, Network Coordinator and Editor of, but I am also the Founding Director of, an award winning professional development company for teachers. I taught Physics for over nine years and I was Head of KS3 Science for five years in Wales. During my career I won a number of national and international teaching awards for innovative use of technology in education and that is one of my biggest passions, as I believe technology is a powerful channel to engage learners and allow them to reach their full potential. That is true when technology is used starting from sound pedagogy and not for technology’s sake.

2. How were you first introduced to mind mapping?
I first heard about Mind Mapping during my PGCE course, but no one really explained its principles to me, so spider diagrams, Mind Maps, etc… all looked and meant the same to me at the time. I liked the idea that I could link different concepts together, but there was something in the way I was Mind Mapping that made it quite ineffective for me and, therefore, for my students. Eventually, when I was on holiday in Cardigan I came across the Mind Map Book by Tony Buzan. It was in a dusty corner of a charity shop. All books in that basket were only 10p and this one was even hardback! I immediately bought it and started reading it with great interest. At last, I could see the reason behind Mind Mapping and I learnt about what Tony calls the Mind Mapping laws. I had never thought there were any rules in Mind Mapping and I found that a bit strange at first. But I then realised how useful and sensible these “laws” were. Using the same colour for parent and daughter branch, adding images on each branch, adding emphasis in thickness and shape of branches all make important key concepts more memorable and helps you see the bigger picture. But the “law” that really made the difference for me was to use one key word per branch only. This increases the number of branches, hence associations, that you can link to a branch and it increases the associative power of your Mind Maps. I have to admit that it was pretty hard at first to stick to this rule and even harder still for my students, but once I got a bit of practice it became easier and easier, to the point that it seemed unnatural and counterproductive to Mind Map in other ways.

'Working Scientifically' - Mind Map shared on Biggerplate, by Alessio

3. What role does mapping play in your day to day life?
I use Mind Mapping on a regular basis now and the next logical step after reading the Mind Map Book was to search a digital tool that could help me Mind Map at speed. Don’t get me wrong, I still love hand drawn Mind Maps, but tools like iMindMap have allowed me to get so much quicker at drawing effective Mind Maps, to the point that I can now even take real time notes using iMindMap. I use Mind Mapping for planning, evaluating and in teaching. Presenting concepts through a Mind Map adds an extra layer of understanding in my opinion that helps unlock difficult and sometimes more abstract concepts, like many Physics topics.

4. How have students reacted when introduced to mind maps?
You often get students who are intrinsically against Mind Mapping and they usually say things like “That’s not how my brain works!” and it is hard to judge them. After all, they have been taught for many years to write notes in long sentences, with one single colours and in nice neat straight lines, so to many Mind Mapping looks at first messy and non-intelligible. Rather than not being the way their brains work, Mind Mapping is alien to many learners because their brains have been trained to process information in a very linear way, a way that is actually unnatural for the brain. If I asked you to think about the word car, virtually no one would see the three letters CAR in their minds. You more likely are thinking about your car, or the car of your dreams, and so on. In other words, every concept you can imagine is mainly transmitted and processed by your brain through images and more complex concepts are a mesh of images and ideas connected together through various links. In this sense, Mind Mapping is the only technique that allows you to mirror the way your brain actually processes information, unlike linear note taking.
So, you can imagine that I wasn’t very popular at first with my students when I introduced the one word per branch rule in the classroom, but I strongly believed in its effectiveness and stuck with it. Eventually my learners became familiar with it and began to see how useful it was. Some of them produced some superb Mind Maps, e.g:

This physics mind map from year 10 pupil, Kira:

This fantastic A-level Map on Magnetic Forces by Anthony, who always insisted he didn’t get Mind Mapping:

My favourite one from a Year 7 boy, on circuits:

'Stopping Distance' - Science Map created by yr 10 pupil, Kira

5. What do you think is the greatest benefit of mapping in general, and in an education context specifically?
Mind Mapping is like a window to your brain and it really unlocks its potential unlike any other technique I have ever used. Mind Mapping literally changed my life and helped me to think smarter and see the bigger picture in any situation. In more than one occasion I found myself overwhelmed by too many and too difficult tasks and just Mind Mapping about them helped me to see what I needed to prioritise, that the tasks were not that difficult in the end and that I actually had time to complete all tasks to a good standard. So, the power of seeing the big picture cannot be underestimated, but Mind Mapping is much more than that, because it also allows you to see fine details and link important concepts and ideas together. It really is a comprehensive tool that should be used and encouraged by all.

6. Would you like to add anything else?
I have been sharing my personal Mind Maps on for years now and you can find them here
My CollaboratEd’s Mind Map are at and examples from my students’ Mind Maps are at

A huge thank you to Alessio for sharing his experiences with us! If you have a 'Mind Maps in Action' story to share, get in touch by commenting below, or via Twitter (@Biggerplate)!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Biggerplate Brunch Club launching this month!

Those of you who have been paying close attention over the last few months, either through our regular Town Hall Hangout calls, or by joining us at Biggerplate Unplugged London, will surely now know all about the new Biggerplate Brunch Club, which is officially launching later this month in Amsterdam on May 27!

No idea what we're talking about? Ok, read on...

In this year's Annual Mind Map Report we outlined ambitious plans to further develop our events portfolio to provide more opportunities for members of our community to engage directly with Biggerplate, and each other, through a more regular and varied mixture of online and offline events. As the Biggerplate Unplugged conference series settles into a more orderly annual cycle (check out New York 2016...), we have been working away on the creation of a regular calendar of free online 'hangouts', and, perhaps more ambitiously, a regular series of small brunch meetings in key locations around the world... affectionately known as the Biggerplate Brunch Club!

This month we are launching the first ever Brunch Club meeting in Amsterdam, and will be following this with a regular calendar of meetings in key cities around the world over the coming year. If there's an active mind mapping community in your city - you'll probably be seeing us soon...

What is the purpose?
The aim of the Brunch Club is to create more regular opportunities for regional engagement and collaboration with our members. We want to create more chances for our members to get together and share ideas, without having to wait for the Biggerplate Unplugged conference to come to town. The Brunch Club will enable us to create regular meeting opportunities for our community members, and perhaps reach new areas where the conference has not yet ventured. We think this new approach will allow us to further build regional collaborations with mind mappers, and we're so excited to hit the road!

What is the format?
Brunch Club meetings will be small gatherings of up to 12 people. We will get together at 10:00 am, with some tasty brunch food provided. We'll give attendees a short overview of key projects and progress at, then open up the remainder of the meeting for interactive discussion, including time for general feedback, and exploration of new ideas and opportunities. The meetings will conclude by 12:00, and hopefully provide a great opportunity for us to learn more about the local mind mapping communities in different areas, and explore ways that we can collaborate and innovate to drive greater mind mapping adoption in the region.
These meetings are free of charge, but space is extremely limited (maximum 12 people) so we expect each meeting to fill up quick!  

Who is it for?
If you are a member of, then the Brunch Club is open to you! Since space is strictly limited, we will be giving preference to members of our community who are actively sharing mind maps, but other than that, it's an open invitation to anyone who has an interest in shaping the future of and the mind mapping world in general.

Where and when?
The first Brunch Club meetings will take place in Amsterdam, and Paris, with further dates and locations to be announced soon.

28 May 2015 (view details)

18 June 2015 (view details)

The Brunch Club will break over the summer (July and August) then return in September, with a number of additional meeting dates and locations!
Keep an eye on to see when the Brunch Club is in your part of the world!

Would you like to see the Brunch Club in your city? Why not drop us an email and let us know where you are! If we can find enough Biggerplate members in your region, then a Brunch Club meeting could be a possibility!
Tweet us about the Brunch Club using the tag #BPBrunch

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mind Maps in Action: Personal Dashboard Maps

In this edition of our Mind Maps in Action series of blog posts, we talk to Mathieu van der Wal about the use of Personal Dashboard Mind Maps, and the free webinar series he, and the World of Minds team, are offering to help you make the most of this superb tool!

Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Having a background in Interaction Design, I always had this urge to figure out ways how to present information in a meaningful, useful and humane way. After graduating in 2004 I joined
aHa!Coaching in The Netherlands to work on integrations of Mindjet MindManager in different work processes by developing add-ins and custom integrations. After a couple of years of working with visual maps I used them so much that I started to think about broader applications of visual mapping and got certified as a trainer. In 2008 aHa!Coaching joined the network organisation World of Minds, where we share a vision that people can (and should) be less busy being busy and that visualisation can play a part in that goal.

My current projects involve (educating on) integrating visual mapping as part of A New Smarter Way of Working to gain a competitive edge of teams and organisations by improved usage of their human capital.

How were you first introduced to mind mapping?
Back in 2004 there were some ideas at aHa!Coaching on how we could use mind mapping software to help people in their line of work. However, my colleague Jerre Lubberts always stressed that it is not only a software tool but that you also need to know the underlying techniques of mind mapping and the way it is both a thinking, writing and memory technique. With a software engineering background, actually the process of ‘building’ maps from different parts of information felt very natural and liberating to me.

How do you now use mind maps in your working life?
I use them on a daily basis, both for myself as for our clients. Actually, the ‘back bone’ of my roles, goals, projects and tasks is my Personal Dashboard map (see screenshot below).

I use my Personal Dashboard map in a weekly process to review the work that has been done and the work that has is yet to come. If I keep my dashboard up to date it actually saves me time as I can make better decisions on what to do and what not to do. I use the saved time much like 20Time: don’t fill it with ‘busyness’, but work on improving processes, try a new project or experiment etc. along the principles of methodologies like the Lean Startup philosophy.

What do you think is the greatest benefit of the usage of a Personal Dashboard map?
Working visually with such a Personal Dashboard map certainly made the process of keeping overview of your work more fun, which motivates me to keep doing it. I like how the structure of the map provides context on all the work that’s going on,instead of just a list of projects and things that I want to do ‘some day’. Also, the map helps me to find information from a project-perspective point of view and allows links to existing information, whether that be e-mails, local files or cloud based files.

Once you start adding information in a software mindmap there is so much you can do which adds value to having your map instead of having lists or paper overviews: hyperlinks to existing documents, filtering based on codified information (color, icons), task-based filtering like deadlines and synchronising with existing task lists.

The map quickly becomes a ‘living document’ which is more than just a snapshot of the information you had at a specific time: it becomes a true dashboard (like the one in a car) to help you to make the best decisions in the moment.

What do you think are the greatest barriers to wider adoption of mapping?
From my experience it seems to have to do with not being a part of the process of creating a map and a fear of having to create the perfect map at once.

We do a lot of sessions with clients, and it makes a lot of difference if we create the map together with the clients on a big screen (or online) or if we just send the completed map after the session. Having clients participate in creating the maps really helps them to see the value of the mapping process and helps them to working with the thinking and memory techniques that are part of mapping as well.

It feels like people are attracted to the mapping purely based on the visual aspect, but this one-sided approach results either in people jumping to the software and creating huge unusable maps or that they never start practise mapping by hand because they think you ‘need to be able to draw well’ or ‘need to be creative’ (which is another discussion... :) so they just stop there and never pick up the mapping.

To quote Mikko Arevuo from the latest BPUN London: "It is ok to map poorly. What is important is how you USE the map"

Would you like to add anything else?
Yes, I know from my own experience that people have difficulties starting their own Personal Dashboard map because they’re “just too busy right now” and they think they need to create a perfect overview in one take. However, having such a perfect overview (does it even exist?) doesn’t help much as the world just keeps on spinning, things keep coming in between and priorities shift: working smarter is a process that you need to repeat every day, week and quarter.

So, I would like to offer to the Biggerplate Community to join me in our ‘Personal Dashboard ’webinar series for free so they can start creating their own Personal Dashboard map in their mapping software of choice and customise it to their needs.

We will be starting a new series on the 12th of May in English, and another series (in Dutch) on the 26th of May. If you’re interested, but can’t make it to one of the series, just send me an e-mail at and I’ll keep you updated on the new series.

A huge thanks to Mathieu for sharing his thoughts with us and we wish him the best of luck with the webinar series!

Have you got a 'Mind Maps in Action' story to share with us? Then get in touch by commenting below, or via Twitter!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

"The Essential Guide to Getting Started with Mind Mapping Software" - by Chuck Frey

In this blog post we talk to founder of the Mind Mapping Software Blog, Chuck Frey, about his new book: "The Essential Guide to Getting Started with Mind Mapping Software".

1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

I am the founder and publisher of the Mind Mapping Software Blog, the web's leading source for news, reviews, advice and best practices for mind mapping and visual thinking. My passion is helping business people understand how they can think, plan, execute and innovate more effectively using visual tools and techniques.

2. How were you first introduced to mind mapping?

I've been interested in creativity tools and techniques for a very long time. I was aware of hand-drawn mind maps and what they could be used for, but I had never seen mind mapping software. I had an opportunity to see a demonstration of Inspiration in Chicago when it was a fairly new product, and I was immediately hooked. I could see the potential of a visual hierarchy of information that could be easily added to and rearranged. At the time, it seemed to be a very elegant way to capture and organize ideas in a highly-engaging format. At that time, I had no idea of what it would eventually become. Today, I call it "the savvy executive's secret weapon," because it's such a powerful tool for thinking and planning. It can help business people get more work done faster, tackle more complex projects, make better decisions and much, much more!

3. Could you tell us a bit about your new book, "The Essential Guide to Getting Started with Mind Mapping Software"?

It answers two key questions: How can mind mapping software streamline and enhance your work? And how can you learn enough about it to make an intelligent decision on which program best fits your needs? The Essential Guide to Mind Mapping Software is a free 30-page e-book that is designed to help you understand what mind mapping software is, how it can benefit business people like you and what to consider when selecting a program that will meet your needs.

It contains a concise collection of information and advice on:
·         Selecting the best program for your needs
·         Benefits and advantages of mind mapping software
·         Powerful business applications
·         Must-have features to look for
·         A glossary of mind mapping terms
·         11 leading programs compared on 80+ features
·         Software developer profiles

I know a lot of people come to seeking inspiration. They want to know what's possible - what others are doing with mind mapping software. It contains some wonderful examples. But they need more information and knowledge to take the next step, to identify their needs and then find software solutions that are a good fit for them. That's where my guide comes into the picture. It's a roadmap to help people along that process.

4. What prompted you to write the book?

For a number of years, I have published a comparison chart that shows the major desktop-based mind mapping software programs, side-by-side. It's part of my commitment to providing my readers with helpful, actionable information and resources they can use to be more productive, creative and effective. This comparison chart has always been very popular with my readers. 

But earlier this year, I did some deep thinking about my readers and their information needs. I realized that the comparison chart only served a small percentage of them - those people who had already decided that it was time to invest in mind mapping software, and were just looking for advice on which program to buy. 

I also realized there was a much bigger opportunity to help those people who are earlier in the process - who may have heard about mind mapping software, but aren't sure what all the excitement is about. They may think it's just for brainstorming and organizing ideas. In fact, it can do so much more today. 

Also, these people may not be sure how they can use mind mapping software to enhance their work and life. They may be afraid that it has a high learning curve - which they don't have time to deal with. Once again, that's not an accurate picture. Today's mind mapping software offers intuitive interfaces that can help even newbies get started creating basic mind maps fairly quickly.

In summary, these people don’t have enough information to make an informed decision about whether or not it's a good match for their needs.

So I decided to assemble an e-book that contains everything a business person would need to know to accurately understand what today's mind mapping software can do for them, organized into a practical, four-step process. It's all presented in a concise format, so readers can get through it quickly and take action based on what they've learned.

5. Who would benefit most from reading it and what can they expect to learn?

It's designed for anyone who is challenged by having too much to do, multi-faceted projects that are hard to get their heads around, assignments with a high degree of ambiguity (where you need to clearly define what you need to know and where to find it before you can even begin working on the project itself) and other information management challenges. 

That means any knowledge worker can benefit from the Essential Guide. Managers and leaders can also learn a lot from it. They tend to be choke points for a lot of information and have the most to gain from becoming more efficient at what they do.

When you're done reading The Essential Guide to Getting Started with Mind Mapping Software, you'll have an accurate understanding of what it is, how you can use it to streamline and improve your work and you'll understand the specialized terminology surrounding this type of visual thinking. You'll also have a very clear picture of the strengths, weaknesses and advantages of each of the 11 major software programs for Windows, Mac and Linux. 

In other words, you'll be armed with enough information to decide if mind mapping software is a good fit for you, and which programs you ought to take a closer look at. 

6. Where can we find it!?

The Essential Guide to Getting Started with Mind Mapping Software is a free download from my Mind Mapping Software Blog here:

7. Would you like to add anything else?

Thanks for the opportunity to share this new resource with the readers of the Biggerplate blog!

A huge thank you to Chuck for talking to us, and for creating and sharing this valuable resource with the mapping community!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mind Maps in Action: Using mind maps to support disabled students.

In this edition of our Mind Maps in Action series, we talk to Assistive Technology tutor, Martyn Stahl, about his use of mind mapping software to help disabled students at Portsmouth University achieve their full potential.

1. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

About 16 years ago a TV program showing how voice recognition could help dyslexics changed my course of employment. Being dyslexic myself I could see the potential it had in helping people that had previously struggled to express themselves in school, work and life.  Having no knowledge of computers and no teaching experience I embarked on several courses at college and Portsmouth University. While completing a teacher trainer course in IT at Portsmouth University I was asked to support their disabled students, training them in the use of what is now termed Assistive Technology.  I have been employed by University of Portsmouth for 14 years working with disabled students showing them how they can use technology to support their studies. I still get a great kick out of seeing how technology can remove large barriers to students opening up a path to success.

2. How and when were you first introduced to mind mapping?

One of the first lessons I had to take was in the use of Inspiration mind mapping software, which presented quite a challenge, as I hadn’t heard of either! Enter the Buzan Mind Map book. I thought it was great. I could clearly see how it worked and the potential for everyone, not just my students. Adapting the Buzan methods to the then diagram based Inspiration required some out-of-the-box thinking but I got there. Attending a Buzan two-day course helped me to fill in some of the gaps I had and it was helpful to talk to people from varying backgrounds, learning how they use it.

3. What do you perceive to be the single greatest benefit of mapping?

Making things clear. Whether you are using it to plan a project, take notes or give a presentation it’s, ability to give clarity is unbeatable. Being able to use colour, pictures and structuring it in a way that make sense to you means the information is personal. It’s like you now own it!

4. What role does mapping play in your day-to-day work?

I use it to plan courses, curriculum, presentations and note taking at meetings. Whereas I used to do a lot of hand drawn mind maps I now use software most of the time. iThoughts on my iPad is excellent. Having such a comprehensive package on a portable device is great. Inspiration, Mind Jet, MindGenius and MindView are the main products that I teach which keeps me on my toes. I spend a good deal of my time showing students how to get the best out of mind maps to support them in planning and writing essays, note making, organising their day and giving presentations. Using the Buzan methods as a basis helps them focus on what the information they’re studying is really about. I also try to promote mind mapping amongst colleagues and have arranged workshops in the use of Inspiration and MindView which we have site licences for. Part of my job is to make sure the networked Assistive Technology is working and kept up-to-date, which includes mind mapping software.

5. How have your students reacted to the use of maps and what difference has it made to their work?

This is probably the best part of my work. Although students come from school and college having used mind maps they often have a very patchy idea of what it is and are doubtful it can help them. As I talk them through the software and demonstrate how they should be using it to make information clear it is often like turning the light on in a dark room. They go from “don’t see the point in being here” to “this is great”. Tying in study skills with mind mapping software allows them fulfil their potential, especial the dyslexic students. Most dyslexics have short-term memory and organisational problems but are very visual, they have to think out-of-the-box to get round this. It’s like mind maps are made for them.

To take one area as an example, note making from textbooks. If you have a short-term memory problem this becomes a nightmare. Why am I reading this? What am I looking for? What was the question? What’s important? I take them through some basic study skills and show them how mind maps can be used and by focusing on the main central topic they can record small scraps of information using just key words which can be added to and easily reorganised (one of the benefits of software based maps). It means they don’t have to remember large amounts of data. It is recorded in a way that makes sense to them with their key words and is easily restructured. The result is a sense of relief and a positive view of note making.

I have visited a lot of student accommodation, not always a pleasant experience….. but it’s great to see printed mind maps small and very large on walls, fridges and ceilings!  They love them.

6. What do you think is the greatest barrier to wider adoption of mapping in education? And where within the education sector do you think mapping could have the biggest impact?

The understanding of and training in the many uses of mind mapping. Teachers are overloaded from primary through to senior school and like most good tools mind mapping would make their own and students’ life easier but how to find the time and where to go for advice? Web sites like Biggerplate can play a part. I’ve certainly picked up some good ideas but more specific training is required.
Primary school has to be the starting point. Learning is fun at that age so if mind maps become a part of their learning tools they will carry it through their education and into their working life. After all mind maps are fun whether you are 5 or 50!

7. Would you like to add anything else?

I would certainly like to ‘Big Up’ Biggerplate. Looking at example maps I have found solutions to some tricky problems and the webinars have been helpful. Lets have more of the same with an even greater variety.

A huge thank you to Martyn for sharing his experiences with us, and we wish him and his students the best of luck for the future!

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