How Mind Maps Can Inspire Collaborative Learning

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Every tool is created with a pre-established purpose. The purpose is often times to meet a certain need that the user may have or to help the user accomplish something and improve his work activity. Some of the most popular tools that are revolutionizing the educational field and not only are the so called “collaborative learning tools”.

There are some questions that inevitably arise every time something new appears or is promoted on the market. Most of the times, these questions refer to the benefits, utility and necessity of the newly created and launched tool? More specifically, the questions will focus on the What? Why? and How? related to the tool, namely:

  • What are the benefits that come from using a collaborative learning tool?
  • Why should I use a collaborative learning tool?
  • How should I use a collaborative learning tool?

One of the most important things you need to establish before deciding on a collaborative learning tool is the type of activity you are developing and the purpose you desire to accomplish. If your main educational purpose is to increase student involvement and collaboration, then you may want to consider a mind mapping application as a collaborative learning tool option.

What are the benefits of using a mind mapping tool for your teaching activity?

A mind mapping tool creates the right context where students can develop their critical thinking, creativity, independent thought process and teamwork skills.

When engaging in collaboration using a mind mapping software, there are several benefits that have a great impact on the learner as he interacts with others and discovers different ways of managing new information and content:

  • easy management of content
  • flexibility in organizing new ideas
  • collaborative learning at a distance
  • visible tracking of students’ activity
  • real time group collaboration

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Learning is about keeping an active mind as one engages in processing any new information. The efficiency of a collaborative learning tool becomes more powerful depending on its capability to keep the learner involved in developing his critical thinking and motivated to process new information.
A mind mapping application allows the instructor to create any type of informational sketch or outline, which can be used as a starting point by students. This method of sharing basic content encourages personalized learning. This way, students learn to think critically by asking questions, requiring feedback, adding comments and practicing their own creativity as they add on new content. The more the student becomes an active collaborator in the learning process the faster he will be able to own and interpret the delivered information.

How can a student use a collaborative learning tool like mind mapping to improve his school performance and information retention?

Since a mind mapping app is also a visual tool it facilitates the integration of videos, audio files and presentations within the context of a mind map. Having the possibility to integrate images, to add links and style content according to their preferences, students have the possibility to be very creative in the way they manage and organize their piece of art. In addition to this, using mind mapping for collaborative learning, students can work together on assignments or new projects. They can easily distribute documents and share their work with other people by inviting them to participate with feedback on a mind map.

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The variety of learning preferences and learning styles becomes very evident within the educational process and especially within a collaborative learning context.

Since learning preferences are a respecter of students’ personalities, this is where mind mapping comes in as a visual helper to improve the learning experience of any learner.

There are numerous collaborative learning tools which you can choose from. It’s your call to see how much you are willing to adapt your learning style and to explore new ways of improving your learning skills.

Is your learning style efficient? Do you have any learning preferences which you left untapped? If you have already benefitted in your teaching and learning activity from using a collaborative learning tool could you share what made your experience successful?