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The Teaching Space Podcast

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Apr 25, 2020

Episode 89 of The Teaching Space Podcast explores the use of mind maps for teachers, trainers and students.


There’s a lot of buzz about graphic organisers at the moment (also known as concept maps and knowledge organisers). And rightly so, they are an amazing way for students and teachers alike to chunk up aspects of a subject and make connections between themes and ideas. If you Google ‘graphic organisers’ you’ll find a range of templates from simple to complex. Oliver Caviglioli has some great templates and examples.

I’d like to go back to basics on this particular theme and focus on the one graphic organiser layout I know you will have used at one point before: the mind map.

What is a Mind Map?

It’s a map of information. You start with a central topic or theme and then you branch out into a map that looks like a cross between a spider’s web and a train map. I have planned this podcast episode using a mind map - check out the show notes to see it.

A mind map is a visual or graphic way of ‘chunking up’ and organising information, ideas and/or knowledge for a variety of different reasons. It is like an outline, but not linear; with a mind map can make connections between ideas. Tony Buzan refers to this approach as ‘radiant thinking’.

Why Use a Mind Map?

There are lots of different reasons. I tend to use them for planning (for example, this podcast episode, see the mind map below) but they can do so much more.

Mind maps are a great way for students to take notes in a lesson or plan a project or assignment. Teachers can use mind maps in the same way for professional learning and development. Mind maps can be used for event planning, goal setting and making notes on books you read.

How do I Make a Mind Map?

I’ll use the example of planning this podcast episode.

I started by putting my main theme in the centre of the page: ‘mind map podcast episode’. I then created several branches out from that theme to cover the main sections of the topic, these were:

  • What is a mind map?
  • Why use a mind map?
  • How do I make a mind map?
  • What tools do I need?
  • Why does mind mapping work?

Writing these first level sections (known as nodes or parent nodes) worked well as questions for this episode as I am trying to solve a problem.

I then created branches from each parent node (these are known as child nodes, and those on the same level are sibling nodes) to break down the answer to each question.

You’ll see in the show notes that the node called ‘why use a mind map?’ has two child nodes and then each child node has further child nodes.

Let’s talk tools.

What Tools do I Need?

There are a variety of different ways to make a mind map, the most obvious being pen and paper or a whiteboard. While I am normally a tech gal, I can certainly see the advantages of being hands on when mind mapping. That being said, if, like me, you love an app, then I can recommend Coggle and Mind Node; both have freemium pricing models. At the moment, I am using Mind Node.

Why Does Mind Mapping Work?

Mind mapping helps you make connections between ideas - in a learning environment this will hopefully be the creation of connections between existing knowledge and new knowledge. Also, mind mapping allows you to break complex ideas down into smaller chunks, this makes things easier to understand.

Wrap Up

And that’s it. If you have any questions about this episode or comments you’d like to share please join The Teaching Space Community:

The show notes for this episode include any links I’ve mentioned; you can find them at

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Thanks for listening and I hope you’ll join me for the next episode.