Concept Mapping or Mind Mapping Overview Concept mapping, mind mapping, tree diagrams, organization charts, spider diagrams are all terms used to describe graphical organization methods. These are used for storing, processing, organizing and presenting information graphically. A number of software packages are available which will help you draw these diagrams and output them in various forms. But what do these terms mean? Why are these mapping techniques useful? Who uses them and why are they so popular? A concept map is a web diagram where each “node” or “point” contains an idea, concept or question that is clearly framed with very little chance for ambiguity. These ideas are linked together by branches to show their relationship to each other. It should be noted that concept maps do not always have to take the form of a web – they can be presented as a tree diagram or organizational chart, as an input or output tree or as a flow chart. Other types of mind maps have been developed for particular uses – tree diagrams for structured hierarchical diagrams such as organizational charts; input and output trees for showing processes. However, it is really up to the user as to which layout best suits the individual need and environment. It is also important to make choices based on a person’s learning style or personal preferences. Usefulness of Mapping Brainstorming - this is an idea generation technique that can be used by an individual or by group. A topic or idea begins the process whether on paper or on computer. Then any ideas, concept, keywords, processes or images relating to the problem or topic are recorded. These form the “nodes” of the map. The relationships between each node, the branches, are then added to start the diagram building process. A hierarchy can be introduced into the map as some ideas may form subsets of others or can be grouped together. As the map is formed it may have additional graphical elements, colour and other cues to help the user retain or reorganize information. The results of a brainstorming session can be a concept map that has many uses: It can form the basis of an essay or project; it can produce the solution to your problem, or it can be saved to be used as a revision tool at a later date. Visual display of information – Some find the major advantage of concept maps is that they present information Sample mapping visually. Many people with dyslexia prefer visual thinking and seeing information graphically can increase both creativity and retention. Images can be used instead of words and tools such as colour; sizing and spatial position can be used to convey information on topics, importance or actions to be taken. Large amounts of information can be stored at many levels but seen as a whole rather than as a mass of text streaming down a page. Outlining - concept mapping programs can be used for outlining documents, presentation or projects. This is possible because the programs contain functions that convert the graphical map view into a text version of the map. Notes functions allow the user to attach text, references or hyperlinks to ideas within the map. Some programs have basic word processing functions in their notes entry boxes, allowing for the addition of lists and tables. Others make an automatic list function from the concept map that can be exported to a word processor. For people with dyslexia, being able to develop a draft version of a document in a visual environment is a great bonus.
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