We spoke to Paul Roberts – Principle Fellow at the International Manufacturing Centre, Warwick University – to find out how he uses Mind Mapping to teach his masters and doctoral students. Specialising in management, creating business excellence, strategic deployment and knowledge management, Paul uses some unorthodox techniques to get his students alert and involved in lectures.
Paul first discovered Mind Mapping in the early 90s and began using it for work from the word go, in particular as part of his unconventional teaching style. Paul advocates ‘facilitating learning’ as opposed to lecturing in the traditional style.
Using a combination of short bursts of teaching, and team based problem solving; Paul encourages his students to learn through discovery rather than sitting in ‘receive mode’ all day. His workshops more closely resemble a nursery style of learning – ie ‘playing’- absorbing the knowledge without knowing it’s happening.
One of the ways Mind Mapping is incorporated is when he gets his students to summarise the key points of a topic they have just covered; drawing together their shared knowledge into one Mind Map.
His methods are a stark change from what his students are used to, requiring a more challenging level of participation than the usual lecture format. However, they appreciate the benefits, with one honest attendee admitting with surprise that they ‘didn’t fall asleep once’.
Mind Mapping is a new concept to most of Paul’s students when he introduces it in his Research Methodology module, but they pick it up fast. Within 30 minutes they can get a sense of how intuitive the technique really is; with some emailing him afterwards claiming that ‘this has transformed my learning’.
Paul described a time when one of his doctoral students had hit a brick wall with his doctorate – he had a complete mental blank and couldn’t produce any written work at all. Paul called him to his office and, using an interactive whiteboard, they Mind Mapped out his whole doctoral project on one page. He had a complete picture of how his doctorate would look and from that day forward it just flowed. He went on to produce a dissertation of over 150,000 words – all from the one Mind Map.
An ‘extremely powerful visual mechanism’, Paul also uses Mind Mapping to assess students’ work. When given a dissertation by one of his students, he sat down, Mind Mapped the contents page and using this to compare with the actual content, he picked out what was missing from it in under thirty minutes – no mean feat!
Paul finds that Mind Mapping not only saves him time and makes him more efficient, but also helps him to get the best results out of his students. Paul’s interactive learning experience may be more demanding than passively listening to someone talk for an hour, but for the typical student we’d bet it’s also a refreshing alternative to knocking back the coffees and just trying to keep your eyes open…
For more ideas on how to apply Mind Mapping and iMindMap in education, take a look at the Education area of our website. If you want to share your experiences with us too – we would love to hear them, so add a Comment below or submit a ticket through the website and we can have a chat about it.← Tony Buzan in Shortlist Magazine The London ThinkBuzan Licensed Instructor Course →