Rethinking Notes: How mind mapping can be used in lecture

In discussion one day, our TA broke us up into groups and told us all to think of the past works we had read and identify similar themes between them. We were tasked to discuss these among ourselves and then post our conclusions on the board for the rest of class to see. While my group and I were talking about Don Chipote and Maria Crisitna Mena’s short stories, I realized that this was all too much to remember, so I volunteered to write our thoughts on the board as they came up.

That’s when the bubbles started, or mind map as some people may call it. It began with just two bubbles, gender and colonialism. Then, 20 minutes later my TA had me continue our bubbles, adding on to what the rest of the class was saying. By the end of discussion, my class had amassed a wall’s length worth of notes. Everyone loved the collective mind map we created, it was brainstorming for our midterm in-class essays.

After that episode in discussion, I started experimenting with my notes. I tried to incorporate the same mind map structure to my in-class note habits, in case I ever wanted to go back and find similarities that I couldn’t see before.

The verdict?

I’m not sure. My mind map style of note taking seemed to work for some class material but not for linear lectures were there were a lot of historical details. I felt like I needed a more organized way of note taking for lecture based material. During my seminar style classes, on the other hand, mind maps worked great, because the discussion wasn’t bound to a specific topic, like a lecture. The discussion moved and my notes reflected this, tracing back the connections my classmates made to show me how it was, exactly, that we go to where we did.

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