“The software has changed the whole way students work and think throughout the dissertation process… They produce results which would never have been possible without iMindMap.”
ThinkBuzan Licensed Instructor: Paul Roberts
Accredited: Cardiff, UK, 2011
Profession: Principal Fellow, International Manufacturing Centre, University of Warwick
In this guest post, ThinkBuzan Licensed Instructor, Paul Roberts, shares his experience of delivering iMindMap workshops for postgraduate students at the University of Warwick and how iMindMap has helped his students achieve excellence in their studies.
As a ThinkBuzan Licensed Instructor, Paul is accredited to provide official Mind Mapping and iMindMap training. He has in-depth knowledge of both the technique and the software and clearly demonstrates this to each group of new students.
Aside from being a Principal Fellow and accredited trainer, Paul is responsible for guiding postgraduates through their studies and he holds regular iMindMap workshops in the university’s computer lab to develop their skills. In the past year alone, Paul has given 600 postgraduate students, from over 65 nations, an introduction to iMindMap. Students are taught how to use the software for dissertation planning, studying, research, analysis, strategising and assimilating information.
To get students started in the workshop, Paul provides 3 iMindMap templates which they can build upon throughout the year.
1) Dissertation Planning
Time and time again, students struggle to plan their dissertation. Given that dissertations are typically a quarter of a final grade, it’s essential to perfect the planning process before ploughing on. After all, as the saying goes, fail to plan and plan to fail and this is where iMindMap comes into its own. Paul uses this tool to help students organise their thoughts, structure their dissertation and determine the direction they should take.
iMindMap Template: Dissertation Planner
The dissertation template encourages students to fully assess every aspect of their dissertation before diving in head first. They must plan their methodology and process for data analysis, undertake contingency planning for any problems which may occur and define a timeline for their work. Each student can refer back to their Mind Map and build on it in each meeting with Paul.
“If I can unlock the minds of my students so that they can think and not just do, then I have been successful at my job. I want to promote a creative learning environment and provide my students with life-long skills. I believe that the tools, resources and techniques provided by ThinkBuzan have helped me to achieve this goal.”
1) Conducting a Literature Review
The literature review is one of the most time-consuming, yet crucial, aspects of a dissertation. The internet can be friend or foe and whilst it provides a wealth of information, Paul finds that many students experience information overload at this stage. Even when they have narrowed down their sources, there are difficulties cohesively linking their research to their arguments. In his iMindMap workshops, Paul finds the software invaluable for showing students how to frame their review and avoid sinking under a pile of journals.
“With Mind Mapping, if you get stuck, you can move on and come back to it later whereas with linear notes, you feel as though you need to get everything sorted from the start. It also becomes very difficult to slot in information later on.”
iMindMap Template: Literature Review Framework
The Literature Review template enables students to identify the key topics which they wish to discuss in their dissertation and use their literature sources as a basis for important sub-topics. Students can keep track of sources by attaching a wide range of multimedia resources including journals or academic papers to their branches in iMindMap. This makes referencing as stress-free as possible as they are all in one place and therefore easy to locate at a later date.
“Each branch and sub-branch in iMindMap becomes a bucket of knowledge with audio notes, web links, notes and themes.”
1) Determining Research Methods
Research methods are a core element of the dissertation process and one that is not to be underestimated. Paul asks his students to fully assess the methods which they wish to implement and then identify which methods would be best suited to their project.
iMindMap Template: Research Methods Framework
This template can be used to gain an overview of the various research methods and facilitate a final decision. Students must explore every aspect in great depth and consider factors such as how to gain participants, the requirements for each method and its strengths and weaknesses. The format of the Mind Map allows students to explore each and every aspect in-depth and produce endless options which ultimately leads to better decision making.
How does iMindMap benefit Paul’s students?
Paul has witnessed significant improvements in the way in which students tackle their dissertations and the quality of the work they submit. He feels that this can be directly attributed to the planning conducted in iMindMap.
“The software has changed the whole way students work and think throughout the dissertation process. I see the light bulb moments where students suddenly make the connection between their findings. They definitely produce results which would never have been possible without iMindMap.”
Paul also shows his students how to export their Mind Maps and attachments into Microsoft Office. He finds that this is extremely useful when students are tackling larger tasks and projects. The software gives students more flexibility in their organisation, preparation of information.
“iMindMap is THE tool to overcome writers block as students can record ideas as and when they occur. Mind Mapping on the computer is such an information-rich activity which students find both enjoyable and beneficial; it’s a rare combination.”
Final thoughts on iMindMap
“iMindMap is so close to pen and paper that it’s easy to learn. The software and the maps it can create are so aesthetically pleasing that it makes it a pleasure to work with and that’s why I use it for everything I do. You don’t think that one piece of technology can change the way you approach every task but iMindMap has for me.”
What’s next for Paul?
Paul is looking to scale up his iMindMap workshops and tailor his courses to address the individual problems experienced by the students. He also aims to incorporate hand drawn Mind Mapping and make his workshops available to more students at the University.
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