Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Using MindGenius throughout a school

Hamilton College is a co-educational Christian independent school for pupils aged 3 to 18. Currently the school community has around 650 children and young people in the Nursery, Junior and Senior Schools and around 100 teaching and support staff.

Hamilton College has been using MindGenius for more than 3 years and it is available to all staff and pupils.

Here Lynn Dobbie, Pupil Support (Learning) Teacher, talks about how MindGenius is typically used in the school:

Lynn believes MindGenius helps support personalised learning to complement all learning styles.
   By its very nature, MindGenius software benefits and enriches learners’ experiences in the following ways:
  • Visual learners can quickly build up a bank of information independently and format mindmaps appropriate to individual preferences.
  • Auditory learners can use the software as a note-taking tool, convert mindmaps into Word documents then use additional text to speech software to extend their understanding and learning.
  • Kinaesthetic learners benefit as they are actively engaged in their learning.  The whole process of “doing” is paramount.
The example below is a map that was gathered in a class brainstorming on “Edinburgh.” The teacher used MindGenius on a whiteboard and passed around a wireless keyboard to the class and everyone added their own ideas. This allows learners to feel involved in class as they can see their ideas on screen. The added bonus is, of course, that there is a mindmap available to store for future recall either as a class handout or as a study guide. In addition to this, the mindmap can be exported into Word or Powerpoint, this feature of the software is very popular with both learners and teachers alike.

Fig, 1 Class Brainstorming map
Please click for full screen view
In the example above, the teacher added graphics that correlated with some of the branches on the map, this made the map more memorable and more visually engaging for the learners, who can themselves easily add graphics and colour if they are working on a personal map. The ability to personalise the map helps promote creativity.

When ideas are first captured in class, it is often with a flat structure but as more ideas are added, common themes can become apparent and the teacher (or learners) can either drag and drop them into more appropriate locations, or categories can be assigned, like on the agenda below for a Prefect’s meeting. On the example below, categories have been added to visually signify the day of the week decisions have been made, progress on a task as well as the chosen decision for the new duty structure.
Fig. 2 Prefect's Meeting Minutes
Please click for full screen view
At Hamilton College, there is a balance between whole class use of MindGenius and learners working independently. Pupils use MindGenius for developing mindmapping skills, extended writing planning, topic/project/oral talk planning, homework, revision, and meeting minutes.

In addition, MindGenius is regularly used for strategic school planning, the School Improvement Plan (SIP) for example, has been presented to the Board of Governors, staff and parents and has been posted on the school’s website using MindGenius (see below). More generally, MindGenius is used in school by staff for lesson planning, meeting management, topic revision, planning/structuring PowerPoint presentations, giving feedback to pupils, collaborative working, and strategic planning.
Fig. 3 School Improvement Plan
Please click for full screen view
Introducing a new piece of software to a school can be a big decision to make, at Hamilton College the pupils were introduced to MindGenius through a rolling “awareness raising” programme involving pupils from J4 to S6, run by the Pupil Support (Learning) team in conjunction with class teachers in Junior School and Pupil Support (Guidance) team in Senior School.

It’s not only the pupils at Hamilton College who use MindGenius, all teaching staff have had in-service training on using MindGenius and around 50-60% of staff regularly use the software. 


Finally,
Lynn also believes that MindGenius has enabled increased access to learning in Hamilton College as many learners store their MindGenius mindmaps on the Hamilton College Visual Learning Environment (VLE) – Moodle. This is inclusive and can be used for a variety of purposes including revision, for other learners who would like to extend their knowledge and for others who have missed a lesson in class.

Do you use MindGenius across your school? Is it similar to this use or how does it differ?

To download two of the maps from this article, please click below on the relevant link:


Edinburgh Sample Map

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