Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Mind Mapping Software and Different Learning Styles



Everyone learns differently and one common definition that is often applied in Education is Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic, often abbreviated to VAK. Visual learning applies to those people who learn best via pictures and diagrams; Auditory by absorbing information gathered from listening and Kinaesthetic via the process of “doing.”

While many people may be able to operate across all 3 styles, some prefer just one but all 3 different learning styles can all gain benefits from using mind mapping software.
Lynn Dobbie, Pupil Support (Learning) Teacher at Hamilton College believes:
  • Visual learners can quickly build up a bank of information independently and format mind maps appropriate to individual preferences.
  • Auditory learners can use the software as a note-taking tool; convert mind maps 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 either on an individual basis or as part of a group since the whole process of “doing” is paramount.
Visual learners can be particularly attracted to mind maps as it allows them to add graphics, colour and images to their notes. These help stimulate memory for this type of learner, improving memory recall.

The benefits for other types of learner may not be immediately as obvious but Auditory learners can benefit from the note taking process or collaborative learning sessions using the map where discussion plays a part of the learning experience. It might also help this type of learner to talk through the explanation behind each branch as they are putting their map together. An added benefit is that text to speech software can be utilised to consolidate learning.

Since Kinaesthetic learners enjoy activities where they “do” something, building a map can help them to be engaged. Focusing on how the branches look can also help with the “doing” process. Alternatively passing round a wireless keyboard in class, or having pupils move around to add ideas to a map at the front of class can help.

There are good tools online to identify different types of learner such as this questionnaire:
http://teachertools.londongt.org/index.php?page=VAK  

And the sample map below could be used with a junior class to assist all learners – the pictures on the map are of benefit to Visual Learners, and Auditory and Kinaesthetic learners could benefit from undertaking the activity as a class discussion, or in small groups.

Download “Thinking about Stories” sample map.

Do you have any tips for helping each type of learner to maximize their learning?

1 comment:

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