Facilitator Journal | Issue #0148 | April 13, 2004 | 8,000 Subscribers...
I'm a big fan of
Mind Maps. I use them as a tool for facilitating and capturing my creative
ideas, finding that they not only capture my ideas as they come, in
typically a non-linear fashion, but that they also help to stimulate
my creativity in the process.
This week's article, "A Map for Learning," was submitted by
one of our readers, David Gibson,
with Eureka Accelerated Learning, Ltd. In this article, he shares several
great ways to use mind-mapping in facilitation and training. We hope
you try them out and find them to stimulate your groups in unexpected
any of you have any interesting stories or experiences about facilitation,
group process, work groups, team building, training, etc. that might interest
our readers, please email
them to us.
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A Map for Learning
As a fellow training facilitator, I am sure you have encountered and used,
what Tony Buzan made popular and calls "Mind Mapping." But how
many of you actually spend a couple of minutes to pass this skill on to
your learners and then have them utilise this as a tool during their workshop?
It takes literally 2 - 3 minutes to transfer the skill, learners love
it and can be successfully used as:
- A workshop opening.
- A note making
- A review.
- A workshop close.
Let's take a look at how you
might start to use this great technique in your very next workshop.
Though Tony Buzan made this
a very popular note making technique, you don't have to be a "purist"
mapper. If you prefer the idea of spider grams or pictograms then use
them the same way. Here's how I transfer the skill:
Transferring the Skill
- Working at
the flip chart, let learners know that you are going to give them a
for capturing and summarising masses of information all on one sheet
of paper that is fun, colourful and very easy.
- Ask the
group to call out a hobby that interests them.
- Write this
in the centre of the flip chart (e.g. keep fit).
- Ask the
group to shout out something to do with the hobby (e.g. gym).
- Draw a line
coming from the hobby and write the single word on the line.
- Ask them
to shout out words associated with the new word 'gym' (e.g. weights).
- Branch off
gym with the new words.
- Ask for
more on the original topic (keep fit) and keep branching (e.g. running).
- Ask for
a new topic off the original hobby (e.g. aerobics).
- Ask them
to branch off that one.
for 3 small branches.
That's enough for learners
to get the idea.You might
want to suggest that the branches are always drawn long enough to take
a single word, that they are always drawn so that text can all be written
and read without having to turn the page, and that each main branch off
the original word is done in a different colour.
Once learners know how to create
a mind map, here are some ways you can get them to use the new skill with
great effect during their workshop.
1. Hook into prior knowledge (start of workshop or module).
We often work with learners that have a high "entering ability,"
meaning they have a lot of experience and probably know more than they
think they do. Likewise we often get learners that think they know very
little about the workshop topic. To really get things off to a flying
start, as a facilitator we need to hook into that prior (or entering)
knowledge as fast as possible. Then learners immediately have something
which to connect the new information, making learning transfer easier.
- Ask learners
to form teams of 3-5 learners.
a flip chart and pens.
- Ask them
to put the topic to be uncovered in the centre of the flip chart. For
example, for Time
Management, you could actually use Time Management as the topic.
- Ask learners
to branch off this topic as much as they collectively know.
- Allow approximately
5 - 10 minutes for this.
- Ask learners
to then form connections between the branches where appropriate.
- Ask learners
to take a look at other teams mind maps and add any additional ideas
they see, to their own maps.
- Put these
maps on the wall and congratulate learners on the amount they already
know and suggest that you would like help them build on this information
and as they already know so much this is going to be easy ...
I find this a great lead into
2. As an Active note
making activity. Use this approach if you want to actively present
some new information rather than just let learners listen and fall asleep
to a passive presentation.
- Ask learners
to take a sheet of paper and turn it landscape.
- Ensure all
learners have coloured pens.
- Ask learners
to put the topic in the middle.
the first branch and offer the information.
then start to create their mind maps as you introduce this new information.
the second branch (done in a different colour) and offer the information.
for 4-6 branches (15-20 minutes).
- Allow a
couple of minutes (once you have offered all the information) for learners
- Ask learners
to find a partner not at their table.
- Ask them
to talk through their maps with each other and add to their map any
they may have missed.
Christophe has recently been working in France and Belgium with the oil
company ATOFINA. They are changing IT systems throughout the organisation
and has been working with teams of trainers at each site to help them
prepare their end-user workshops. As part of the trainer development,
the trainers needed to know the history for the change, the company structure
and the IT system structure. Normally this would have been done via 'Death
by PowerPoint'. Instead, he uses the method above and has them actively
map the information and then discuss it with each other. Result, learners
are actively involved, it appeals to several learning styles and most
of all, the information is easily and successfully transferred. It never
fails to amaze these trainers how much of this background information
they are able remember when they need to use it later in the day.
3. A Workshop Review.
Mind maps act as a great review technique. They seem to be most successful
immediately after lunch or at the start of a second or third day. Use
the technique to transfer the skill to your learners and then have them
work in teams of 4-5 and map the entire content of the workshop so far.
It's a great surprise to learners to actually see how much information
they have taken on-board. It therefore, not only acts as an active review
but it's also a great motivator. Always encourage each learner to produce
a different branch to the map keeping them all involved.Why not tack this
to the wall? After all, it's learners work that is most important!
4. A Workshop Close.
This is a fantastic closing technique to help celebrate how far learners
have journeyed in their development during the workshop. Again, have teams
of 4-5 work together to map the entire workshop. When they have finished,
have each team (one at a time), hold up their mind maps and have each
learner in the team explain their branch to the rest of the group (you
might want to limit each learner to 20 seconds each). After each team
as presented back, ensure they get a round of applause from the rest of
If teams work together,
they can take the maps with them at the end of the day and put them up
in their department as a reminder of their great discoveries.
About the Author:
David Gibson, with Eureka Accelerated Learning, Ltd. provides trainer
development for progressive trainers. He also publishes a free "Tips
for Trainers." Register for free at: http://www.eureka-tp.com.
Pick a tip above and try it out this week in one of your future presentations
or group meetings. Please email
us to tell us how it worked for you.
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