“This tool is fantastic. Not only are they learning how to use a new piece of software, but they are immediately immersed in the project. It’s a real gem for project building.”
For Isabelle, Sales Instructor at the Emile Zola Professional College, Bar-le-Duc in France, mind maps and MindView are the obvious tools to use in project preparation. Therefore, when launching her Christmas Market project, she decided to introduce her first-year students to both mind maps and MindView.
The aim of this vocational course project was to sell products designed by the students themselves at the local Christmas Market. The students were responsible for the entire project, from organizing the sourcing of the goods to setting up the stand and managing the selling.
Introduction to mind maps
To help students approach the project, Isabelle encourages them to express their ideas, then draws a mind map on the board, with the main theme at the center and the students’ ideas as sub-branches. She explains that when developing a project, a mind map provides an ideal way of collecting ideas and organizing them logically. The students’ participation is entirely verbal. They can write their ideas on the board, but don’t take any notes or use any written support. They concentrate fully on the results they plan to achieve.
Discovery of MindView by the students themselves
At the next session, Isabelle starts by checking what the students remember of the project preparation session, then announces the day’s objective, which is to make a computerized version of the mind map created the day before, using MindView. She lets the students discover the tool by themselves to speed up the familiarization process: “The students get familiar with the software much more quickly when they explore it independently. They discover the features themselves and it is very interesting to see how they share their findings.”
Recognition of the students’ achievements
“The project is constructed and expanded entirely by the students, which makes them appreciate the different steps involved.” After helping the less enterprising pupils to get started with MindView, she guides them and encourages them. When a student discovers a new feature, she uses the projector to present it to the rest of the class, inviting them to use it. This ensures that the students’ contributions are properly valued.
A digital resource that is easy to grasp and helps enormously the students with a strong visual memory
Apart from an initial reticence to try things out, which is quickly overcome, the students don’t have many issues during the discovery phase. Isabelle also notes that the students manage to construct their mind map with MindView on their own, just by relying on their visual memory of the first mind map drawn on the board and the ideas that they suggested. “This tool is fantastic. Not only are they learning how to use a new piece of software, but they are immediately immersed in the project: ‘Miss we found this! We thought we would include that!’. Then we pull everything together, and it’s really rewarding. It’s a real gem for project building.”
Advice for teachers
Isabelle thinks it’s important to use it at the right time, to vary the learning methods, offer new learning resources and engage students to get their full attention around a new concept, while avoiding repetition.