Thanks to Liam Hughes and the Biggerplate team who invited me to introduce my method : Study Better with Visual Thinking. It was in Biggerplate Unplugged in Utrecht, on Wednesday the 9th of October.
I already published an article about my five step method “How to study better with visual thinking“. But the wonderful Biggerplate team invited me to introduce it during the Biggerplate Unplugged event in Utrecht on Wednesday the 9th of October.
I made a prezi presentation about it, I hoped it was good enough to make a nice talk and I sent the package to Liam Hughes.
So on Wednedsday, I was right in front of a panel of mindmappers from all over Europe : from Spain to Scotland through Belgium, France and the Netherlands. And I showed them this :
Mindmaps are fantastic to show you the structure of a course, an organization or a group of concepts. Flashcards are great when you want to study details, definitions or formulas. With XMind2Anki, combine the power of mindmaps and of flashcards to study even more efficiently!
If you are a regular mindmap user, you already know how efficient they are to study : they are a fantastic way to find the links between concepts and to show the structure of any set of thoughts. You already found out how the association of keywords, pictures, branches and colours helps you to better understand and memorize.
If you use flashcards to prepare for your exams, you already know how helpful they can be to memorize very quickly a huge amount of new words in your own language or in a foreign idiom, definitions or maths and sciences formulas.
What if you could combine the powers of those two fabulous tools? If you could use the links, the structure, the global view of a mindmap as well as the powerful details memorization of flashcards?
Of course, it would take a lot of time to gather the elements of your mindmap to turn them into a deck of flashcards!
But, imagine that an application could automatically turn your mindmap into a deck of flashcards? You could take advantage of both techniques without wasting your time copying items from one medium into the other…
XMind2Anki : the power of mindmaps and flashcards
Such application exists : it is called XMind2Ankiand it has been developed by my friend Bruno Martin who is finishing his PhD thesis in Paris (you can follow him on Twitter : @itc4efficiency)
It is a small application that you can download and use entirely for free : no bad surprises!
Draw your mindmap as usual. In this article, we’ll see the simplest method : one question and a set of answers per branch (or topic, in XMind lingo). In another article, we’ll see how to use filters to export more complex mindmaps.
I made a mind map about the French Presidents of the Fifth Republic.
This is a very simple 2 level mindmap : the first level – Premier, Deuxième, Troisième, etc. – will be our question. Who is the fifth French President of the Fifth Republic?
The second level – for instance, Jacques Chirac, 29-11-1932, etc. – will be the answer.
Nothing very complicated!
Using XMind2Anki for the first time
Once you have downloaded your application, you get a .rar file. You have to decompress it in order to launch it. Then, click on the xmind2anki.exe file, if your OS is Windows ; click on the .jar file, if you work with Mac OS or Linux. Xmind2Anki can work with the three operating systems.
When you launch XMind2Anki, the following menu pops up on your screen :
Turn your mindmap into a deck of flashcards
First, click on the red button, in the superior left corner of the menu. This will indicate to XMind2Anki which XMindmindmap you want to export to Anki. In this case, I select my French Presidents mindmap.
Then, choose a name and a location for your Anki file.
When it’s done, simply click on the green button, on the right. XMind2Anki starts to export your mindmap as a new deck of Anki Flashcards!
Since I have only 8 topics, the exportation takes only a few seconds!
If I look closely at my XMind mindmap, I’ll find out that a tiny icon appeard in the central topic : it is the Anki icon and it is a hyperlink towards the desk of flashcards I just created.
If I click on that tiny icon, I’ll open my new desk of Anki flashcards!
Here is a sample of my new desk about the French President : this is the fourth topic of my XMind mindmap and the fourth flashcard of my Anki deck : François Mitterand, who was the fourth President of the Fifth French Republic.
The word “Quatrième” – fourth in French is my question. So, who was the French president ? The answer is François Mitterand and I can see his picture. All the subtopics the branch François Mitterand became parts of the answer, listed in a bullet list under the picture.
Now, I can study the presidents of the Fifth French Republic combining the structuring powers of the XMind mind map and the memorizing powers of the Anki flashcards.
And you : are you also using this kind of techniques ? Or do you study with other tools ? Which ones ? What kind of results do you get ?
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How to study faster and better ? How to memorize things ? How to understand better ? How to get ready for the next exam ? Here is my method in five steps to study better with visual thinking and memory techniques.
If you examine the main difficulties of the students, in secondary school as well as at the university, it seems that “learning to learn” is the key expression. Some teachers event refuse to admit that there is such thing as “learning to learn“.
And yet, I’ve helped a lot of student by teaching them this method : everybody has the potential to learn better. If you get the appropriate method and the right tools.
I’ll consider each stage in detail in articles to come. But let’s review the whole method here !
First step : Reboost your motivation !
In order to learn, you need to be motivated.
So, think about your studies as a project. Each of your courses can be considered as a project with Smaart goals, deadlines, tasks to achieve.
I personally use an adapted version of GTD with Mindmeister.
Define your goals and your motivations : why do I study ? Whom do I study for ? Myself ? My parents ? My professors ? My girlfriend ?
What do I want to achieve ? What kind of profession do I want to do later ? What are the stages, the necessary training, the adequate degrees to reach that long term goal ?
What do I like ? What do I really want to learn ?
If you know yourself and what you want to achieve, if you have the right tool to handle the workload of studies, you can succeed. And guess what ? Succeeding is the best way to succeed ! What I mean is : succeed in small things first, that will strenghten your selfconfidence, and you’ll be able to succeed in bigger stuff. And finally, you’ll succeed in your studies as well!
Second step : get back in touch with your course
The day itself, when you go back home, open your books and reread your notes : read slowly, let the ideas get back to you.
Jot down some notes with a mind map : I don’t know any more powerful or efficient tool to summarize something than mind mapping !
The association of keywords, colours, images, branches, place on the sheet, everything concurs to memorize and understand better than with boring linear notes.
This is the best way to understand the structure of your course, how elements and concepts are linked together. This is something most students have difficulties with…
Try to remember what the teacher or the professor said. Try to identify what you don’t really understand and ask for some explanation. This is the right time to do so : you have fresh ideas, it will be easier to connect the new concepts to what you already know. Futhermore, if you wait for the day before the exams, everybody will be busy and who will waste that precious time to share something with you ?
Third step : reactivate your memory
The secret of memorizing is : first, understand what you learn. Create links and associations with what you already know.
Make another mindmap or complete the one you started at the previous step. Then, try to ask your own questions, with the 5 W’s & 2 H’s method. This is a very old and efficient way to learn.
When you summarized the course with your mindmap, you entered the matter through the professor’s path. It was His or Her structure.
By asking questions over the course, you’ll build your own path, your own way to question and to understand everything.
Fourth step : reuse the course
When you read your books and your notes, you use some groups of neurons in your brain. But when you sit for the examination, you’ll have to answer questions or write a paper about that course. And those are different cognitive skills which use other parts of your brain. So, you have to train the right groups of neurons to succeed…
Use concept maps to grasps the different concepts. Use flashcards to memorize definitions, names, formulas. Use devices like XMind2Anki to turn your mindmap into a deck of flashcards.
Fifth step : revise and exercise
The best way to learn on the long run is to vary the tools and the techniques : use bubble and doublebubble maps to compare two objects or groups of concepts.
Teach ! Tell your stuff to a person who doesn’t know anything about it. This is the best way to learn : why do you think professors know their courses so well ? Because they keep on teaching it !
In order to explain something, you have to understand it very deeply, to the minute details…
So, train, review, exercise, vary the methods and the techniques. This is the secret : use your whole brain !
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