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Academic Productivity Tools

What is Mind Mapping?

Mind mapping is a method of writing down information that encourages you to group related ideas together around a central premise. It can be used for personal goals and business, but it's also very useful for academic work.

The Robert W. Woodruff Library owns a copy of Tony Buzan's The Mind Map Book, a useful guide to learning the process. The University of British Columbia produced this video for students interested in mind mapping:

Mind Mapping Software

There are dozens of products available for mind mapping for desktop computers, mobile devices, and on the Web. Some of them are paid downloads, others are shareware, and a few are completely free. Although it might be worth experimenting to see which software does best for you, Jason Fitzpatrick of LifeHacker put together a list of five good choices. Here are some others:

  • FreeMind
    FreeMind is mind-mapping software (written in Java) for PC or Macintosh. One drawback is that the program doesn't support simultaneous collaboration.
  • MindMup
    MindMup is a very basic mind-mapping site, still in beta (as of this writing). No account required.
  • Mind42
    Pronounced "mind for two," this site helps you create free (ad-supported) collaborative mind maps.
  • Mindomo
    Another free mind-mapping software website, Mindomo works on multiple computer and mobile platforms. There's also a version that's compatible with Google Drive.
  • Coggle is a newer free mind-mapping tool that's easy to use. You'll need a free Google account to sign up.

Mind Mapping Blogs

How to Create Mind Maps

ThinkBuzan has posted an article on its website that explains how to create mind maps. For those new to mind mapping, this could be the information you'll need to get started.

The company also has an article written on how students can use mind mapping, listing seven techniques that you may find helpful.

Still another article suggests study methods using mind mapping.

Mind Mapping Apps

Tablets are almost perfect for mind mapping. You've got the simplicity of a touch screen with the utility of a computerized tool. App developers know this, of course, and there's no shortage of mind-mapping apps available for multiple platforms. Some are dedicated to the tablet, others are variations of tools you'll find online. Some are free, others cost a few dollars. As with any productivity software, you may need to try a few before you find the one you like best.

So which should you try?

iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)

AppAdvice has a list of iPad apps that you can use for mind mapping. Some are more expensive than others, but many of them have extensive feature sets that could prove useful if you're a true devotée of the mind mapping process.


If you're an Android user, take a look at this list of TechRepublic's top five mind mapping apps for Android tablets. Some of them are cross-platform software, such as MindMeister, iMindMap, and MindJet.

Tips and Tutorials

James Cook University in Australia has put together a guide for students to learn mind-mapping techniques. Gina Trapani at LifeHacker

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