For the past 8 weeks, I have been noting my progress using MindManager exclusively as a note-taking tool for a New Testament Survey course that I have just completed. I wanted to see if I could take an entire course, using only mind maps as my knowledge capture tool. I also wanted to see if the visual capture, representation, and retrieval of information could be accomplished in real-time, on my laptop, as efficiently as I have been able to do in the past by hand...
Mind mapping has helped me increase my understanding of the material that I studied; it also improved my ability to quickly recall information in context. It was easy for me to visually organize the topical relationship between my notes - both while I was studying as well as in review.
I found that taking notes in class on my ThinkPad was easy, however, I was concerned that it might be distracting to the professor or to others in the room. (Michael Hyatt has addressed some of this in his post on why he bought a TabletPC.) Therefore, for the first part of this experiment, I primarily used MindManager outside of class to make maps of each book as I read and studied them.
One unexpected result of making mind maps for everything that I read or studied, was that it increased my study-time. However, It also increased my ability to recall information, so it was well worth it. I attribute this to the ease with which it was possible to go into greater detail -- sometimes much more than was required for the course. I found that it is simply more fun to study a visual map of my knowledge rather than a page of notes in linear form. Ultimately, I did have to limit the scope of my maps, based on my available time. Again, this is not a flaw in the methodology or the technology -- just me, learning how to best adapt these tools to my needs.
I consider my experiment, creating visual outlines in real-time, to have been a success.
Both my note-taking and my studies of the Scriptures have been enhanced as a result. Mind Manager, as a capture tool, facilitated the process greatly. I am starting to add ResultManager into the mix so that I can capture assignments and actions in real-time.
In addition to the digital maps on my laptop, I now have a 3-ring binder at home with large fold-out maps on each book I have studied and its background. (Yes, I know, I could keep the maps on my computer, but I still like the feel of flipping through paper.) I'm sure that when I get a TabletPC, I will think differently. (Open invitation for Marc or Michael to respond.)
For the student in us all, I highly recommend visual mapping as a study aid; MindManager is my tool of choice to create and manage my maps.
*The source materials I used for the course were, the New English Translation (NET Bible), as well as two reference texts: Survey of the New Testament, by Paul N. Benware, and The MacArthur Bible Handbook, by John MacArthur.