STAK Activity

Mindmap Your Notes

This activity helps students acquire non-linear note-taking to deepen knowledge and understanding.

Students tend to take notes in a linear fashion, recording points in the order in which the information was provided. This approach is familiar to most people but it’s often time-consuming and isn’t always useful in creating an understanding of a syllabus or committing key information to memory. Non-linear note-taking, using tools like Mindmap, helps students to take fewer, more meaningful notes and deepens their appreciation of the connections between concepts and topics, improving knowledge and understanding. This activity introduces students to digital mindmapping as a creative, playful and impactful approach to note-taking. 


On completing this activity, students will: 

  • Appreciate non-linear notetaking with mind maps as a stimulating, playful and creative approach to notetaking.
  • Understand the basic rules and concepts of mind mapping in physical and digital formats, and the benefits of using a digital too.
  • Be able to apply structure their mind maps so they can get a useful outcome from the notes takes. This also supports memorisation and understanding of a subject area.


In this activity, students practice by transferring linear notes taken on texts or in lectures into non-linear notes using a digital mind map. This helps them to: create a visual overview of contexts, relationships, and networks in a given topic; organise and structure knowledge from previous notes; and link knowledge to reduce complexity.


Ask students to bring to class the following: an article, notes they have made from a previous lesson, PowerPoint delivered during a previous less, lesson plans / reading lists and links to relevant online sources.


Step 1
Briefly introduce the concept of mind mapping as a technique to aid notetaking and comprehension.
Step 2
Introduce the mind map software you have chosen to use and key features such as structure, keywords, highways, branches, colours, symbols and pictures (see ‘Materials’).
Step 3
Ask students to create a mind map based on one of the texts they have brought with them. When reading the text, students should highlight keywords. These keywords form the basis for a mind map and students should divide them into a hierarchy/structure with a topic in the middle, main roads, branches, connections, and symbols.
Step 4
Ask students to create a mind map for a course using notes, PowerPoints, curricula and texts. Again, students should identify keywords. Applying the learning from the first exercise, encourage students to create a mind map with the topic of the course in the middle and from here main roads, branches, keywords, connections and symbols.
Step 5
Provide students with formative feedback during the process of creating mind maps. You are looking for mind maps that help students to make connections between concepts and topics, ideally across the course and between courses. A good mind map will concentrate a lot of information, should be able to be read in an instant and will make use of creative symbols and colours.
After the activity
Ask students to reflect and evaluate on the activities. Evaluation helps students connect their theoretical understanding of mind map approaches and the digital tools used to their notetaking practice. Here are some suggested prompts:
  • What have they found most valuable in the activities?
  • Is mind mapping important for creating an overview of a topic?
  • If/how they think mind mapping can be important for their learning in the future?


  • Review some of the external resources below to help prepare your presentation on digital mind mapping and its value as a notetaking tool. 

  • Select the mindmapping software you intend to use (see ‘External Resources’). 




Rustler, F. (2012). Mind mapping for dummies. Wiley  
Andersen, K., Jensen, CB. (2015). Visual mind mapping. (Mnemosyne Kurser and Forlag).
Kibenich, M. (2007). Mindmaps – a shortcut to an overview. (Jurist og Økonomforbundets Forlag).
Effective Note Taking in Lectures and Class Using Mind Maps blog post
15 Creative Mind Map Examples for Students blog post 


Birgit Larsen from VIA University College, Denmark.


  • Educator prep: Moderate
  • Duration: 30+ mins

This activity is one of a series of activities from the STAK Project, focused on developing students' digital skills. 

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