Quite a few people have commented on the note files that I have been sharing from the ISTE 2011 conference in Philadelphia. So I thought I would share some details about my note-taking process.
First of all, concept maps seem a logical way to take notes for me. They do not, by nature, expect complete sentences, but do carry a visual syntax of relationship, which is easily editable during less pertinent moments of a presentation or workshop.
The challenge has been to find a tool whose interface is simple enough for quick work, rather than just for the slower and more deliberate idea mapping, for which most concept mapping tools are designed.
I’ve used this technique for years on laptop settling on XMind, an open source product that is free, provides cloud space for sharing, and is cross-platform (Mac OS, Windows, & Linux). In February of 2010, XMind’s blog mentioned plans to develop an iPad version, but none exists at this time.
However, there is a plethora of other mind mapping tools available for the iPad, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. For a long time, my preference was SimpleMind. But its freeform functionality, though highly effective in some circumstances, requires attention to maintaining an practical flow of ideas.
I finally settled on Mindo, which is the app I used at ISTE11. It’s main power is the ease of use. When entering a list of items, I merely type the item name (I prefer to thumb on my iPad) and then touch [Next]. It starts another sibling box that fills as I continue to type. I can also start a new sibling item by double-touching just above or below and existing idea box and a new child item by double-touching to the right of an existing box.
Another huge benefit of Mindo for me is the fact that it will export to Dropbox in a variety formats — including xmind. So I can continue to work on maps on my laptop and vica versa. Other export formats include:
- PDF – Perhaps another logical format to use at conferences, but I haven’t tried it yet.
- TXT – In outline format and coded in HTML.
- OPML – Obviously a meta data markup language.
- MMAP – Not sure about this one
- FREEMIND – Possibly the most used open source mindmapping format. Most tools will export as FREEMIND
- MPAD – The native Mindo format
Click the image to the right and above for a video of Mindo in action.