1. Perry, William MA, RN

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The Internet has brought the spirit of global communication and collaboration to nurses and other healthcare professionals in ways never before thought possible. These resources are offered to expand your opportunities for discussion, reference, education, and research.


How do you take notes during a brainstorming session? Outlines, lists of various sorts, color codes, pictures, all are devices to lend structure to the information being collected. Mind Maps are a graphical organizational framework to show relationships and categorize ideas. The Wikipedia ( describes them as a "pictorial representation how a central concept is linked to other concepts and issues. It is similar to a semantic network or cognitive map but there are no formal restrictions on the kinds of links used. Most often the map involves colour or monochrome images, words, and lines. The elements are arranged intuitively according to the importance of the concepts in the mind and they are organized into groupings, branches, or areas." A quick tutorial on how to create a mind map is at Notice how the map is also used as a graphical menu on the Web page.


How are mind maps used within nursing? Several articles have appeared in CIN, as well as other nursing journals, describing mind maps as tools to evaluate education needs, nursing diagnosis, and as a tool to facilitate critical thinking. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) has a mind map of the electronic medical record at ( Mindmaps are a potentially useful classroom tool and have a great potential in the clinical environment during staff meetings.


There are many software packages available to help you construct mind maps. Here are several that fall into the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) domain.


Info Rapid ( was developed in Germany and they offer a freeware personal as well as a fee-based commercial application.


FreeMind-free mind mapping software ( is a cross platform, open source application available for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux operating systems. In addition to the graphical maps, it can export the information into html pages with a folding outline structure for use in other documents.


Think Graph ( is a freeware product developed in France and describes itself as "Think Graph is a 2D Drawing application specialized for Concept Maps authoring. A concept map is a diagram meant to represent Ideas(each idea being represented by a shape (i.e. rectangle, ellipse, image). This diagram becomes a concept map when relations link these ideas and Hypertext Links are added to these ideas which allows navigation to other either a detailed description (e.g. a web page providing details on this idea) or an other concept map.


"Circle of Excellence ( is a British site that provides a number of free tools. Click on the "software downloads link "to display the list of applications. Among them is Brain Box Pro Version 4.0 which is described as "Brain Box Pro combines a well featured flowcharting program with wizards and notes to help you select and use a wealth of creative thinking techniques.


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William Perry, MA, RN