Mind mapping and concept mapping as techniques of teaching: a comparison

The two types of visual techniques have been developed by different groups of scholars. Thus, mind mapping was developed by Buzan (1974, 2000), while concept mapping was developed by Novak (Novak, 1981; Novak and Gowin, 1984).

A mind map is a presentation form of radiant thinking, utilizing lines, colors, characters, numbers, symbols, images, pictures or keywords, etc. to associate and integrate, visualize the learned concept and maximize brain potential (Buzan & Buzan, 1996).  Basing on free association and imagination, and using pictures and symbols to express the thoughts, mind mapping enhances creativity, problem-solving and deduction capacity.

The alternative notion, the concept map, has been developed as a research instrument. Novak şi Gowin (1984, p. 15) defined the concept map as „a graphic scheme that represent a set of meanings of the concept integrated in a frame of proposals”. A concept map uses diagrams organized in a tree structure, which include concepts framed in boxes. Starting from a key question, concepts are connected with linkage words, in order to form a statement.

The discussion about the potential of application of each technique in different areas and for different purposes should consider first their characteristics. For example, mind mapping can be used with no previous preparation in educational or professional settings. Being a deductive and a creative method, aiming to represent the mental structure of participants, cannot have as result major errors. Also, because previous preparations and lectures are not necessary (it is based on previous knowledge but the information needed as ground is rather general) it is not a need to select participants or to have a time reserved for preparation. Thus, can be used easily in professional and organizational settings (like group meetings, brainstorming, pitches, and so on). On the other hand, concept mapping cannot have the same degree of spontaneity as mind mapping. Concept mapping needs a previous time for preparation and a good understanding of definition of concepts. Therefore, concept maps cannot be created by any participant (should be selected upon their degree of competence to discuss a topic) and cannot be built spontaneously (it is not appropriate for an unannounced exercise in class). Finally, reviewing the types of application of method (for example, individual or group building of a map) becomes obvious that mind mapping can be applied in all types of settings (individual at home, in class individually, in group in class) and spontaneously, while concept maps are difficult to build in a group, and could be applied individually in class only after a time of preparation.

Entrepreneurship in the European space: the adaptation of qualifications to the European work market

The Romanian integration in the European professional space is a long and complex process, which is still not finished. One of the dimensions is the adaptation of qualification to the European Qualifications Frame. This frame has as objective the correlation of the national systems of professional qualifications by developing of clear description sets, that are valid throughout the European space and allow the identification of competencies required by a certain qualification.

The project „European Entrepreneurship – academic qualification for the Europeanization of the Romanian society”/POS DRU 140204, implemented by NUPSPA Bucharest in partnership with Vrije Universiteit Brussels, has as objective the adaptation of two areas to the work market – communication and European governance, and also the development of a new area of study, the European entrepreneurship. The project intends to promote also the academic qualification of expert in European affairs, which includes the professional skills that are necessary for performance in the European institutions as in organizations whose activities are expanded at the European level.

Three master programs in the College of Communication and Public Relations (Master of Communication and European Governance, Master of Project Management and Master of Brand Management and Corporate Communication) will benefit from this project, which will ensure a consulting process between academic institutions, employers and social partners, with the aim of determining the best construction of the academic qualifications.  The balanced and future-oriented design of academic qualifications in this project aims to support the vertical  professional mobility of postgraduates, to motivate the academic teachers involved for a superior level of performance and to offer for employers adequate instruments for the evaluation of competencies of job candidates.

Mind over…computer. Or vice-versa?

Lately, i`ve been quite attracted by a concept which has been gaining a lot of attention the past year. It`s called the Internet of Things (IoT) and i`m sure that many of you didn`t miss it if you`re into online, new media, cyberspace, web platforms and so on. The Internet of Things is mainly about data capturing and communication between devices (computers) via the Internet. So, if in the past we (humans) were the only ones able to control computers, now computers are able to communicate which each other. Enthusiasts say that this sort of communication (based on human`s inability to process a lot of data, decreasing attention spans etc) is helping people track their behavior and facilitate better lives, making everything easier. Just imagine this: if your boss were to change next day`s meeting and set it an hour earlier, your email would automatically signal your alarm clock (which you forgot to set the night before, being so tired from work lately) to turn on an hour earlier, your car engine would be signaled by the alarm to start de-freezing 10 minutes in advance on a cold winter, and your coffee maker would add an extra layer of caffeine to make sure you`re mentally focused early in the morning.
The reason why it`s called the internet of things is because anything can be connected if it`s uniquely identified within the system.
According to Cisco, ever since 2008 the number of devices connected to the Internet exceeded the number of people on Earth. Estimations go as far as predicting that by the end of 2020 there will be around 50 billion devices connected to the Internet. I don`t think you understand this figure: 50 Billion devices. And, of course, we`re not just talking about smartphones and tablets. As stated before, everything can be connected to the huge online network as long as it has sensors identified within the system. For example, cows can turn sick or pregnant and send a message to the farmer to react. The idea of smart and connected devices is appealing, but to a certain degree. Before accepting it as part of our daily lives, we must consider whether these devices will be the ones dictating our lives and not the other way around. People usually seek to escape technology, looking for remote locations where the sound of an Outlook alert is as faint at our childhood`s Tooth Fairy. So, how will we be able to escape technology if we are looking for ways to include it into our lives in such a way that we exclude everything else that is relevant: authentic connection between people and surrounding nature, or just between people for that matter?

Challenges for the future leadership

Nowadays, the increase of international organizations is liable to alter the interpretative perspectives on intercultural human interaction. By creating the organizational framework of communication between different nationalities, traditions and histories, rituals and values, norms and actions etc, the international actor will foster a symbolic domain where different cultures interact and interfere on a daily basis. Although it has been proven in time that similarity has a positive impact on social interaction and cooperation (Berscheid and Walster, 1978; Byrne, 1971, 1992; Byrne and Lamberth, 1971; Clore and Byrne, 1974; Morry, 2007), the future opens its gates to diversity at all levels.

As an international employee, one may face diversity continuously in her/his current collaborations – her/his co-worker, subordinate or manager may be of a different nationality, culture, religion, way of thinking and of expressing feelings and so on. Subsequently, the transformative action of individuals (nationally and culturally speaking) brings about the emergence of a specific reaction toward “the others”, a cultural disposition of overprotecting our own identity. The fear of being absorbed by another cultural model acts as a restraining factor against the others. We are proud of who we are, of our ways to think and act in the work context and meeting other styles may pose a huge pressure on our job efficiency. It is most likely that the cultural collision produces not only local disruptions, but overall consequences, at the company level.

In this respect, from Schein’s standpoint, cultural diversity within an organization cannot be approached otherwise, but through leadership-driven intervention and negotiation (Schein, 2009). This is why intercultural negotiation firmly requires an active leader who does not wait for positive outcomes to come naturally, but instead he totally assumes the corporate intercultural environment and he focuses his efforts on harmonizing the varied organizational cultures.

In other words, these efforts must become a key point on every leader’s agenda, starting from the moment when corporations make acquisitions, mergers or joint-ventures. All these facts involve different people who must integrate as well as possible in the new organizational social system as a condition for achieving their goals and the organization’s goals simultaneously. Moreover, the future leader will set himself up as a milestone and driving force of mobilizing the inner organizational cleavages toward an effective framework for negotiation.

What is Control Anyway? Changing Perspectives for Survival in the Online Space

People have always been obsessed about control. One of the most important sociologists describing the notion of self, Goffman (1959), developed a dramaturgical model, emphasizing that individuals engage in performances in order to control (to some extent) other individuals` impressions of them. As such, individuals either give or give off expressions. That is, they either give out information about themselves intentionally (verbally, non-verbally, but usually controlled body language), or non-intentionally (body language and facial expressions which cannot be controlled).
Same thing happens in social media. An enthusiastic Social Media or Marketing Manager gives a compelling message, meant to attract thousands of shares and likes and pins and views, and the list goes on. Then, one segment of the public returns with unanticipated and negative feedback, throwing out accuses and complaints about controversial campaigns (some really interesting examples can be seen here).
With respect to the social dimension of social media, and considering the hype around online crisis situations and the focus on communication practitioner`s lack of control, I must say that control is overrated anyway. What ever happened to natural interaction and engagement? Is that too hard to achieve? Maybe holding back the focus on volume and bringing more strategic emphasis on quality could reframe the way control is viewed in the first place. Neither marketing, nor communication practitioners can control messages, or information disseminated through social media, especially considering the growing numbers of tech-savvy users, who are constantly updated on ways to potentially ruin an organization or public figure. But instead of fighting these limits, threats, disadvantages, risks etc., of social media efforts, how about promoting what symmetry is really all about: credibility, transparency, trust, taking responsibility for mistakes and genuine interest in publics` needs?

Training your spontaneity for PR sake

Today, when everyone’s eyes and ears are somehow connected to social media, the art of impression management is a strategic tool for your reputation, whether you are a well known multinational corporation, a start-up or a public figure. However, similar to women’s oxymoronic effort to look as fresh and natural as they can (using as much make-up as it takes for this), the pressure of informality and ‘coolness’ can bring out grotesque face threatening public performances.

Informality, humour or role playing can be a resourceful way to win people over, to make them accept you as one of their own and make camera love you. Yet, as tempting as it seems, this is something that for some comes natural, while for others has to be carefully planned to look natural. If you have it, use it wisely, if not, accept it and, more important, fight it down and avoid your first instincts to be spontaneous. There are people and contexts for which informality and spontaneity are a perfect match and work as a PR ‘golden mine’, as well as there are people who walk into their own trap by choosing this path. Don’t bet your reputation on an improvisation act if you know you are not a gifted actor!

Plan-to-be-Spontaneous-Tomorrow_6175-lAs all other things that are socially (re)defined, in terms of PR impact, spontaneity is not a sure win by itself. However, it can become one if it is perceived as fitted with the one’s status, reputation capital, contextual performance and, moreover, with the public expectations for that particular communication situation. Media made us look for charismatic public figures in any domain, expecting that hollywoodian inspiring connection and communication charm. The fact is that is barely as simple and natural for everyone as they let it seem. Thus, instead of wasting time and energy in face threatening spontaneous reactions for the „natural cause” sake, take a step back and approach it in a more strategic way as any other PR tactic in terms of (public) face management.

Just Around The Corner: Mobile Reputation Management

Just when communication and marketing experts thought they can take a relaxing breath, having reached some form of calculating ROI and measurement of their social media activities, mobile channels and technologies start posing new fresh challenges in the online landscape. From QR codes, SMS, mobile advertising, search, and optimized emails to mobile commerce, coupons, MMS, location-based services, and Bluetooth, companies are desperately seeking for generating sales from their mobile presence.

Not having a mobile strategy is like giving up on future. While a consistent number of companies already started integrating mobile into broader marketing campaigns, integration is yet quite basic (Econsultancy, 2013). Considering the fact that more people are reading emails on a mobile device than on desktop devices, it is actually quite obvious that consumer expectations are starting to change as well. Simple, to the point, no extra layers of useless information, just personalized and relevant content going straight to the consumer. No wonder Facebook chose to buy WhatsApp!

Mobile strategy implies efforts from all departments: management, marketing, communications, design, development and legal. The main goal for mobile programs is brand engagement, loyalty and the need to stay competitive. So far. But please NOTE: mobile users do not tolerate problems (like bugs) on mobile. A problematic mobile app, for example, will be abandoned by users after only one or two failed attempts. Furthermore, dissatisfied users are driven to competitive apps and will spread unfavourable reviews in person and online. My question is this: What does the future hold for mobile reputation management?

A snapshot of ELT

kolb_learning_cycle

Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) has a long history and provides a pertinent model of the learning process and a multilinear model of adult development, both of which are consistent with what we know about how people learn, grow, and develop. The spiral of learning from experience described in experiential learning theory (Kolb, 1984) can help learners (e.g. employees) “learn how to learn”. By consciously following a recursive cycle of experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting, they can increase their learning power.

Following “the learning way” begins with embracing the idea that “I am a learner” and continues with the development of sophisticated strategies for intentional learning based on their unique talents and the different learning challenges they face (Kolb and Kolb, 2009, p. 297).

The theory is called “Experiential Learning” to emphasize the central role that experience plays in the learning process, an emphasis that distinguishes ELT from other learning theories. The term “experiential” is used therefore to differentiate ELT both from cognitive learning theories, which tend to emphasize cognition over affect, and behavioral learning theories that deny any role for subjective experience in the learning process. Experiential learning theory defines learning as „the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming experience” (Kolb 1984, p. 41).

The ELT model portrays two dialectically related modes of grasping experience – Concrete Experience (CE) and Abstract Conceptualization (AC) and two dialectically related modes of transforming experience – Reflective Observation (RO) and Active Experimentation (AE) (Mainemelis, Boyatzis and Kolb, 2002, p. 5).

In grasping experience, some of us perceive new information through experiencing the concrete, tangible, felt qualities of the world, relying on our senses and immersing ourselves in concrete reality. Others tend to perceive, grasp, or take hold of new information through symbolic representation or abstract conceptualization – thinking about, analyzing, or systematically planning, rather than using sensation as a guide. Similarly, in transforming or processing experience some of us tend to carefully watch others who are involved in the experience and reflect on what happens, while others choose to jump right in and start doing things. The watchers favor reflective observation, while the doers favor active experimentation.

What Does SEO Really Look Like?

The priority of understanding SEO has become an unbearable truth for all companies. Either we`re referring to online reputation, keyword competition and incoming revenues from online activities, it`s all being built around SEO objectives and metrics. SEO analysis has started becoming more and more complicated along with the constant growth in keyword volume that organizations are managing.

Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird – all if these Google updates do nothing more than increase the ambiguity of the long lasting question which revolves around SEO: How do I get MY public to see MY website, MY social channel, MY sponsored reviews when they search for MY organization? Digital opportunities are mostly leveraged through either Search Engine Marketing or Email Marketing – the most effective tools for building up revenue. But how sophisticated does the SEO strategy need to be with all the competitors out there developing content strategies, where the guiding principle is velocity and volume? How can organizations internalize into their integrated communications programs all the potential keywords, mismatches and relevant key phrases to add up to the final SEO objectives?

While search engines are taking advantage of USG (User Generated Content), staggering up content from social media in order to propel them to impressive Page Ranks, organizations are turning their focus on gathering as much social space as possible. It`s true that the rising tide of interest is directed to social content which is shared and distributed through social channels, but the question still remains – is it enough to start building a social media presence for SEO purposes and leave out the true opportunities and endorsements this sort of strategy would imply? Is it relevant to start becoming obsessed by traffic, impressions, clicks and large volumes of back-links when they truly mean nothing when compared to a long-lasting relationship with publics? In my view, the painstaking question of today`s digital media should be: What are the true measures for efficiency and success when it comes to online visibility?

Exploring the digital intelligence

Some decades ago (1983), Gardner initiated his theory about multiple intelligences, giving start to a persistent academic debate about types of intelligence, distinction from other concepts and instruments of development (with large echoes in pedagogy). However, even different schools of research took different paths (studying exclusively a certain type of intelligence, or trying to build frames of measurement), there is still room to find new paths or even develop new types of intelligence.

These new paths come not only from the large definition that Gardner proposed to intelligence, but from the linkage to content he performed when circumscribing the sphere of the concept: „Second, my intelligences are specifically linked to content. I claim that human beings have particular intelligences because of informational contents that exist in the world—numerical information, spatial information, information about other people.” (2011, p. xl).

Thus, if each type of intelligence is linked to content, then the first major change in types of information we should address, when trying to identify the changes occurred in the XXI century should be related to the „digital divide”. In our days, individuals receive and process information in a digital form, and their capacity to generate value products for community is essentially related to their capacity to use digital devices, to search, select and use digital information, to interpret social signals and interact with other beings via computer or smartphone.

Although the impact of the digital divide has been studied by some scholars (Deursen and van Dijk, 2010), a small number of studies explicitly inquired about the digital intelligence as a concept. But the omnipresence of digital content in studying or processing information, or  the impact of the online information and presence to the real life do oblige people to form abilities in managing digital contents. These are supplementary reasons for studying the digital intelligence as a definite type of intelligence that is different from individual to individual (in the spirit of Gardner definition), and is distinctly developed in generations (more developed in the so-called „Net Generation” than in previous ones).