“I Wonder How I Managed Beforehand”

“As a student going into a master’s qualification, memories of my time spent studying for my degree came flooding back. Although it had been 10 years since I completed my social work degree, I knew the hurdles I experienced as a result of having dyslexia would be there again ready for me to navigate. Academic studies don’t come easy to me and returning to education was not a decision I took lightly. My masters would allow me to study an area of research that I was extremely passionate and excited about, which presented my first problem. My brain was racing with ideas and topics, which quite often I find it difficult to structure and organise, not only in my head but on paper.

A friend recommended ideamapper after explaining my struggles with referencing. She explained, not only would ideamapper help me with referencing but would also keep an ongoing record and create a bibliography. This is initially why I purchased ideamapper, but I was surprised at how the other tools help me in my studies.

Like many people with dyslexia I memorise and learn visually. I have been a lifelong mind mapper using pen and paper, creating colourful maps with notes, drawings, prompts and ideas. I clung on to this way of mind mapping for many years, so the thought of changing from paper to electronic was a little out of my comfort zone, but I decided to try it with my first assignment.

Feedback from the previous assignment was I would go off-topic frequently and repeat myself, which related to my dyslexia. My brain can jump from topic to topic as I’m writing and I find it hard to focus on a subject, this can result in me typing fast and not completing my work to the best standard.

Using ideamapper, I was able to dump all of my thoughts in one action, then organise them to suit my creative style. The split-screen view was extremely useful and I was amazed at how easy it was to move entire paragraphs of text by manipulating my map ideas. I had applied ideas to each topic, which helped me see all my information in each chapter, giving me confidence in my own writing.

The standout tool for me was the referencing tool and I now wonder how I managed beforehand. Fellow students seemed to be able to look at an article or book and reference it in seconds, but I struggled no matter what coaching I had, I do believe this was a lack of confidence in my own ability. Keeping on top of where I found my information was also difficult and I had been marked down in the past for missing out references. The anxiety I had experienced because of referencing in the past was immense and to have this removed was liberating.

My first assignment came and went, and I used ideamapper in each of my module assignments successfully. In fact referencing faded into the background on my list of concerns. I felt a lot calmer going into my 15,000-word dissertation as I was able to use ideamapper confidently by then. It not only helped me plan out my research but helped me structure, write and reference my final written dissertation. Having dyslexia has affected my confidence in my abilities, particularly within education. Finding a tool such as ideamapper at 42 years old has improved my confidence and has been the difference between gaining a 2-2 at degree level and gaining a First at masters level.”

Big thanks to Joanne Youngson from The SID Project for sharing her experiences using ideamapper during her studies.

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