Map the topic

Suggested time: 90 min.

Build your field of knowledge and define the limits of your topic.

A topic is a collection of interrelating concepts. When you map the topic, you build your understanding of what you know about the concepts you are exploring.

You can return to the topic map often to review, rearrange and update what you all know. The map will be a launchpad for further exploring the topic and the themes you decide on.

Here is what you'll need

Sticky notes

A lot of them!

A timer for the class

Any kind of timer will do. Better if it’s visible.

Markers, texters or pens

One per person

Large sheets of paper

(A3/A2 or similar) or plenty of writable wall space.

Follow these steps


Step 1: Prepare for the topic

As a class or with your team, prepare for the topic you will explore by viewing a few relevant videos or images. Discuss some related ideas within the topic. Designers can share a little of their background knowledge.


Step 2: Find out what the team knows

Divide into teams and set the class timer for five minutes. Think of one fact, issue, problem or piece of information from your topic and write it on a post-it.

Write another on a post-it. And another. Keep going and flowing!

When the timer goes, read all of your team’s ideas.


Step 3: Find relationships

Set the class timer for another five minutes.

Place your post-it notes on the wall or a large sheet of paper.

Find two post-its that you think are related and bring them close together. Now connect other post-its.


Step 4: Discuss themes

Discuss each connection or change you make. You can connect post-it as chains, trees, star formations or blobs! Think of your separate collections as 'themes'.


Step 5: Build a class map

As a class, combine your collections of post-its into a class map. Discuss and decide on the main themes. You will now have a visual map of the topic to explore and a shared language to build on.

Return to the topic map consistently to update what you know and organise deeper research.

Talk it out with your fellow designers