Concept Maps

Thinking Tools

Concept maps are sometimes referred to as mind maps. While similar there are differences. Both are diagrams that visually depict ideas, relationships, and understanding, however, mind maps are usually restricted to radial hierarchies and tree structures. A mind map reflects what you think about a single topic, which can focus group brainstorming. A concept map can be a map, a system view, of a real (abstract) system or set of concepts. Concept maps are more free form, as multiple hubs and clusters can be created, unlike mind maps, which typically emerge from a single center. Concept maps that include connecting terms provide an opportunity for seeing connections to understand the why or how concepts are connected. Flow charts and organizational charts are related, but are linear and based on facts or constraints. Mind maps and concept maps are used to look at relationships, associations, or linkages to other concepts. A mind map could be used for brainstorming (the latter may not have need for connections). Making Meaning Maps add complexity but makes thinking even more visible. A useful e-tool for brainstorming is Lino - for sharing sticky note ideas and photos without a connective terms or specific tree structure linkages.

Online Tools for Concept Maps , Mind Maps, and Flow Charts

Many browser-based concept map tools (some have mobile versions as well) offer "real-time collaboration" for group editing and some allow for the addition of connective terms. Some tools allow linking terms between concepts. These tools are useful for educators seeking to understand or assess student concepts on the "how or the why" connection to evaluate possible misconceptions. Before you begin consider reviewing how to create a concept maps. These are some useful links:

6 ways to use concept mapping in your research by Benita Oliver

Concept Mapping by Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Concept Mapping Handout by Kwantlen Polytechnic University

You will most likely find video tutorials on each e-tools listed below on either their home page or on YouTube. Be sure to click the "Pricing" link on each site and do a "free account" sign-up.

  • Cacoo (allows collaboration - best for mind map and flow charts

  • (collaborative)

  • (allows collaboration and connecting terms)

  • Lucidchart (allows collaboration and connecting terms)

  • Mindmeister (allows collaboration and connecting terms)

  • Mindomo (allows collaboration and connecting terms)

  • Mindmup (allows collaboration and connecting terms)

  • Popplet (collaborative, best on mobile device)

  • Prezi (allows collaboration and connecting terms)

  • Xmind (easy sharing, no collaboration)

Dedicated apps for mobile device may be found in the appropriate app store.