As learning tools, concept maps were first introduced by Novak and his colleagues in Cornell University in the 70s of last century. Concept maps are based on Asubel’s theory of meaningful learning which states that “learning is meaningful when the student comprehends the relationship of what is being learned to other knowledge”(KILIÇ and ÇAKMAK, 2013, p. 154). In other words, meaningful learning “results when a person consciously and explicitly ties new knowledge to relevant concepts they already possess” (Stoica, Moraru, and Miron, 2010, p. 568).
Some key pillars of meaningful learning include prior knowledge, interaction, and collaboration all of which are supported by concept mapping. However, a detailed discussion of the literature and theoretical base of concept maps is beyond the scope of this short post. To learn more about concept maps, their underlying theory and their uses in education, check out the reference list at the bottom of this post.
Here is a quick overview of some of the benefits and ways to use concept maps with your students. I pulled these ideas from the references below:
Highlight the similarities and/or differences between concepts.Display the sub-components of a concept.Showcase the procedural steps involved in the development of a concept, event…etc.Brainstorm ideas on a particular topic.Formatively assess students knowledge during the learning process.Use concept maps in summative assessments at the end of a lesson or course unit.
Here is a collection of some useful tools you can use with your students to create and share concept maps:
is an online concept mapping software that allows you to capture and share ideas visually. You can create various subtopics and add context to your topics using things such as links, attachments, embeds, images, and integrations.
MindMeister supports real time collaboration enabling you to work with your team on collaborative projects. Once your concept maps are ready, you can share them in PDF or PNG format. MindMeister is available on the web as well as on Android and iOS operated devices.
is another powerful concept mapping software that supports real-time collaboration. You can start your concept map using a pre-made template, customize it the way you want. You can visual relations between topics, add subtopics, and organize information visually.
Some of the main features provided by Miro include built-in video chat and comments, presentation mode to illustrate concepts to your team members, add colorful sticky notes and emojis to your maps, add other content to the same board (e.g., documents, concept maps, images, etc), supports third party integration (e.g., with Google Drive, Sketch, Jira, and more). Miro is available on the web and as a mobile app for both Android and iOS devices.
Image credit: miro.com
is a good concept mapping tool that provides you with an intuitive canvas where you visually explain and communicate your ideas and concepts. Start with a pre-made concept map template (e.g., a roadmap, a decision tree, 2×2 matrix, etc), and add your own ideas. Insert sticky notes and shapes, freehand drawing, add text, establish connections between different nodes, and more.
You can invite your collaborators and work on the same canvas, exchange ideas and feedback, group insights by themes and trends, split up into smaller groups to work on Breakout Boards and present the final work to the whole group. Lucidspark supports integration with thrid party apps such as MS Teams, Slack, Google Drive, among others.
allows you visually capture and share ideas with others. You can create unlimited number of mind maps and save them to the cloud for unlimited access anywhere anytime and from any device. You can make your maps content rich by adding elements such as text, videos, spreadsheets, images, icons, illustrations, and more.
MinMup supports concurrent editing for teams and classrooms allowing to quick view edits made your collaborators. You can share your mind maps as PDF, PowerPoint, save them to Google Drive, or share them online.
Mindomo allows you to create various collaborative mind maps, concept maps, outlines, and Gantt charts. Mindomo supports real-time collaboration, cloud storage, and integrations with third party apps. Mindomo offers a huge library of customizable mind maps templates to start with or you can start with a blank canvas and build your concept map from scratch.
You can import files from your computer (e.g., TXT, XLS, OPML) and turn them into concept maps. You can also import maps from other mind mapping tools such as MindMeister and work on them right in your Mindomo canvas. You maps can include things such as notes, links, icons, images, video and audio files, and many more. You generated concept maps can be downloaded in different formats including PDF, DOCX, PPTX, ZIP, among others.
is another powerful concept and mind mapping software to try out. Coggle offers a wide range of collaborative features including: real-time collaboration, the ability to add floating text and images to your maps, drag and drop images from your desktop right into your canvas, keep track of changes and easily revert to previous edits, create loops and join branches, access pre-made templates, enable team members to edit your maps by simply sharing a unique link with them without them having to log in, and many more.
Bubbl.us is a concept mapping tool that helps you organize and share your ideas visually. Among the features it offers are: real-time collaboration, full-scree presenration mode, browser-based and also works on mobile devices, various sharing options (e.g., JPG, PNG, print, among others), create and manage teams with several users, and many more.
8. Google Drawings
Google Drawings is another good concept mapping tool to consider. While it does not offer the sophisticated features provided by the previous concept mapping tools, it t is still a great option for us in education. You can use it to create and edit your concept map the way you want.
You can add various shapes, callouts, and arrows. Insert text and images, add links, and several other media elements. You can share your generated concept maps in different formats, in PDF, PNG, or publish them online. You can also easily insert your concepts into your Google Docs or Slides.