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Good examples of mindmapping in teaching?

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Gráinne Conole
3 September 2009

Below is a list of mind and concept mapping tools.

  • Has anyone got any other suggestions and how they have used the tool?
  • What are the pros and cons of each?

Extra content

Simon Smith has produced a range of excellent mindmaps as part of the Spanish En Rumbo course. For example this one. You can see the others in the En Rumbo cloudscape.

Gráinne Conole
12:30 on 7 September 2009

It seems to me mindmaps, like the ones Simon Smith has produced have a number of uses:

  • For the author as a learning tool and revision aid
  • For the other students on the course
  • For others interested in knowing about the topic (in this case spanish)
  • For teachers to use as an Open Educational Resource in their teaching
  • For teachers as an exemplar of how to use mindmapping for a particular purpose (in this case teaching spanish)

Gráinne Conole
12:33 on 7 September 2009

Some useful tools on this site:

merv stapleton
09:31 on 8 September 2009

We have been using both CompendiumLD and Cmap.

  • CompendiumLD is using for describing micro-level designs, i.e. those at the level of a learning activity (which could be any thing from an hour to a few hours of work typically). In particular we us a task swimline repersentation which shows for each of the roles of those involved in the activity (at a basic level this is likely to be 'learner' and 'teacher'), what they are doing (the sequences of tasks they are undertaking) and for each task any associated resources or tools.
  • We have also been using Cmap to describe meso-level designs, i.e. essentially blocks of learning activiites. These might be a terms worth of student activites for example. At the meso-level the designer is primarily concerned with checking that the learning outcomes are being met across the spread of learning activiites the students are doing and the assessments they are set.

Gráinne Conole
17:52 on 5 December 2009

Embedded Content


merv stapleton
12:39pm 3 September 2009

A colleague has used MindManager and developed maps with links to all the resources (MS Word Docs, PowerPoints, Spreadsheets, Websites Images etc.) that he needed for each lesson embedded within it. He referred to the maps as his "Lesson-launcher". the basis of each map was the lesson plan and allied learning objectives for that session.

Rebecca Galley
1:48pm 3 September 2009

That's interesting. Was he able to upload it to a VLE? I'm thinking about how useful a resource like that would be to students.

merv stapleton
2:29pm 3 September 2009

He chose not to...he found it easier to run it all from a memory stick.

Rebecca Galley
3:57pm 3 September 2009 (Edited 3:58pm 3 September 2009)

I've just come across Prezi - runs on flash. It is a presentation tool but unlike PowerPoint is built on a canvas as a mind map and then you link across to  concepts/ documents/ video etc so is potentially semi-runnable like in your example. I haven't had a chance to play with it properly but have got my 8 year old daughter to use it and it seems dead easy. There is a UTube 'How to' here

Irma Pianucci
9:25am 4 September 2009 (Edited 9:38am 4 September 2009)

I used cmap for a course where the students have some subjects reading and they had to make the map of each subject.

When they finished each map they upload to cmap server and it was there for the whole class. After that we discuss about the work made thru the forum.

This students where living in different cities and they expresed that was very usuful to see what other have done.

Giota Alevizou
11:45am 4 September 2009

I used Freemind in some of my classes as an interactive tool to invite postgrad students make connections between theoretical concepts/case studies. What irma did is great! I tried something similar through the VLE, students weren't too motivated though...

Most of them fed back saying that it was great for revisions/essays. Some used it as a personal literature organising/concept mapping tools but kept it v. private...  

I tried cmap and it seems quite intuitive in interlinking but got lost in the navigation threads...:( maybe need to play more. I am going to try MindManager more, because it seems great for linking to docs, biblos, sites etc...I recon it would work really work with research/project organizing and in combination with something like Prezi, could work wonders for research-led and social and representational teaching and learning ....;) I will go ahead and give both a thorough try!

Gráinne Conole
11:47am 4 September 2009

Hi Giota

I like freemind too and i like the way you can inport freemind into Mind42 which is good for doing collaborative mindmaps over the web.

Gráinne Conole
12:26pm 7 September 2009

I'm currently using Freemind to prepare for my Spanish oral exam. It's intersting to map out the topics and vocab this way rather than simply write as a linear text. We have been adviced NOT to just read out our presentations and I am going to see if insread I can use the mindmaps I create to act as an aid memoire.

Gráinne Conole
9:34am 8 September 2009

Brilliant! thanks for the link to exploratree Mary - hadn't come across that before, looks really intersting.

maarten de laat
12:09pm 9 September 2009

thanks for the list grainne. I saw you mentioned the brain. I think it is a great tool because of the dynamic network like presentation.

In our project on developing teacher networks for professinal develop in the Netherland. We are using the brain to visualise social networks based on content and skills people can offer to one another. So a teacher who is in need of some coaching can search in the brain if there is a network of teachers who are able to provide this. Currently we are building this brain amongst 4 primary school in a particular region and the teachers are very enthusiastic about it.

Here is video on how it works. I am sorry that it is dutch but the basics are easy to follow.,647/netwerkleren-het-netwerk-ontsluiten


Gráinne Conole
12:21pm 9 September 2009

Sounds really interesting Maartin, Will be interested to hear how you got on in your current study in due course.

Gráinne Conole
10:22am 10 September 2009 (Edited 10:22am 10 September 2009)

Just analysing some data from a recent Olnet workshop we ran and the following quote struck me in relation to mindmaps for design.


[There is potential for] "A semantic of visualisations...some of the connection are more related to cognitive activities of the design where as others are tactical activities of the use ...and some other connection are like database connections with the resources and what they are looking, so probably having different semantic of the connections and representations"

This is essentially what the cohere tool  is trying to do, would be interesting to explore more how cohere might be used to map learning designs.



maarten de laat
12:49pm 10 September 2009

we will , the summer holidas are over so we will be back in the schools soon. Basically are project is a way of creating a social mind(s)map of networks of teachers working together on various related topics. I created a cloud on networked learning for teache professional development with other tools we are currently developing.

jen harvey
9:56am 12 September 2009

This is all really useful. I've now got an extensive range of options from which my students can select ; ) Like Giota, I'm hoping to ask PG students to use a concept mapping tool to encourage them to visualise /link concepts underpinning their project within a wider context and then for them to map out the implementation and evaluation of their projects across a year incl. drivers/barriers, stakeholder involvement at different points.

I was hoping that they might present their concepts as part of the assessment of that module. We wre looking to move away from a tendency on other modules to use rather text orientated assessments.

I guess I'm slightly concerned that there might be a resultant perception that this is a bit of an easy option? Although I've been quite clear in specifiying what would be expected for this assessment...has anyone else 'assessed' concept maps rather than using them for more process orientated tasks?

Gráinne Conole
10:06am 12 September 2009

Sounds really interesting Jen - would be good to hear more from others about how they have used concept/mindmaps. Interesting your comment about it being perceived as an easy option, I think there is still a perception that anything other than a standard 3000 word essay is sub-standard. In actual fact really good use of visual tools like concepts maps takes alot of creativity and flair. Raises interesting issues about how you assessment them though....

jen harvey
2:03pm 12 September 2009

yes, when you are trying to acheive(assess) high PG level learning outcomes, it would be easy to slip back to strategies you might use with essays eg write personal commentary re concepts /associations, providing appropriate links to relevant refs, justifications for decisions etc - which is perhaps trying to slot a standard essay into a tool better designed to explore levels of conceptualisation...

Andrew Brasher
8:23am 8 October 2009 open source  mind mapping tool

Gráinne Conole
8:35pm 3 February 2010

Hi Vic

haven't come across Freeplane before - how is it different to FreeMind?

Gráinne Conole
8:49am 4 February 2010

Thanks Vic - must take a look when I have a mo, I certainly like FreeMind - very simple and intuitive to use. One of the things we are interested in is using such tools to provide visual representations of the design process. We have adapted Compendium to a tool called CompendiumLD and also been exploring CMap.

Paul Clark
9:44am 9 March 2010

I have been thinking for some time about the power of visual representations as part of the learning design process and as learning aids for students.  In this connexion it seems to me at present that tools such as CompendiumLD, MindManager and Cmaps play different and complementary  parts in this  activity.   I see an application such as Cmaps as setting out in visual terms the expected prior understanding, the intermediate concepts that must be mastered and the final set of concepts, the understanding of which form part of the completion of the process  of learning of a given unit (chapter, block, course,etc).  CompendiumLD provides a visual representation of the activity required to move from the understanding of one concept to the next (e.g., from an element of prior knowledge to an intermediate concept).  Given that most mindmapping tools work on the expansion of a single, central concept, I can see it playing an important role in collaborative design processses as developing an multi-faceted answer to the question "what do you mean by ...? directed at a concept set out in Cmaps.

Maria Tannant
10:31am 27 March 2011

Just to say thanks for your contributions, I can now go off and explore those mentioned. I also wondered if anyone has used CompendiumLD as a mindmapping tool. Potentially it has the ability to do this even though is was designed as a Learning Design tool

Rebecca Galley
9:20am 17 June 2011

Just added another interesting tool (via Tim Seal - thx Tim) called Balsamiq. Designed for teams to iterate on wireframes as early in the website development process as possible but ceratinly looks like it could be used in learning design proceses too. Anyone used it?

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