Concept Maps and Mind Maps

Concept and mind maps are tools for organising and representing knowledge


Concept maps – example outputs Sample outputs of the concept mapping tool CmapTools.

Why include concept and mind maps?

Using concept maps places central emphasis on the influence of learners’ prior knowledge. It allows learners to modify existing concepts and form new linkages. Some of the main uses of concept maps are:

  • to generate ideas (brainstorming, etc.)
  • to design a complex structure ( complicated texts, large web sites, etc.)
  • to communicate complex ideas
  • to aid learning by explicitly integrating new and old knowledge
  • to provide a framework for making internal knowledge explicit in a visual form that can easily be examined and shared
  • to assess understanding or diagnose misunderstanding.


The difference between concept maps and mind maps is that a mind map has only one main concept, while a concept map may have several. A mind map can be represented as a tree, while a concept map may need a network representation.

Integrating concept and mind maps

Design steps

  1. Select a theme and then identify related key words or phrases.
  2. Order the concepts (key words) from the most abstract to the most concrete and specific.
  3. Group concepts that function at similar level of abstraction and those that interrelate closely.
  4. Arrange concepts in to a diagrammatic representation.
  5. Link concepts with linking lines and label each line.


Concept and mind maps tend to be used more often for the initial stages in a learning sequence. However they may be used in an assessment situation where they can demonstrate a learner’s ability to describe the broad picture or understand complex inter-relationships.

Tech. notes

If you decide to use concept and mind maps in an online setting, you will need to have the technical skills to operate the mind mapping software over the Internet.


You will need to be able to draw out connections for learners and use appropriate questioning techniques.


IHMC Cmap Tools

The CmapTools program enables you to construct, navigate, share and criticize knowledge models represented as concept maps.

Visual Minds

The theory underliying concept maps and how to construct them