Concept Mapping

If you're looking for tools to help visualize a particular domain or process, to display relationships or to just get your head around a complex system, Concept Maps or CMap tools can help.  First developed in the 1960s, CMaps allow you to create knowledge models or representations in a visual manner, typically using nodes and links.

You may find CMaps useful for mapping out complex or simple subject domains, describing the links between major thinkers or principles in a field, diagramming interrelationships, communicating complex ideas or brain storming.  By making relationships explicit Cmaps encourage deep understanding of the material or topic.

CMAPs differ from flow charts in their ability to map concepts in a non-hierarchical manner.  Relationships can be build from one side of the map to the other.  Furthermore,  CMaps often illustrate propositional relationships among concepts. 

IHMC's CMAP, Freemind and XMind are three popular desktop applications for creating concept maps. All are free for educational use (see below).  Microsoft Visio 2010 (available in the SILS Computer Lab) is another useful tool.

1.  IHMC's Cmap Tools: This application is a rather large download but is very full-featured.

2.  Freemind:  Freemind is a small application with a more polished graphical presentation.

3. XMind:  A free download allows to you create mind maps and share them online.

One additional concept mapping tools can be used through you web browser:

The following resources contain good examples of how people have utilized Concept Maps in different domains:

1. The Chinese University of Hong Kong

2. Edmondson, K. M. (1994). “Concept maps and the development of cases for problem-based learning.” Academic Medicine 69(2): 108-110.  Concept maps are used at the Cornell University (New York) college of veterinary medicine for curriculum planning, particularly development of problem-based cases for classroom use. The maps help prioritize concepts, refine objectives and details, articulate links between aspects of a case, and support overall course design. (MSE)