Simply put, mind maps are diagrams used to visually organize information. There are as many variations on mind maps as there are brains and topics. Stickies on larger pages, beautifully drawn and colored diagrams and everything in between have been around for a long time. Sometime in the 1970’s, British psychologist Tony Buzan claimed and named the process “Mind Maps.” A quick (if dry) intro to mind maps can be on this Youtube video. If you want a little more pizazz and don’t mind the ads for his own imindmap product (too expensive for us), watch Tony Buzan himself tell you how it is done.
Mind Map Apps
Physical mind maps are great. The 8th grade started off their History Day research projects by creating mind maps to help them explore ways to approach their broad topics. It was fun to watch them, but at the end of the class it was clear that a different solution was needed for groups who needed to share access to their mind maps. Luckily for us, there are plenty of applications offering affordable solutions that integrate smoothly with our Google platform.
For integrated Drive use you will need to download the individual app(s). You can do this from within Drive by clicking on the red NEW button, and selecting “+Connect more apps” and then searching for the app. The screenshot below shows my Drive options AFTER I have added the the apps.
Here are a few to explore:
Lucidchart provides a very robust diagramming program free access to teachers and students. Unlike the two free options below, your account is not a very limited “free” account. Lucidchart is a very powerful tool used by companies worldwide, but still fairly easy to use. You can create mind maps, venn diagrams, flow charts and anything else you can consider rendering online. You can watch an overview of making mind maps in Lucidchart.
Mindomo also provides a free product to teachers, but the free account has many more limitations and it felt like every time I wanted to do something cool (export the file to share on this site), I was prompted to sign up for the premium version. If you are doing a quick project working with a single student or group, this would still work fine. However, if you want to have students working on their own projects, Lucidchart is probably a better choice. Curious? You can check out my Mindomo mind map of the Research Skills curriculum plan.
Mindmup (narrowly avoiding a lawsuit with that name) is another option for creating quick, free mind maps. It is definitely a little clunkier in feel, and you really need to memorize the keyboard shortcuts to work at all speedily. However, its simplicity also means that it is very straightforward and easy for kids to figure out how to use. Your MindMup will save in your Google Drive account, which makes it possible to share it with others on our Google platform. Take a peek at the mind map we made with 5th grade on a day when I couldn’t erase the whiteboard…
Both Mike and I are happy to help you with the Google integration or the programs themselves. If you are using mind maps or would like to collaborate, please let me know!