Years ago I was a contributing author to What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media. The section that I co-authored was all about mind mapping. Eight years later the concepts that we wrote about are still solid, but the tools have changed (mostly for the better).
Creating a mind map is an excellent way to generate and write down ideas connected to a central topic. I frequently use mind maps to generate ideas for blog posts and for workshop topics. Students can use them to generate ideas for creative writing, to plan presentations, and to record all of the factors contributing to a central event. Flowcharts help students see how a process works from start to finish.
Twelve Good Tools for Making Mind Maps & Flowcharts
Transno is a service that lets you write notes and outlines that can then be turned into mind maps and flowcharts with just one click. It reminds me a lot of the original Text2MindMap service that I used to use. Transno is better because it offers a variety of mind map and flowchart styles while Text2MindMap only offered one. Transno also supports collaboration by letting you invite others to edit and add to your notes. In this video I demonstrate how Transno works.
Canvas (https://canvas.apps.chrome/) is a handy drawing tool from Google. Canvas is a great alternative to Google Drawings for iPad and Android tablet users. Canvas lets anyone create a drawing in his or her web browser by simply going to Canvas.apps.chrome. Once there you can start drawing on a blank canvas. There are four drawing tools that you can use to draw in a wide array of colors. Watch my video to see Canvas in action.
If your students have a computer in front of them, they probably have access to either Google Slides or PowerPoint or both. Google Slides and PowerPoint have built-in tools that students can use to create flowcharts. This video demonstrates how students can use Google Slides to create flowcharts. This video demonstrates how to use PowerPoint to create flowcharts. As you’ll see in the videos, you can make the flowcharts interactive through the use of linking in PowerPoint and Google Slides.
Bubbl.us is a mind mapping and flowchart tool that I’ve been recommending for more than a decade. It has evolved overtime to keep up with the needs of students, teachers, and other users. Creating mind maps on Bubbl.us is an easy process of simply clicking on the center of your screen then entering the central topic of your mind map. The next step is to add “child” topics or bubbles that are connected to the central topic. Those are added by clicking the “+” that appears while holding your cursor over an existing bubble.
Padlet offers templates for creating flowcharts and know, want, learn charts. Unfortunately, you can only make three Padlet walls before you have to either delete one to make a new one or upgrade to a paid plan. The upside to using Padlet is that it’s designed for collaboration. Here’s my video on how to use Padlet to create flowcharts and mind maps.
Text2MindMap was a commercial project for a few years before going out of business then coming back as an open-source project supported by Tobias Løfgren. The way that it works is that you type a linear outline and Text2MindMap will automatically generate a corresponding mind map. To use it simply go to https://tobloef.com/text2mindmap/ then clear the existing text and replace it with your own text. Every line that you type in your outline becomes a node in the mind map. You can create a branch from a node by simply indenting a line in your outline.
The Post-it mobile apps for Android and iOS let you take a picture of physical sticky notes and then sort them on a digital canvas. This a great option for those who prefer to do their mind mapping and chart creation on paper but still need a way to digitize their work. Get the apps here.
MindMup is a free mind mapping tool that can be used online, with Google Drive, and on your desktop. MindMup works like most mind mapping tools in that you can create a central idea and add child and sibling nodes all over a blank canvas. MindMup nodes can contain text and links. When you’re ready to save your MindMup mind map you can save it to Google Drive, save it to your desktop, or publish it online. If you publish it online, you can grab an embed code for it to post it in a blog post or webpage.
Coggle is a collaborative mind-mapping service that is very easy to use. To create a Coggle mind map just sign-in with your Google account and click the “+” icon to start your mind map. After entering the main idea of your mind map you can add branches by clicking the “+” icons that appear next to everything you type. To re-arrange elements just click on them and drag them around your screen. You can invite others to view and edit your mind maps.
Google Drawings and Google Jamboard be used to create mind maps and flowcharts. Drawings has more features than Jamboard. The upside of Jamboard is that it’s probably a more intuitive tool for new users. Here’s my video about using Google Drawings to create a mind map. Here’s my video on using Jamboard.
Spider Scribe is an online mind map creation service. Spider Scribe can be used individually or be used collaboratively. What jumps out about Spider Scribe is that users can add images, maps, calendars, text notes, and uploaded text files to their mind maps. Users can connect the elements on their mind maps or let them each stand on their own. You can embed your interactive SpiderScribe mind map into your blog or website.
Through Tuesday you can get eight of my Practical Ed Tech webinars in one bundle at more than 50% off. Or save 20% on any individual webinar.