This page is my way of saying thanks to all those who helped me learn concept mapping and to all the developers of tools that I have used for concept mapping. It is a resource page with all that you need to know about concept mapping.
I was originally pulled into this by the popular mind mapping software Freemind and Tony Buzan’s book. From Gary Klein’s Working Minds, I understood the cognitive psychology foundations and the broader applicability. A while back I did a comparison between mind map and knowledge map as a presentation which will help you understand key differences between mind map and concept map.
What are concept maps?
Concept map is a way to model knowledge domains, and convey meaning to people within or outside the domain. Say when you make a concept map about fire fighting it has to be applicable to firefighters AND normal citizens. Usually applications are deeper when done with people within the domain.
Concept maps are great boundary objects, it maintains integrity of structure and meaning, and still plastic to people from different backgrounds. People will interpret a concept map based on their personal understanding and use it to communicate successfully.
Concept maps are also used for solving complex problems. Complexity of a domain is manifested in concept maps as number of node-link-node triads aka propositions and number of nodes. The more links on a concept map,
- the more comprehensive the model becomes, as against a mere listing of concepts, or a glossary
- the more fundamental concepts and assumptions surface in the map, making you question them usually
- more groups of concepts will become islands and not completely connected with the overall map that can be safely set aside
What tools are used for concept mapping?
I have used several tools including, standalone VUE which is very easy to use, chrome app Lucidchart that does not need any install, online apps like mindmeister a great way to jump from mind map to concept map and of course the classic IHMC cmap tools . I strongly recommend doing a few concept maps on paper or whiteboard and use it locally before getting on to online/software tools. In fact some of the best use for problem solving in my experience came from using concept mapping in whiteboards in workplaces. My concept map tool comparison example provides a basic framework for picking the right tool for you.
Where all can concept mapping be applied?
Concept maps are applied in teaching, problem solving, documentation, among others. Watch this page as it gets updated with interesting applications from various fields. Few of my example concept map applications are below
- communities of practice, this concept map was made to present how communities of practice can be established and how activities have to be designed strategically
- innovation tools, is a simple set of tools introduced from triz portfolio for application in any innovation context
- biometric authentication, is a broad set of concepts connected around services for the business process, and how a simple combination across top level concepts can help generate service offerings
- why do knowledge management in IT services, is a set of questions that will lead a typical internal customer to adopt knowledge management tools and methods across business, process, delivery, and learning