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Concept Mapping and Brainstorming: Home

Concept mapping is a technique for articulating, organizing, and communicating knowledge.

Getting Started

"Concept mapping is a technique that provides a more complete understanding of relationships among ideas, concepts, and even business operations. As Jonassen et al. (1993) note, the traditional approach to concept mapping involves linking related ideas unidirectionally and expanding the number of ideas while brainstorming or investigating complex clusters of interrelated ideas." - Dennis, R., & DENNIS. (2010). Concept mapping. In A. Pizam (Ed.), International encyclopedia of hospitality management (2nd ed.). London, UK: Routledge.

Four Rules of Brainstorming

1. Generate a lot of ideas

2. Avoid criticising any of the ideas

3. Attempt to combine and improve on previously articulated ideas

4. Encourage the generation of ‘wild’ ideas

Brainstorming. (2011). In H. Thota, & Z. Munir, Palgrave Key concepts: Key concepts in innovation. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan Publishers Ltd.


Concept Map or Mind Map?

What's the difference between a Concept Map and a Mind Map?

Concept Map

A way of representing knowledge in the form of a diagram, with link indicating the relationships between concepts. The main concept is often at the top of the map and the other concepts are related hierarchically down from the main concept.

Mind Map

A diagram with nodes representing the main points of a topic (concept), with the links between them and any other relevant information also shown. The main concept is at the center of the map and the other concepts radiate outward from the center. There is less emphasis on defining the relationships between concepts in a mind map.

-- both in the Dictionary of information and library management (2006, 2nd ed.). London, UK: A&C Black.

Brainstorming Tips

Ask questions. Ask lots of questions. You can ask about how something works, who is involved, what something entails, why something is important and so on. When you ask questions, you stimulate someone to generate an answer. This answer may not be something that that person has consciously thought about before and may lead to further insights or more questions. This is literally the time when there are no 'stupid' questions.

Clarify your understanding. The why questions are very important in this process. The more you understand about the topic of the brainstorm the more you can ask about it. By asking "Why" for example: Why is it done that way? Why is that person in charge of the process? Why are these its components? You can gain an understanding of the constraints and motivations that existing within that topic.

Put yourself in multiple roles or perspectives. When you are asking questions, put yourself in a different role. What would a person in that role say? How would they feel about this? How would they view the problem?

Use a white board or large piece of paper to write everything down. Making lists and drawing pictures or diagrams are the main outcomes of a brainstorming session. The goal is to get all of the ideas out of our heads and into some tangible form. Once you have listed or drawn out the ideas then you can begin to combine and see relations between things.


How to Create a Concept Map

How to Make a Concept Map

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Joan Jocson-Singh

Concept Mapping Tools

Concept or Mind Mapping tools are often software that allow the designer to add shapes and lines representing concepts and their relations.

Several useful, free tools are: 

Lucid Chart: a visual workspace that combines diagramming, data visualization, and collaboration to accelerate understanding and drive innovation. 

CMap: Cmap software is a result of research conducted at the Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC). It empowers users to construct, navigate, share and criticize knowledge models represented as concept maps.

Ayoa Mind Map ideas, create Kanban-style boards, plan agile projects & practice Design Thinking. Manage your ideas, tasks and to-do lists – all in one app.

FreeMind: a premier free mind mapping software written in Java. 

XMind a full-featured mind mapping and brainstorming tool, designed to generate ideas, inspire creativity, brings you efficiency both in work and life. Tens of million people love it.

Henderson, H. (2017). mind-mapping software. In H. Henderson, Facts on File science library: Encyclopedia of computer science and technology (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Facts On File.