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5 Innovative Mind-Mapping Tools For Education

What do you do when you have an elaborate project, assignment, or paper that needs to be quickly organized? Do you fire up Microsoft Word and whip up an outline? Do you pull out a pen and paper and start sketching?

What if you could have the best of both options with a free online tool? It’s called ‘mind mapping’ (“Mind Map” is a trademark of the Buzan Organization.) and it’s basically a fun and intuitive way to visually organize your thoughts. Thanks to a recent article, I received an influx of mind-mapping web tools that I wanted to pass along to the Edudemic audience. Enjoy!

XMind

Definitely one of the easiest ways to embed a mind map into your blog or website. While I was able to easily whip up a mind map for a few topics, it took me awhile to get the embedding to display properly. A minor annoyance, it started working fine after a quick fix! Overall, XMind is worth trying out as it allows you to easily export to PDF format (great for making handouts).

The biggest feature to me is the ‘Pro’ feature which lets you record what an audience (or your classroom) says directly into the mind map as an .mp3. Great for sharing your ideas and then getting feedback you can listen to later on. A great idea for anyone who needs to present an idea to others but won’t have the ability to take written notes to record the feedback!

MindMeister

MindMeister is a powerful tool that is great for mind-mapping on the go. I tried it out for a few different projects and the mobile app really helped as I do most of my brainstorming when I’m away from a desktop or laptop. MindMeister keeps all your mind maps in the cloud for easy access. Because of this, it allows you to collaboratively build your mind map with others. I’m a big fan of that because this wouldn’t be possible if it were just a piece of software sitting on just your laptop.

The software is now at version 6.0 which brought on the ability to ‘theme’ your mind maps so they look all the snazzier. Great option for upcoming presentations where you have to appear to know what you’re doing :)

The killer tool is far and away the ability to collaborate, though. In my experience, it’s about as difficult to use as Google Docs. In other words, it’s quite easy and straightforward.

iMindMap

Sample From ThinkBuzan

iMindMap Basic is a free Mind Mapping software which will get you Mind Mapping quickly and easily. A simple tool to help you start thinking in a clear and creative way, iMindMap Basic uses a process that has been enhancing the way people think for decades. iMindMap Basic is completely free for life and is a great starter package for those who want to start exploring the uses of Mind Mapping for free.

Mind Mapping with iMindMap Basic is an excellent visual way of organising key ideas or concepts from lesson notes, textbooks, lectures or business meetings. Engage and stimulate your brain with iMindMap Basic, using this memory-boosting and time-reducing mode of note taking. Dramatically cut down your notes and capture keywords and points in an impressive visual snapshot.

iMindMap Basic is a great way to generate ideas and target challenges within your studies, career or personal life. Take your basic ideas and develop them in the free Mind Mapping software to motivate your thoughts and open up new concepts.

SpiderScribe.net

Click to enlarge!

This is a freemium site that basically lets you sign up for free and then upgrade to premium options if they fit your needs. I tried it out and found the interface quite intuitive and easy to understand right from the get-go. Best of all, it’s very easy to export your entire mind-map as a JPG or PNG. I’ve embedded a sample mind-map (view the demo here) to the right to give you an idea of how it looks once you’re done. Definitely worth checking out if you’re feeling like you need to organize your life! (I feel that way pretty much 24-7.)

SpiderScribe is a bit different, according to the development team that reached out to me. Here’s what they had to say:

Unlike other mind mapping tools, SpiderScribe allows the creation of free mformat maps, with elements connected in any ways. In addition to that, besides the traditional text, images and file stencils, it also supports web items like calendar events and map locations (through Google Maps). We also plan to extend the types of stencils supported.

Google Docs

While not the standard mind mapping software, Google Docs is a powerful and free tool that you already know how to use. In other words, the learning curve is basically zilch. You can use Google Docs to collaborate in real-time to create just about any document. During grad school, I used Google Docs with about a dozen classmates to create an outline for a long (way too long) paper and presentation. The outline we ended up with was so robust that we were able to quickly copy and paste portions right into the final paper. That’s not as easy to do with a few other mind mapping tools.

The killer feature for using Google Docs to create mind maps is the ease of use. From sharing with others to figuring out how to use it, the powerful Google software can let you spend your time getting your thoughts down rather than trying to figure out how a new piece of technology works. What could be better than that?

Other Mind Mapping Tools

There are plenty of other mind mapping tools out there! Try out Mindjet, Mindomo, CollateBox, CanvasDropr and MatchWare.

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