How to Make a Concept Map
The concept map is a graphical tool with a strong visual impact that represents a network of logical connections between concepts. Each node of the map represents a concept described by a text label. The concept map is characterized by being structured in a rational and hierarchical manner, with nodes usually branching out from top to bottom, connected by directed arrows like the branches of an inverted tree.
By observing a concept map constructed in the right way, it should be possible to reconstruct the development of a real reasoning, starting from the root with the most central information and reaching the leaves containing the most specific concepts.
A concept map will always be a synthetic representation of a more complex reasoning or written text. Therefore, in order for the map to be effectively useful, it is necessary to follow some general guidelines. To create a concept map, it is important to respect the hierarchical structure, so it is necessary to identify the main topic and subsequently the subtopics that are connected to the main concept.
Once the main concepts have been identified, you can proceed to represent them graphically in the form of nodes containing text in keywords. Finally, it is important that the map is not just a set of interconnected concepts, the relationships between conceptual nodes must be explained. One way to give meaning to the relationships between concepts is to insert verbs or connectors as labels on the directed arrows.
To delve into the topic, take a look at our guide on how to create an effective concept map.
Concept map on Agenda 2030 created with Algor Education
Creating a concept map is an innovative method to rework, graphically represent, and transmit to others the relationships between concepts, making the best use of the visual channel. Concept maps are very useful to everyone in different contexts and fields because they:
- Help to visualize information according to one's verbal or visual strategy;
- Allow a greater understanding of the original text;
- Explain inferences and rational connections between different concepts;
- Facilitate the formulation of concepts and help with memorization;
- Allow the retrieval of information for oral presentation with other individuals.
The traditional concept map, theorized by the American academic Joseph Novak in the 1970s, is the most well-known and used type of map for studying and learning. Over the years, with the spread of new study methods and the advent of digital technology, new types of maps have been introduced: mind maps and multimedia maps. Different in appearance, attitude, and purpose of use, let's try to understand their distinctive elements together.
Mind maps have a more recent history, they were born in 1996 from the studies of the English cognitive scientist Tony Buzan. Mind maps differ from concept maps in appearance, construction methods, and purpose of use. They are a graphic representation of associative thinking, designed to enhance visual memory, and have the following distinctive characteristics:
- They have a radial shape with a single main concept or keyword placed in the center;
- They are more focused on the creative aspect and intuition in a strictly personal way;
- They have branches arranged in a hierarchical structure and associations that mimic mental connections;
- They contain branches that connect different points of the map with little text expressed in a very concise manner;
- They are characterized by the use of different colors from the beginning and fanciful illustrations.
To create a mind map, you proceed by associations. The elements of the map are dynamically inserted without a clear distinction between the moment of identifying the key concepts and the moment of their combination, as is the case with concept maps.
You can find more information on the difference between concept maps and mind maps at this link.
The evolution of concept maps and mind maps are multimedia maps, which are built online or with dedicated web applications and software, allowing the insertion of interactive resources such as images, videos, audios, and links to web pages.
The advantages of these maps are definitely their flexibility and transversality, as they make it possible to access educational material quickly and directly, and they can be used for any subject, from humanities to sciences, including foreign languages. Furthermore, multimedia maps built with the help of a PC or tablet offer the clear advantage of being able to write and erase more flexibly and quickly.
Example of a concept map created from a digital book on Algor Education.
Multimedia maps are increasingly used in schools, both by students and teachers for educational purposes. The benefits for students include the ability to organize, rework, and retrieve much more information by exploiting visual and auditory channels with images, audios, videos, and other online resources.
In addition, there is the advantage of being able to quickly access links to other resources in the same place. In this case, the map can be an excellent means of finding the most effective study method and can support the oral presentation of learned concepts.
For the teacher, the map can be a tool to be used in the classroom to present topics of study in an innovative and unconventional way, distributing pre-filled models for students to complete and using the support of interactive multimedia whiteboards (LIM).
Over 300,000 Italian students attending primary and secondary schools have a diagnosis of Specific Learning Disorders: dyslexia, dysorthography, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. Students with learning disabilities or Special Educational Needs (SEN) struggle to read and reread long texts to understand and learn them, so they need to find unconventional study methods.
Although each learning disability uses different cognitive strategies to learn best based on the type and severity of the disorder, in many cases, concept maps, mind maps, and more generally, multimedia maps are recognized by experts as a compensatory tool that is of great help. In particular, building concept maps from digital textbooks helps compensate for the difficulty in grasping information in sequence, the effort in finding keywords, and the connection between different concepts or the difficulty in using short-term memory.
For students with learning disabilities, the identification of textual cues (headings, highlighted words, illustrations, captions), the hierarchical structure of concepts, the use of minimal text, and the use of non-textual elements such as illustrations, images, videos, and audio are essential. Additionally, the use of text-to-speech synthesis is very helpful for "listening to the map," saving the effort and time spent on reading, especially for dyslexic students.
You can learn more about the elements of concept maps that are most suitable for students with learning disabilities in the dedicated article.
Digital technology is transforming traditional approaches to education. Multimedia maps allow for the application of innovative teaching methods that aim for the real inclusion of all students in a context of participation and collaboration.
It is called inclusive education and its purpose is to value and celebrate all differences among students (learning disabilities, special educational needs, autism, language, disabilities) by seeing them not as obstacles but as resources. To this end, multimedia maps allow for the implementation of new strategies such as "cooperative learning" or "flipped learning" as they can be created individually at home or involving the whole class in the classroom with the guidance and explanation of the teacher.
Algor Education is a web app accessible from a PC or tablet browser that helps you create concept maps online, customize them in a convenient graphical environment, and share them. Among the best concept map apps, it is aimed at students, teachers, or anyone who needs to learn, organize ideas, memorize concepts for study or oral presentations.
Algor Education Home Screen with organized maps and documents in folders.
Here's what you can do with Algor Education:
- Create concept maps in a few clicks, starting from a blank sheet, ready-made map templates, or a PDF document. In addition, the Quick Map feature allows you to create concept maps automatically from any topic, using the automatic suggestions of our platform;
- Customize your own maps in our editor, reorganize and modify them according to your taste and needs. You can add text, images, audio, links, customize colors, styles, and change layouts.
- Collaborate in real-time on the same map and share changes with friends and teachers;
- Listen to texts and write with inclusive fonts, the app integrates text-to-speech synthesis, allowing you to "listen to the map," with high readability fonts and colors to make reading easier if you have difficulties.
- Access your maps anywhere, being a web application, Algor allows you to have all your teaching material always available in your folders. You can access your maps and materials anywhere, even from mobile devices, with just an internet connection.
Discover Algor Education by creating a free account at app.algoreducation.com