Students and learners of all ages are using concept maps to learn or simply reorganise ideas and concepts in a concise and graphic way. Whether at school, university or work, concept maps are a versatile tool for anyone who deals with a lot of ideas and information.
In this article we will look at:
A concept map is a graphic tool of great 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 characterised by being structured in a rational and hierarchical way, with nodes usually branching from top to bottom, linked by arrows oriented like the branches of an inverted tree.
By looking at a properly constructed concept map, it should be possible to reconstruct the development of real reasoning, starting from the root with more central information to the leaves containing more specific concepts.
A concept map will always be a concise 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. In order to elaborate a concept map it is important to respect the hierarchical structure, so it is necessary to identify the main topic and then the subtopics that link to the main concept.
Once the main concepts have been identified, they can be represented graphically in the form of nodes containing keyword text. Finally, it is important that the map is not just a collection of linked concepts, but that the relationships between the conceptual nodes should be made explicit. One way to give meaning to the relationships between concepts is to insert verbs or connectives as labels in the oriented arrows.
For more information on this topic, see our guide on how to create a concept map.
Concept mapping is an innovative way of reworking, graphically representing and conveying to others the relationships between concepts by making the most of the visual channel. Concept maps are very useful for everyone in different fields and contexts because:
- They help to visualise information according to one's verbal or visual strategy;
- They allow a better understanding of the original text;
- They explain rational inferences and connections between different concepts,
- They favour the writing of concepts and help memorisation;
- They allow information to be retrieved for oral presentation to others.
The traditional concept map, i.e. the one theorised by the American academic Joseph Novak in the 1970s, is the best known and most widely used type of map for study and learning. Over the years, with the spread of new study methods and the advent of digital, new types of maps have been introduced: mind maps and multimedia maps. Different in appearance, attitude and purpose of use, let us try to understand together what their distinctive features are.
Mind mapping has a more recent history, born in 1996 from the studies of British cognitivist Tony Buzan. Mind maps differ from concept maps in their appearance, method of construction and purpose of use. They are a graphical representation of associative thinking, designed to practice visual memory and have the following distinguishing characteristics:
- They are radial in shape with a single main concept or keyword arranged in the centre;
- They are more oriented towards the creative aspect and intuition in a strictly personal key;
- They have branches arranged in a hierarchical structure and associations that mimic mental connections;
- They contain branches connecting different points of the map with little text expressed in a very concise way;
- They are characterised by the use of different colours from the beginning of its creation and imaginative illustrations.
To make a mind map, one proceeds by association. The elements of the map are inserted dynamically without a clear distinction between when key concepts are identified and when they are combined, as is the case with concept maps.
The evolution of concept maps and mind maps are multimedia maps, i.e. those that are built online or with web applications and specific software (such as Algor Education) and that allow the insertion of interactive resources such as images, videos, audio or links to web pages.
The advantages of these maps are undoubtedly their flexibility and transversality, as they allow quick and direct access to teaching material and can be used by subject, from humanities to sciences, including foreign languages. In addition, multimedia maps constructed with the help of a PC or tablet offer the clear advantage of being able to write and erase more flexibly and quickly.
Boys and girls with neurodiversities such as dyslexia have great difficulty reading and rereading long texts for comprehension and learning, so they need to find personalised and innovative study methods.
Although each student with dyslexia uses different cognitive strategies to learn better depending on the type and severity of the disorder, in many cases concept maps, mind maps and multimedia maps in general are recognised by experts as a very useful compensatory tool. In particular, the construction of concept maps from the digital textbook helps to compensate for the difficulty to grasp information sequentially, the effort to find the key words and the connection between different concepts, or the fatigue to use short-term memory.
For learners with dyslexia, the identification of textual indexes (titles, highlighted words, illustrations, captions), the hierarchical structure of concepts, the use of little text and the exploitation of the non-textual channel with the presence of illustrations, images, videos and audio are crucial. In addition, the use of voice synthesis is very useful to be able to "listen to the text", saving the effort and time spent on reading.
Algor Education is a web application accessible from a browser on a PC or tablet that helps to create online concept maps, customise them in a convenient graphical environment and share them. One of the best concept mapping apps, it is aimed at students, teachers or anyone who needs to learn, organise ideas, memorise concepts for study or speaking.
This is what you can do in Algor Education:
- Create concept maps in a few clicks, from a blank sheet of paper, ready-made map templates or a PDF document. In addition, the Quick Map feature allows you to create concept maps automatically from any topic, taking advantage of our platform's automatic suggestions;
- Customise your maps in our editor, rearrange and edit them to your liking and according to your needs. You can insert text, images, audio, links, customise colours, styles and change layouts.
- Collaborate in real time on the same map and share changes with friends and teachers.
- Listen to the text and write with inclusive fonts, the application incorporates voice synthesis that allows you to "listen to the map" and highly legible fonts and colours to make it easier to read if you have problems.
- Access your maps from anywhere, being a web application, Algor allows you to have all your learning material available in your folders at all times. You can retrieve your maps and material anywhere, even from a mobile phone, all you need is an Internet connection.
Discover Algor Education by creating a free account at app.algoreducation.com. You can try all of Algor Education's premium features for free for 7 days.