What are the Key Differences between Concept Maps and Mind Maps?Nancy
You may struggle to differentiate the real differences between concept maps and mind maps. Indeed, these two kinds of diagrams share many common points because concept mapping and mind mapping all belong to the field of Visual Mapping. Simply read this article to learn about their origins, basic definitions, key differences and how to conduct these two types.
What is a Concept Map?
Concept maps are normally used for sorting, analyzing and displaying knowledge (e.g. tacit information etc.) and problems based on a large and complex set of information. They are also used to show the cross-connections between different concepts within one, or more main topics. Generally, concept maps are organized in a top-down hierarchical structure. The idea of concept mapping was first introduced in the 1970s by an American researcher Joseph. Novak.
What is a Mind Map?
Mind Maps are mainly used for exploring ideas, brainstorming, and creative thinking. The common structure of a mind map has one main focus topic with a series of sub-branches in a center-out hierarchical structure. Each different node mains a specific subtopic (could be shown with images etc.), which can be further branched. The term ‘mind mapping’ was first pointed out by a British psychology author Tony Buzan in 1974. You can see below for a mind map example of English Parts of Speech.
Concept Maps or Mind Maps – Which to Choose?
Although these two types of diagrams have common points, their key differences are:
The Number of Main Topics
Mind maps are often radiating from a shared central topic in the middle of all the sub-topics. In contrast, concept maps can have more than one main topic.
The reading direction of a concept map is from top to down, whereas in a mind map you should read based on a center-out route.
The sub-topics of a mind map usually don’t connect to each other, while in concept maps, sub-branches may often be interlinked.
Order of Inter-connections
Subconcepts in a typical concept map is ranked descending from most general to most specific information from the central topic. This means the more important the idea, the closer it should be to the central topic. However, in mind maps, there is no particular order related to the main topic.
The Depth of Understanding
The creation of a concept map requires a deep and reasonable understanding of your subject after a series of analysis, whereas you can use mind mapping for quickly highlighting the general structure of your subject. Therefore, in this case, mind mapping seems to be more flexible than concept mapping.
Concept mapping can be considered as rather leveraging logical thinking whereas mind mapping does better in showing the balance between logical thinking and creative thinking. Furthermore, both concept maps and mind maps have text or linking words for each of the topic, but mind maps usually contain more visually appealing materials such as images or colors for the different levels of ideas within your mind map as shown in the below The Little Prince novel reading-note.
How to Conduct a Concept Map?
Now you know the definition and key differences between concept maps and mind maps, let’s see how to create one for yourself. First, you should keep in mind that try to add short and concise keywords when doing concept mapping and mind mapping. This can help you prevent from becoming text-heavy.
The general steps to create a concept map are shown below:
- Determine your main subject/topic/idea/question/issue.
- List all of your important concepts linked to your main subject. You can do so by brainstorming.
- Expand based on your concepts by asking yourself or your team questions. You should start your concept map from the top and develop it downward.
- Identify and explain relationships (both direct links and crosslinks) between concepts by adding words or phrases.
- Recheck your work for any missing parts/ideas and make sure that the relationships between your concepts are correct.
How to Develop a Mind Map?
The normal process to develop a mind map is:
- Decide your main concept (this could be a problem, a IT project, or an educational subject etc.)
- Add first-level branches (subtopics) to your main topic.
- Add more subbranches to your topic to continuously explore and sort your information.
- Insert support materials (images, videos, clip art, and colors etc.) if needed.
How to Draw These Maps by Software?
The way to draw concept maps or mind maps is not limited since you can do so by pencils, or by using a diagram software with rich preset templates and clip art like the one below. Easily add new topics, branches, connection lines and support materials for your work; change your diagram theme and style based on the built-in rainbow or hand-drawn feature; export and share your creation on the community; present your work by using the auto-create slideshow function. Free download Edraw MindMaster and have a try right now!