Concept Maps

A concept map is a representation of your topic in a pictorial format.  It shows relationships between different concepts.  Concepts are drawn as nodes (I have used boxes) which are then connected with labelled lines.
  • A concept map is a graphical representation of a person's (student's) knowledge of a domain. (Alpert & Grueneberg, 2001).
Plotnick (1997) lists five purposes of concept mapping:
  • To generate ideas (brainstorming);
  • To design complex structures (long texts, hypermedia, large web sites);
  • To communicate complex ideas;
  • To aid learning by explicitly integrating new and old knowledge; and
  • To assess understanding or diagnose misunderstanding.

So how is this different to a mindmap?

A concept map represents knowledge.  The topics can have more than one parent and connectors, so the whole thing can be connected like a web.  It's a bit like multiple inheritance in C++ or Python.  Whereas if you are writing in Java, that does not permit multiple inheritance, so the heirarchy ends up looking more like a tree with branches and twigs.  I found this graphic on 
which also explains it much better than I can!

There are various software tools available to make concept maps, and the course materials suggested a free online tool at  but I just made mine with flowchart shapes in Visio. 


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