Mind mapping is a great way for teachers to jot down their thoughts, plans, or ideas in a structured way to help make connections and give them meaning. However, it’s also a great exercise for students, no matter what subject they are working on.
There is an expansive list of mind mapping tools out there for teachers and students to begin using to visualize and organize their ideas. Doing this digitally allows flexibility in the structure that paper can’t always give you. All these applications work similarly – you begin with your central idea, then add-in sibling and child branches to further express the idea. Then, the customization tools to add in color, images, videos, and shapes will depend on the application you choose.
To help you choose the right application, we’ve created a list of 5 popular mind mapping tools with a focus on collaboration. Read below to find out more about the features and pricing of each.
MindMeister – best for easy collaboration
MindMeister is a cloud-based mind mapping tool that can be used for brainstorming, note-taking, project planning, or any other creative task. Because it’s a web app, you won’t have any trouble using it, no matter which platform you are currently using.
You can have students use this by themselves, or multiple classmates can be working together at the same time. Comments and votes can be added on each idea to create a discussion without modifying the content. MindMeister also has a full backup of the changes so that you can see who added what and when.
- Collaboration tools include voting, commenting, and chatting in real-time
- History view to see all past changes on the map
- Presentation mode to visually present ideas to those around you
- Integrated with Microsft Teams and Google
- Import mind maps from other free mind mapping tools
The Free Plan gives access to 3 mind maps. For more features and unlimited maps, there is an EDU Personal Plan for $2.5/month. To export to Excel or PowerPoint and even more features, check out the EDU Pro Plan at $4/month. If your whole institution is interested, there is a Campus plan for $1/month.
Note: Meister is providing free access to its premium software suite for the next six months to universities and schools.
Coggle – best for new mind mappers
Coggle is a great mind map to use for visualizing complex information. Creating your mind map or flowchart is super intuitive and easy to do. At any time, invite others by email to view and edit your mind map in real-time. When working together, you also have the option to chat right within the app, like some other applications on this list.
What I like about Coggle, is that it runs on your web browser so it can be accessed anywhere. Just sign up and begin using it. They also have Android and iOS applications so that you can take your work on the go.
- Automatically saves work
- Unlimited image uploads
- Versatile creation options – multiple starting points, join branches and create loops, and have floating text not part of your tree for annotations
- Private and public mind maps
- Embeddable diagrams
Coggle has a Free plan with 3 private mind maps and unlimited public ones. With the Awesome plan, for $5/month you can have unlimited private mind maps and more control in the style creation of your maps. There is also an Organization plan for $8/month which is ideal from teams that want to consolidate their data and billing.
Mindomo – best for integration with other apps and software
Mindomo can be used to make collaborative mind maps, concept maps, outlines, and manage projects and tasks. When making the maps, there are plenty of customizable options, like adding photos, videos, and changing the shape and color, so that each map is unique.
Mindomo has a feature that allows you to create collaborative mind mapping assignments. Students are able to work on a mind map together and chat within the application. When it’s complete, you can review, leave feedback, and grade the mind maps, all right in the app.
- Enroll with or without email so students have no issue using the software
- Integrated with Google Classroom and Office 365
- Backup with Goole Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox
- Up to 12 export formats to choose from
- Import audio and video right from Youtube or Vimeo
3 mind maps are available with the free plan. Otherwise, there is a basic plan for an individual user at $3 per month, a teacher (+ student) account for $5 per month or a classroom/school plan at $9 per month.
Note: All these plans come with a 30 day money back guarantee!
MindNode – best for individual mind mapping
Although MindNode is only an application for iOS devices, I wanted to include it in the list because of its functionality for individual working. MindNode does not have any collaboration features, so it would be a great option if you are using it for yourself, or don’t need it for student collaboration.
There is an array of features to add to your mind map to make it all your own and house every idea you have. With MindNode you can easily create tasks from your map and export it to your favorite task manager to begin shaping your ideas into reality.
- Alternate views to inspect your map, like a list format
- Quick Entry to add ideas right when they hit you
- Pull content from other apps with drag and drop
- Focus Mode to concentrate on one area of the map
- Add tags, stickers, and change the theme to make the map your own
MindNode has a 14-day free trial, but after you can choose to have a monthly subscription of $2.5/month or $20/year for MindNode Plus.
SimpleMind – best for turning PDF’s into mind maps
With SimpleMind’s mobile app, it’s easy to create on the go and add more features, like voice memos to your mind map. While you aren’t able to work in realtime with others on SimpleMind, they have a variety of sharing options, including Google Drive and Dropbox.
The most unique feature of SimpleMind is the ability to import a PDF and have it converted into a mind map. SimpleMind will “translate” the PDF into a mind map for an easier way to view the information. Once the conversion is complete, it can be edited as needed.
- Multiple maps can go on the same page
- Variety of layout options including horizontal, vertical, or traditional freeform
- Cloud saving to access map from any device
- Sync up with Dropbox or Google Drive
Try Simple mind with a 30-day free trial, or the free version on iPhone, iPad, or Android. Depending on your team size and operating system, check out which paid plan is best for you over at SimpleMind’s pricing page.
How do I choose?
All these mind mapping tools are great options for teachers and students, and you cant go wrong with any of them. But to help you out, we recommend the following:
If your focus is solely on collaboration, use MindMeister because of its unique collaboration tools, like voting, commenting, and chatting.
If you have younger students or are just getting into mind mapping yourself, use Coggle because of its intuitive and easy way to make diagrams.
If you want to assign mind maps as homework, use Mindomo because of its assignment and collaborative features.
If you are an iOS user, use MindNode for the best individual mind mapping experience.
If you need a large canvas to house more than one mind map, use SimpleMind because of its unlimited space for your creations.
Let us know in the comments which mind mapping application you enjoy or are a bit disappointed in. We would love to hear from you!
For more online teaching tool recommendations, check out our Teachers Guide to Online Teaching with Video Conferencing.