Concept Maps

The Cmap or Concept Map is a useful mindmap and model tool that I learned about in university. A  concept map is a diagram showing the relationships among concepts. They are graphical tools for organizing and representing knowledge. And acquiring knowledge is what it’s all about when you are at university!

It is particularly useful when you are studying a specific subject to show the relationships between ideas or words. From the wiki article:

Concept maps are used to stimulate the generation of ideas, and are believed to aid creativity. For example, concept mapping is sometimes used for brain-storming. Although they are often personalized and idiosyncratic, concept maps can be used to communicate complex ideas.

Formalized concept maps are used in software design, where a common usage is Unified Modeling Language diagramming amongst similar conventions and development methodologies.

Concept mapping can also be seen as a first step in ontology-building, and can also be used flexibly to represent formal argument.

Concept maps are widely used in education and business for:

  • Note taking and summarizing gleaning key concepts, their relationships and hierarchy from documents and source materials
  • New knowledge creation: e.g., transforming tacit knowledge into an organizational resource, mapping team knowledge
  • Institutional knowledge preservation (retention), e.g, eliciting and mapping expert knowledge of employees prior to retirement
  • Collaborative knowledge modelling and the transfer of expert knowledge
  • Facilitating the creation of shared vision and shared understanding within a team or organization
  • Instructional design: concept maps used as Ausubelian “advance organizers” which provide an initial conceptual frame for subsequent information and learning.
  • Training: concept maps used as Ausubelian “advanced organizers” to represent the training context and its relationship to their jobs, to the organization’s strategic objectives, to training goals.
  • Increasing meaningful learning:
  • Communicating complex ideas and arguments:
  • Examining the symmetry of complex ideas and arguments and associated terminology:
  • Detailing the entire structure of an idea, train of thought, or line of argument (with the specific goal of exposing faults, errors, or gaps in one’s own reasoning) for the scrutiny of others.
  • Enhancing meta-cognition (learning to learn, and thinking about knowledge)
  • Improving language ability
  • Assessing learner understanding of learning objectives, concepts, and the relationship among those concepts


To aid my writing of an essay about Ricoeur’s theory of text I made a quick layout of some of the ideas and directions I want to follow for the essay:

Cmap to aid in essay writing
Cmap to aid in essay writing

Having a Cmap like this gives me an overview of some of the central concepts whenever I need it!

Your Cmap can be as simple, complex and even aesthetically pleasing as you’d like. I did a more in-depth concept map for a decision making and value studies course on the topic of “DirectX 9 VS Directx 10 for a PC Game developer”:

Excerpt from the DirectX Cmap
Excerpt from the DirectX Cmap

Many connections and use of colours makes for a great Cmap!


You can download the IHMC CmapTool from their official website.