Concept maps: Meaningful learning made easy

5 minutes
Written by: Natalia De la Peña Frade

It’s time to lose those boring and complicated notes! With a concept map, even the most complex of topics can be easy to understand. And if you give it some animation and interactivity, it’ll be all the more powerful.

Believe me, if there’s any way to make the digestive system or the process of mitosis easy to study, this is it. Find out how to make the most of this powerful tool.

What is a concept map?

A concept map is the representation of information in a visual and schematic way, in which ideas are displayed with a focus on the connection between them.

Concept maps are a great tool for teaching and learning in a simple way. Using concept maps encourages meaningful learning, as they show information in context and make it easier to interpret. At a single glance, a concept map can allow us to take in all the ideas related to a concept and understand how the relationship works.

It’s a big help even if you’re not a visual learner. It is always easier to understand and assimilate ideas presented to us in a diagram than in a long, complex text.

Concept maps help you to structure and organize your thoughts, extract information, and summarize.

You’ll really reap the benefits when you need to understand or explain the relationship between different events which affect a concept, or analyze and compare two concepts while highlighting their similarities and differences. Thanks to concept maps, concepts are easier to remember.

They are also very useful for testing your knowledge. Finished studying a topic? Try to create a concept map with a diagram of the main ideas. You’ll quickly realize what you’ve learned and which parts you need to revise.

What are the elements of a concept map?

The essential elements of a concept map are the individual concepts, or nodes, and the relationships between them. Concepts are represented by name within a box or oval, and the relationships are represented by arrows which join the concepts together.

Other elements which can be included are connecting or linking words, which reinforce the meaning of the arrows between nodes and the propositions or brief statements which explain the ideas in a succinct way.

Interactive is better

Interactivity makes it possible to organize information in layers. In an interactive concept map, the diagram with the basic concepts is the first thing your audience will see. They can then begin to explore the information at their own pace, interacting with the elements and discovering more text, images, videos, GIFs, or even audios. Take a look at this example of a concept map:

Genially lets you create concept maps and easily add interactivity and animations, without needing to know how to program. As our eyes can’t help but be drawn to movement, animation will help you capture the attention of your audience and focus it on the points you want to.

Types of concept maps you can create with Genially 

Spider concept map 

So called because it resembles a spider’s web, in this map, the information is organized with the key concept in the centre. The derived concepts radiate outwards, surrounding the main one. It’s very useful for developing an idea starting from a single main concept.

Imagine, for example, that you want to use a concept map to explain the cell. You can place the title in the centre, and use the nodes which surround it to add the definition, the types of cells, the elements it is composed of, etc. Within each node you can put as much information as you’d like, by using the interactivity functions.

You can use a spider map for any theme; animal classification, material decomposition, or types of literary creations. It’s very versatile!

Hierarchical or chronological concept map

In a hierarchical or chronological concept map, the location of each concept has meaning, which is helpful for understanding the information.

In a hierarchical concept map, the information is organized according to its importance, with the main themes on top and the derivative ones below. This way it is easier to understand the importance of a particular element within a system. The further down an item appears, the less important it is.

In a chronological concept map, the information is organized according to the date on which it occurred. Timelines are chronological concept maps. They are super useful resources for understanding how a process happens or happened, and the order of its different phases.

How to make a concept map

As with mind maps, to create a concept map, all you need is pen and paper. However, it will look a whole lot better if you make it online. It’ll be much more eye-catching and infinitely easier to edit. And you’ll be able to share it with whoever you want.

  1. Start with a draft on paper. Don’t worry about the design for now, just try to define the central ideas. The key is the way in which they relate to one another.
  2. Once you’re clear on the ideas you want to include in the diagram, gather the information you’re going to place in the second layer, with the interactive buttons. The more varied the additional content, the more interesting your map will be. Add effective images to illustrate the concepts in an even more visual way, or videos to make it more entertaining. 
  3. Integrating everything into your concept map will take only a few minutes. Use one of the Genially templates to get your ideas down. There are all kinds of designs.

genially illustration

If you need help adding interactivity, you can learn how to do it in seconds here:

How’d it turn out? If you’d like more people to be able to use your creation, you can make it reusable or share it on your social profile. If you still haven’t activated yours, you can do it quickly in your Genially profile. You’ll have an extensive bank of resources to choose from.

Natalia De la Peña Frade
Natalia De la Peña Frade
Content creator: I try to write things you like to read
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