What are Brainstorming and Mind-mapping Tools?

Brainstorming is a group activity for gathering, and possibly organizing, numerous spontaneous ideas/thoughts around a concept or problem.

Mind-mapping is a process of visually organizing information, often in a way that illustrates the connections between concepts or ideas. Mind maps often position a central concept at the core of the diagram, with related text, drawings, or images spanning out as branches.

What is the purpose of Brainstorming and Mind-mapping Tools?

Various online tools support the organization and representation of brainstorming or mind-mapping activities. These tools aid in the creation, sharing, and refinement of maps, figures, and diagrams.

How to use Brainstorming and Mind-mapping Tools

Tools such as Lucidchart and Coggle allow you to create a range of different diagrams and figures to represent your brainstorming or mind-mapping activities visually. Often online brainstorming/mind-mapping tools such as these support collaborative, sharing, and editing features, allowing multiple members of a team to work on the same map synchronously.

Tools such as these may be useful for supporting teaching and learning activities such as:

  • Engaging in brainstorming activities as part of a project or assignment
  • Exploring the connections between course concepts
  • Visually representing a course syllabus and major course elements
  • Developing highly visual figures and diagrams for conveying information

Mind Mapping for Higher Education

Hay, D., Kinchin, I., & Lygo-Baker, S. (2008). Making learning visible: the role of concept mapping in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 33(3), 295-311. doi: 10.1080/03075070802049251
  • This article describes four uses of mind mapping for teaching and learning in higher education, arguing for the value of the activity for facilitating students to transform abstract knowledge and understanding into concrete visual representations


Jones, B. D., Ruff, C., Snyder, J. D., Petrich, B., Koonce, C. (2012). The effects of mind mapping activities on students’ motivations. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 6(1), 1-21. doi: https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2012.060105
  • Authors investigated how students’ motivation differed between three different types of mind mapping activities. Overall, students were somewhat motivated by the activities with no significant differences between the types of activities tested. The authors highlight the importance of offering students flexibility and choice in their approaches to course-based mind mapping activities.

Mind Mapping Resource

Edwards, S. & Cooper, N. (2010). Mindmapping as a teaching resource. The Clinical Teacher, 7(4), 236-239. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-498X.2010.00395.x
  • While focused on clinical medicine and the sciences, this article is a helpful resource for instructors interested in using mind mapping as a teaching resource to prepare and review for teaching sessions, use mind maps during lessons, and/or use mind maps as assignments or examinations.