CCK08 Cmaps vs. Mindmaps

On my first Cmap I am trying to compare cmaps and mindmaps.


I think if we strictly followed the criteria of the grand old man of Cmaps (Novak) and the grand old man of Mindmaps (Buzan) then most maps that we produce would not deserve either of these labels.

In a broader sense, however, I would call anything a mindmap that has a predominant, radial, hierarchical structure (with cross connections being the exception), because the emphasis on the creative map generation process requires this radial structure.

Cmaps, in contrast, explicitly encourage cross-links (see the theoretical article linked in the Moodle discussion: “Another important characteristic of concept maps is the inclusion of cross-links.”). So I would call every mesh-like diagram of concepts a Cmap and ignore the urge for “propositions”.

I think the inclusion of propositions is a concession to people whose preferences (I don’t dare to say “style”) are more verbal than spatially visual, and this is useful when the map is not only used as a thinking tool by the creator himself but also for other viewers.

Similarly, today’s mindmaps are often trimmed in a manner appealing to people that would not otherwise look at pictures, and therefore often resemble text outlines. However, I would not fully agree that a radial hierarchical structure is nothing more than top-down linear indented outlines that are loved so much by the “leftbrainers”.

  • First, a linear structure is often very cumbersome to read if it becomes longer (in case of our moodle forum it was a pain to identify the indetation levels of 100+ posts), while in radial layout, the eye can wander more lightly.
  • Second, there is some charme and creative appeal with radial maps that is difficult to describe. I once tried to find out where this charme got lost while transforming someone else’s mindmap into my usual way to draw the maps for my own clarification (with elbow connectors for hierarchies and curved connectors for cross-links), and it was the point where the tree root moved from the center to the top when it became ugly.

Other aspects include that mindmaps are more “oral” and cmaps are more “literal”, and that hierarchical grouping simplifies selling one’s ideas while freely rearranging concepts helps with the previous stage of thinking.

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2 Responses to CCK08 Cmaps vs. Mindmaps

  1. Roy says:

    If you’d like to see some mind maps (none of them my own) with, as you mention, ‘creative appeal, please go to my recent post where I’ve put up works by my five favorite mind mappers (and links to their site) and see if you agree with my choice. You can also vote in a survey.

    The post is here:

    Mindmaps Directory

  2. That’s a great analysis, and I like the way you have applied it in different situations.
    I see the CMaps and MindMaps in line with your thoughts, and I would structure concepts in my mind that make meaningful connections and relationship, that would normally follow “a rational and logical line of thoughts” from one’s perspective. I see the rules in those maps as “emergent” as people share new understanding and so a “re-wiring” is necessary.
    The CMaps that I made up for How to learn, and Learning in CCK08, and the unpublished Cmaps on Blogging and Forum were all based on those “principles”. So for me, CMaps are tools for showing the connections and relationships that “map” what, how, where, and when the concepts are “emerged” upon interaction (either individually or with others) rather than just a static CMap. It needs to be dynamic in nature to make meaning, IMHO. Also, to different people who prefers graphics over words, or a combination of words and graphics, then such CMaps may better be re-mapped using those multimedia including actions.
    Are there any interactive CMaps – that could change the format and content to your liking? That suits the learner, not the originator.
    Thanks for this wonderful insight.

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