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T-110.5290 Seminar on Network Security and T-110.5190 Internetworking Seminar

Concept, mind, and dialog maps

Concept map

A concept map is a picture that describes the concepts and their relationships in a topic. For example, information seeking and organizing process picture is actually a concept map. Concept maps are good for organizing knowledge on a topic area, finding relationships, developing terminology in a topic area, and creating requirement specifications. Here are examples of concept maps drawn before and while reading an article.

In a good concept map, each link creates an independent sentence. The relationships should not be lingual and there should be no unnecessary adjectives. Avoid have and be verbs. More detailed instructions for what is a good concept map is given on a separate page (the original in Finnish: Millainen on hyvä käsitekartta?).

CmapTools is a free software for drawing concept maps. Simple maps are easy to draw, but the software also gives possiblities for further highlighting and sharing of maps. One limitations of concept maps drawn with CmapTools is that it can only describe one-to-one relationships.

Mind map

A mind map is good for describing the structure of a "thing" and creating associations. The mind map is good for making notes, structuring a presentation, collecting ideas, and grouping parts of a "thing". In a good mind map, each arc should have only one word.

FreeMind is a free tool for drawing mind maps.

Here is one example of a mind map drawn while reading an article (in Step 8 of organizing knowledge process). The example is not very good since it breaks the rule of one word per arc. Note that only the maker of the map can really understand it and everybody should read the orginal article by themselves and draw their own map of it! Another example illustrates one way to organize knowledge of a topic area (in about Step 11). It describes the content of an article and the most interesting sources that should be read next. Evidently, this map is incomplete.

Dialog map

Dialog maps can be used to follow a discussion, evaluate alternatives, and as a tool for argumentation analysis. Of course, the discussion is not always a concrete discussion between two or more people, it can also be between an author of an article and a reader. The dialog map illustrates the structure of the discussion: questions and problems of the topic, their answers and solutions, and justifications, benefits and drawbacks, and, in above the mentioned case, reader's own remarks.

Instructions for creating a good dialog map are on a separate page (the original in Finnish: Millainen on hyvä dialogikartta)

Compendium provides a free tool for drawing dialog maps.