Introduction
An Audio version of this page is here:

Concept mapping can be a trans-formative tool in your educational practice. Although using the information on this page, it should take you about 40 minutes to download the software and build you first map, to fully appreciate it and use it would take much longer. The Novak paper mentioned below would be a good starting point.

At this stage if one has been playing with the internet and involved in education, you may well have encountered “Mind maps”. Here is an example:
ClassroomMM.png
alt="Image is of a central node connected to side nodes"! caption="Diagram of a classroom with a teacher and students"

Mind map made with Freemind

Mind maps consist of labels for things connected by links. In a mind map there is generally one central theme and everything proceeds from this, as do branches from a tree.
Concept maps, as conceived in CmapTools, differ, insofar as the links are labeled. This seems like a trivial difference but the theory is that by insisting that you have to define the relationship between the entities shown you force the user to invoke deep thinking about the subject and this promotes longer lasting and better learning. They also allow cross links between nodes. In the above classroom example I could also put in a link between “teacher” and “Students” with the relations ship “talks to” or teaches
Classroom.png
Details of the software are on the CmapTools web site. CmapTools Website.
The actual download page is here
(URL: http://cmap.ihmc.us/)
and a video of this process is available here:
Link to Youtube video of the installation process
URL: http://cmap.ihmc.us/ Versions are available for MAC and Linux.
Educational Use.
The most interesting use is for both formative and summative assessment. In the formative role we ask an individual or group to put together a concept map showing all that they know about a subject. We can then look this over identify gaps and misconceptions in the map, and teach to those deficits.
In the summative role concept mapping aids in a similar way in identifying gaps and misconceptions.

In my opinion, this is probably one of the more significant pieces of software that we encountered on this course, however it is also one that probably requires the largest amount of learning time to benefit fully from. As such consider this as just being a starting point.
Further reading is here: Paper on Concept maps by Novak
URL:
http://cmap.ihmc.us/Publications/ResearchPapers/TheoryCmaps/TheoryUnderlyingConceptMaps.htm
Novak is the Cornell professor who pioneered these.
A paper on using Cmaps for summative assessment of ships cadets is here:
Paper on using CmapTools in a Cadet sandwich course.

URL: http://cmapspublic2.ihmc.us/servlet/SBReadResourceServlet?rid=1151381955265_836785863_15541

Slide3.JPG

I would appreciate a little feedback on how useful you find the site, if you have time I have an eight question survey below:
User Survey
If you have any questions or comments about this topic, there is a discussion forum here where you can explore this further.