I use mind maps a lot. I think they’re a great way to organise information, classify ideas and also makes a fantastic revision tool. However, mind maps have been used in classrooms for decades, traditionally with different colour pens and (quite often) very large sheets of paper. SimpleMind is an app which brings the mind map into the 21st century! Plus, it’s great whether you have 1 iPad or you’re in a 1:1 classroom. In fact, it makes a fantastic collaborative tool as you can create a whole class mind map on one device and then distribute it to all either via AirDrop or uploading it to a shared folder in an app like Showbie.
*Please note, some of the features mentioned are only available in the paid version of the app. See below for more details.
For me, the best thing about SimpleMind is its simplicity: it is incredibly easy to use. It’s an app that both me and my learners use regularly to produce mind maps like this:
Here are some of the best features of SimpleMind:
– SimpleMind seems to have an unlimited canvas size, allowing you to create the largest mind maps imaginable. This is great since traditionally learners were constrained by the size of the paper or had to sacrifice readability to fit it all in.
– A digital mind map means you are not limited to keeping things in one place. It offers the flexibility to move features around.
– Different visual styles and colours are available, allowing the user to truly customise their mind map. I often use this to highlight subtopics within the main branches. For example, if learners were producing a case study of a flood event, they would have a branch showing the causes and then use different colours to categorise these as human or physical.
– Add images from your camera roll and links to external websites to your mind map.
– Hyperlink topics to other mind maps. I have used this where learners have created a central mind map with many different sub maps linked to each section. Students have created a revision mind map at the end of a topic to help revise for end of unit assessments. They have then created a central mind map featuring all of the topics covered, with each section linked to a more detail map they have already produced.
– Dropbox integration allows you to upload maps created to Dropbox. This not only works as a useful backup tool but also as a way of getting students to collaborate on learning. For example, if you had a whole class Dropbox, learners could create a mind map based on part of a topic and upload it to Dropbox. They are then in a central place and available to all and can even be downloaded and linked together like mentioned previously.
– Branches within the map can be collapsed and expanded. I’ve used this to create a mind map in advance and then collapsing the branches to hide information, just leaving a basic skeleton. Can then be expanded to reveal information as part of a close the gap activity.
There are numerous mind mapping apps available, however I believe SimpleMind is one of the best since it is a powerful, easy to use app packed with many features which make producing amazing mind maps incredibly simple. Many of the features missing from the free version are not essential for everyday classroom use making the free version a viable option. The only essential feature missing is the ability to export mind maps to the camera roll, however this can easily be overcome by taking a screenshot on your iPad. I would recommend giving the free version a go before committing to purchasing the full, paid for version.
SimpleMind for iPad (mind mapping) by xpt Software & Consulting B.V. is available for £4.49 on the App Store/SimpleMind+ (mind mapping) by xpt Software & Consulting B.V. is available for Free on the App Store.
*all prices and links correct at the time of publication and are subject to change