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Free Graphic Organizer

Context

We had the privilege to have Ms. Chantal Beaucher as a guest at our pedagogical day last January. If you remember well, she spoke to us about graphic organizers (see the presentation offered during the ITREP meeting). She knows how to sell her stuff!! Teachers asked me to find a good and simple tool for creating different types of visuals, schemas, etc., online or not. Maybe you are using one of these tools to help your teachers.

Questions

Which free tools can be used to create visual schemas, including mental maps (other than Cmap Tools)?

Actions taken following this Appeal to All

I will test the proposed tools, and there are quite a lot, I will find out which one, according to needs, is the most relevant. Rest assured that Cmap will always be used.

Detailed Responses

INSTITUTION / ITREP

RESPONSES

Apop

Élise Derome

Here are the results of our research on tools for creating mental maps. Four suggestions will be presented, each one showing their advantages and limits.

Because free access is a criterion, the chosen approach will be to find a tool that offers the desired functionality. In this optic, two mental maps tools will be presented, as well as a tool for creating flowcharts and a whiteboard flowchart tool.

*It is important to note that the majority of products that offer a free version are restricted (sometimes heavily) in their functionalities compared to pay versions, but that upgrade can be attractive.

  • Coggle: Creation of mind maps in Cloud

Coggle is a free online tool for creating mind maps, which needs to synchronize with a Google account to be accessed. With Coggle you can create an infinite number of branches on the map, add images, hyperlinks, see the modification archive and add collaborators (with whom it is possible to chat). The interface is intuitive, user friendly and translated in French (bilingual), which makes it quite agreeable to use. When it comes to exporting maps,the available formats are PDF, image, text and mindmap (.mm). Also, being entirely on the web, Coggle is available both on Mac and Windows, but is unfortunately not adapted for mobile applications. There are, however, certain limits to the free version, such as mentioned in the introduction. The tool is limited to one private mind map, which means that additional maps will be accessible publicly to anyone surfing the web. Furthermore, some of the colours are exclusive to paying users, as well as the possibility to view the chat history.

  • Mindmaps: an advanced editor for mind maps creation

Mindmaps works the same as Coggle, meaning that it is free and to be used with a web browser, but differs from it by its complexity and superior power. For example, there is the integration of keyboard shortcuts, more flexibility with managing colours and text and a more precise handling of the different branches. It also proposes a wide range of sharing possibilities, including recording on Google Drive, Dropbox and on its own public servers, as well as saving on the local computer as an image, PDF ou Mindmaps file (.json). Another positive point is that no account is required for using this tool. Mindmaps’ limits are its complexity of use, making it a tool that is less intuitive than Coggle, and its interface is only in English.

If Coggle is too simple and Mindmaps too complicated, MindMup2 is another free tool linked to Google Drive that works very well.

LucidChart is a very complete tool for creating different types of visual contents, from organizational charts to Venn diagrams, passing by architectural plans, electrical circuit mapping or even the writing of a SWOT table used in marketing. When creating a document, this tool proposes several types of containers, connectors and models corresponding to many types of standards. On the interface level, it is user friendly, intuitive and easy to manage despite the many elements and options offered. In its free version, this is the tool that has the most limits. It is possible to create only five different documents and certain models (e.g. mind maps) are not available. Furthermore, a limit of 60 elements per document is imposed. To this you have to add that the site is offered only in English and that sometimes you receive insistent messages to upgrade to a pay version and those can sometimes be intrusive. Regardless of these limits, LucidChart is a very complete tool that deserves to be tested in its free version as it offers a very good performance and is a pleasant experience.

Finally, a whiteboard tool can be very useful as much for presenting interactive content as it is for taking notes. This is where Open Sankoré comes in handy by proposing a strong tool with which you draw, insert text, images, sound or video and much more. With this tool you can also annotate PowerPoint or PDF documents when giving a presentation in class, highlight important elements in a webpage or even demonstrate complicated mathematical equations without having to smear the board. Furthermore, Open Sankoré is freeware, free of cost and in French, working with Mac, Windows and Linux. Because it is freeware, there are no limits imposed on the use by users who can then take advantage of all of the functionalities and updates available.

Collégial international Sainte-Anne
Jean Desjardins

I started experimenting with a mind map tool that is fantastic and fantastically unknown: Realtime Board

  • User friendly
  • Interoperable with computers-tablets
  • Collaborative
  • Drawings, shapes, images, videos, web links: it is a white board AND a mind map tool. Amazing! Its only weakness so far is that it does not provide an integration code. But not many teachers need that!     

And don’t forget Canva to create posters and infographics

Édouard-Montpetit
Julie Dessureault

We use MindMeister

ITA – La Pocatière
Sylvie Fontaine

Do you have Office Pro in your institution? If so, Visio offers the Diagramme Brainstorming (Professional) for creating mind maps. I used it to create a diagram of our digital tools and the result is very interesting. You can find more details on Microsoft Office Support for Visio.

Lanaudière – Joliette
Martin Richard

Some of our teachers use Mindomo and are very satisfied with it.

Lionel-Groulx

Ghislaine Laurin

Teachers in Nursing are using the Mindomo application for iPads this semester. A student even created a mini tutorial for Mindomo (in French). Even though it has a few typos and grammatical errors in it, we invite you to consult it anyway.

Matane
René Bélanger

We use Mindjet for professionals and management. I love it but it’s very expensive and teachers don’t have it. I would like to have a tool as performant but not so expensive.

Montmorency

Pierre Cohen-Barie

VUE is free. Here is an article from the Adte on the subject.

Outaouais
Jean-François Nadeau

LucidChart:

  • Microsoft Visio Style
  • easy and powerful
  • very many libraries with symbols organized by themes
  • free for educational institutions, all you have to do is to request it
  • integrates with Google Disque (therefore in the cloud)
  • LucidPress is also accessible – software to create something like La Presse+

Mindmup:

  • collaborative outliner that is easy to use
  • free
  • integrates with Google Drive (therefore in the cloud)

Rimouski

Maxime Ross

LucidChart!!! It’s simple, collaborative and free, and it integrates perfectly with G Suite for Education! Look at my screenshot:

Sherbrooke

David Laplante

For my part, the first one that quickly comes to mind is Prezi. Free, visually interesting, I also like it a lot because of its ease of use for collaborative work and its simplicity to integrate to more classic material (pdf, PowerPoint, etc.) Furthermore, more and more youngsters have already worked with that tool.

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