App review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2021
MindNode – Mind Ma‪p
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MindNode – Mind Ma‪p

Solid mind-mapping tool can be confusing beyond basic functionality

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Grades
5–12
Subjects & Skills
Communication & Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking
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Pros: A sleek layout makes your ideas look great.

Cons: Any kind of functionality beyond the basics requires a subscription and can get confusing.

Bottom Line: This mind-mapper may be a useful tool with some practice and direct instruction about how to use it effectively.

Because mind maps can help students map out what they know, or clarify ideas about anything, MindNode - Mind Map can be a relevant and useful tool for virtually any subject. Use mind maps to outline a writing project, analyze texts, review for a test, make connections between historical events, or take notes. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Though the developers don't offer many helpful examples, the one they use to demonstrate how MindNode - Mind Map works involves creating a business plan for opening a coffee shop.

Mind maps can also be used as an assessment tool: Students can demonstrate what they've learned about any topic, particularly around overarching concepts or connections between units. Maps can be easily shared with others in a variety of file formats. Some formats also allow for editing, which could potentially help support student collaboration.

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MindNode – Mind Ma‪p is an app for mobile and Mac iOS that can help students organize their thoughts into simple visual concept maps. The main screen is a blank canvas with an empty "node." Tap on it to give it a title, and it becomes the central idea or topic. Then create "child" nodes that branch out from the main idea as you start to include details. Students can tap and drag nodes to move them, group them in different ways, and create cross connections.

There are lots of ways to enhance the mind map. Include stickers or images with the text. Type up notes or include URL links for the nodes to flesh out the basic text. Add tasks to create a checklist of things to do. Change the overall style so that it looks exactly how you want it to. Export mind maps to view as read-only in a variety of different file formats, or share through the device's sharing options. Creating a basic mind map is free, but the extra features are available only with a subscription.

Using MindNode - Mind Map requires some level of ease with written language and with using digital tools. There's a short tutorial to go through upon first opening the app, but it's very basic. Beyond that, there's lots of how-to support to tap into if teachers or students want to learn about all the different features. The free version can easily stand on its own, but extra features require a subscription.

MindNode - Mind Map's strength is that making the most basic kind of map is pretty straightforward -- and it all looks good. The app wasn't designed specifically for use in the classroom, and it certainly wasn't designed with kids in mind. Though the developers offer a handful of real-life examples of how people can use a mind map, there are no clear examples for how making one, or using this particular app, can be useful -- that'll be up to teachers to figure out. That said, the interface is clean, and if students stick to the most basic functions, it's also relatively easy to use.

As students branch out and look to the various icons, menus, and submenus to create more complex maps, things can get more complicated. The developers have lots of support, including a massive user guide, but not all teachers and students will have the patience to learn all the nuances. If teachers stick to the free version, many of those other features are actually not available, which helps keep students to the basic features. But, on the other hand, that also keeps the maps quite simple, and limits the ways that students can personalize their ideas and their visuals. In general this digital mind-mapping tool has potential for being a flexible way for students to organize their ideas -- that is, if they can figure out how to use it.

Overall Rating

Engagement

It can be satisfying to see your ideas mapped out clearly on the screen. But beyond the basics, the interface can be complex.

Pedagogy

The visual presentation can make it easy for students to clarify, organize, and link ideas. But the connection to learning and the classroom is up to teachers and students to create.

Support

There are extensive how-to guides, but only a few examples of what a mind map is and how it can be helpful. The app is available in lots of languages.


Common Sense reviewer
Mieke VanderBorght Researcher

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