Mind map VS Learning map

in Instructional design

7 differences between mind map and Learning Map

Mind map VS Learning mapThere is no difference, you are going to say. But there is.

The main difference is that mind maps are all designed for presenting the idea or organizing/planning things together, thus all features are subjected to those needs, although you can use mind mapping tools for variety of different purposes depending on your creativity.

Learning Map on the other hand is visually and functionally designed only for educational purposes, for presenting a learning topic to the learners which must be very consistent, properly curated, meaningful and supported with appropriate didactic learning materials.

In this post I’m going to present key differences which will help you decide when to use mind map and when a Learning Map in e-learning.

1Mind maps are usually created by the user himself.Learning Maps are created by educator for the learners.
2Creation of mind map can be limitless.Learning Maps usually consists of 4-5 main nodes each with up to 3 sub-nodes to guarantee transparency.
3In mind maps you usually put only key word/image on the node and all other notes / attached materials are visible by clicking.Every node in Learning Map includes all key information that is visible right away, so learners can quickly understand the whole concept of the learning topic.
4Attached contents in a mind map could be different files and web links that are usually opened outside the mind map.Attached content to the Learning Map provides more in-depth learning. So every node can contain relevant source material like short lecture, video, quiz, reading assignment or web link. Everything is opened inside the Learning Map so that learners don’t get lost.
5Mind maps track changes made by someone.Learning Map can’t be modified by anyone else except by the educator.
6Mind maps usually don’t provide any asynchronous/synchronous communication concerning the topic.In a Learning Map you can enable discussion forum on every single node or on Learning Map as a whole to enhance understanding.
7Mind maps don’t include analytic system for monitoring the learning process.As an educator you can gather diverse data about your learners who use Learning Map.

From table above you can see that the mind map is surely the basis for a Learning Map with some added functionalities that are important in e-learning. So it depends on the purpose of your use of mapping tools and what functionalities you need.

But why use mapping tools in e-learning anyway:

  • It helps us break out of the linear way of presenting learning contents.
  • It prevents us from designing information dumps.
  • It encourages learners to explore topic and to pull the content at the point of need.
  • Tightly focused resources attached to map’s branches reflect in memorable learning experience.

and last but not least


For conclusion here is an example of a Learning Map:


Now it is your turn. Tell me, have you ever tried using mind mapping tools for e-learning design? What were the results?