Mindmeister

Mindmeister is a mind mapping tool that can be used to create individual mind maps or share maps with others, allowing for online collaborative thought organization. Mind maps store and structure information, visually depicting hierarchies and relationships between topics, generally within a single concept. Mindmeister is available as a web-based platform or as mobile applications (iOS and Android), and maps can be shared privately or as part of Mindmeister’s public maps.

Pros:

Mindmeister is a digital upgrade of the classic whiteboard: like a whiteboard, users can create quick idea visualizations alone or with a group, but online mind maps in particular afford the ability to quickly add and subtract ideas and connections, shift hierarchies around as needed, and easily save the results. Additionally, URLs, images, and other external content can be added to maps created in Mindmeister to further enhance topics. Mindmeister offers public or private sharing between users, as well as the ability to sync mobile and web accounts, to facilitate collaboration. Mindmeister also provides a number of themes and styles, and users can create presentations (like Prezi) of their mind maps. A discounted pricing plan is available for students, educators, and schools.

Cons:

Mindmeister operates on the “freemium” pricing plan: users can create up to three maps at a time for free and can export them to other formats, but they must upgrade to a paid subscription in order to create more maps, take advantage of real time collaboration, and benefit from SSL encryption and storage. Additionally, sharing maps with other users counts towards their map limits if they have free accounts. Another aspect of Mindmeister that has room for improvement is the connections between nodes feature. Each “thought” can only be linked to one parent, and the links themselves can’t be named, so it’s impossible to indicate types of relationships (“inspired by” or “created by,” for example) between nodes.

Takeaway:

In general, mind mapping is a useful learning tool and can facilitate understanding of topics for students. The ability to share maps enables efficient brainstorming and communication, and Mindmeister effectively shares maps in real time, in addition to allowing users to export images and presentations. For presentations and export alone, the personal account ($4.99/month, or $2.99/month on the education pricing plan) should be enough to suit users’ needs. For true collaboration, however, the pro account ($9.99/month, or $4.99/month on the education pricing plan) might be the best bet, as it affords the management of multiple users and can therefore be more easily integrated into classroom collaboration exercises.