Collaborative Mind Mapping for Students with Popplet


Popplet is a super simple Web, iPhone and iPad app that allows you to create collaborative mind maps with your students. Including the ability to add media from YouTube, Flickr and Vimeo, as well as the option to upload your own images, students can create rich and reflective maps of their thoughts, ideas and work.

PoppletName: Popplet –
Pricing: Free / $4.99 / education pricing
CompatibilityiOS / Desktop
Access: Email signup
Privacy: Customizable (privacy policy)


A Quick Look

Popplet can be used for free via the Web interface (limited to five popplets) or by downloading Popplet Lite (limited to one popplet). I would suggest trying these free options out before committing to a subscription or the full App version ($4.99) where there is no limitation on the number of popplets that can be created.

The below video will give you a good overview of how to get started with Popplet as well as a brief intro to some of the sharing and collaboration capabilities. Or, you can dive straight in and start playing with the demo (no signup required).


In Practice

1. Class brainstorming

While students can use Popplet to map their own ideas and thought processes, it can be a very worthwhile activity to brainstorm and map together. Using either the Popplet app or Web interface, project your Popplet up in front of the whole class and begin a discussion. You can choose to add ‘nodes’ to the map yourself, or share the Popplet and allow your students to add ideas live using their own devices.

2. Setting visual expectations

First grade teacher, Meghan Zigmond uses Popplet with her class to set visual rules and expectations: “We use Popplet to set up expectations for iPad procedures. Students generate the expectations, with some teacher guidance to make sure a few key issues are included. Students usually end up thinking of things that I haven’t even considered!“. Have your students take photos to include in the Popplet to increase ownership and print out the finished product to post around the classroom.

iPad Procedures

3. Family Tree

Creating a family tree can be a great introduction to mind mapping as it’s a concept that is familiar and an idea that every student can visualize and relate to. Ask your students to use Popplet to create a visual representation of their own family, or a well known family from history, books or film. The resulting tree can then be saved or printed and shared with family members or posted on the wall in class.

4. Flipped learning

The collaborative nature and rich media integration of  Popplet makes it a perfect candidate for flipping your classroom. Create class/course material (text, images, videos, links) in a map format for students to progress through. Students can work their way through the map in their own time and ask questions by creating and linking their own nodes from the material. This works particularly well as you can answer questions right in the Popplet for all students see.

5. Grow the web

This ideas from educator Mark Cordon works extremely well as both a research exercise and a collaboration effort. As a class, create a base map using Popplet that centers around a class topic or subject. Each node in the map should be a fairly broad topic that can be expanded further. Once the base map is created, add your students as collaborators and have them break off into groups. Each group will then be assigned a node to branch and build on. The final product will be an extremely detailed Popplet with contributions from the whole class.


Links and Next Steps


Feature image courtesy of Flickr, Kevin Steinhardt.

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