Concept maps are used to stimulate the generation of ideas, and are believed to aid creativity. Concept mapping is also sometimes used for brain-storming. Although they are often personalized and idiosyncratic, concept maps can be used to communicate complex ideas.
Formalized concept maps are used in software design, where a common usage is Unified Modeling Language diagramming amongst similar conventions and development methodologies.
Concept mapping can also be seen as a first step in ontology-building, and can also be used flexibly to represent formal argument — similar to argument maps.
Concept maps are widely used in education and business. Uses include:
Note taking and summarizing gleaning key concepts, their relationships and hierarchy from documents and source materials
New knowledge creation: e.g., transforming tacit knowledge into an organizational resource, mapping team knowledge
Institutional knowledge preservation (retention), e.g., eliciting and mapping expert knowledge of employees prior to retirement
Collaborative knowledge modeling and the transfer of expert knowledge
Facilitating the creation of shared vision and shared understanding within a team or organization
Instructional design: concept maps used as Ausubelian “advance organizers” that provide an initial conceptual frame for subsequent information and learning.
Training: concept maps used as Ausubelian “advanced organizers” to represent the training context and its relationship to their jobs, to the organization’s strategic objectives, to training goals.
Communicating complex ideas and arguments
Examining the symmetry of complex ideas and arguments and associated terminology
Detailing the entire structure of an idea, train of thought, or line of argument (with the specific goal of exposing faults, errors, or gaps in one’s own reasoning) for the scrutiny of others.
Enhancing metacognition (learning to learn, and thinking about knowledge)
Improving language ability
Assessing learner understanding of learning objectives, concepts, and the relationship among those concepts