Thing 10 — Flow Charts and Mind Maps


As organizations look for new ways to collobarate across the room, campus, city, county and nation online colloboration tools have exploded on the scene.

One offshoot of online collaborative tools are the Mindmaps and Flowcharts.  These tools allow you to capture your ideas and keep them in one central location.

Please explore these and answer the discovery exercise question below in the comments.

The wiki article is here:


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59 Responses to “Thing 10 — Flow Charts and Mind Maps”

  1. Rainey Says:

    What I liked about Flowcharts – The fact that you can brainstorm on line, everything is in realtime;the clip art library is awsome; and I like the fact that you can have as many pages as you like. I definately will use this for brainstorming with my supervior team!

    What I liked about Gliffy -i used gliffy to create a new organization chart for my department. I liked the different shapes it offers. I used different shapes for different levels of staff; such as salaried vs hourly, subs and supervisors.

    I also liked the Bubblius mind map. It goes along with how my brain works–all ovrer the place!

    I acutally did this stuff last eeek have been waiting to add to the blog.

  2. Jeanne Trice Says:

    I did this one last week too-I really thought Flowcharts would be of no use to me, but I was wrong. I love Gliffy!
    I have been looking for a program to draw the floorplan of the library in a simple, straightforward manner. So many of them are complicated to use and require an engineering degree to create a straight line. I also wanted to be able to put in all the furniture, shelving, doors, windows, etc. Gliffy provides all that and I like that it is easy to use and can be modified over and over-and you can store it online and come back to it later.

  3. Virginia Hyde Says:
    signed up for Gliffy, made a chart. was easy to use. looked at, Flowcharts. computer was slow couldn’t do to much with them.

  4. JackieCassidy Says:

    I came across Gliffy when exploring Slideshare, so I was happy to see it as part of Thing 10. Gliffy has a great shape and image collection. I am also planning to use it to create a floorplan of my branch. Mindmeister is new to me. I used it to brainstorm craft ideas for Christmas. I like the share feature and the possibility to collaborate with Mindmeister. These tools certainly help to expand our workspace.

  5. JessNhem Says:

    If I never see another ERD in the rest of my life it will be too soon. Just kidding. I tried the Start Brainstorming option in and I can definitely tell the difference between the flowcharts and mind maps. Flowcharts would have been a big help instead of me trying to make one in Word/Publisher like I was doing in school. And, was just a simple bubble chart that one could you to connect thoughts…If I had time to sit down and collect them.

  6. DBennett Says:

    I definitely want to spend more time on all of them. I know I’ll be able to update our organizational chart using one of the flowcharts. seems more straightforward than Flowcharts, but if I spent more time with Flowcharts, it seems to be more powerful. I invited another staff member to look at one of my test charts, which is cool.

  7. CSmith Says:

    I liked the best. I made a sample storytime program and it worked well. I could see sharing this or one of the other flowcharts if there is a project all are working on together. People could add bubbles or squares or whatnot to it. Somebody taking minutes at a meeting with a laptop could record brainstorming sessions using one of these.

  8. shannonmc Says:

    I tried Gliffy and Gliffy took a bit to figure out and was frustrating at times but once I got the hang of how it did work I liked it. It provides a very professional looking outcome. The shapes/images had a wide range. I liked also the collaboration aspect. It appears to make sharing the material and finalizing a project that much easier. was just fun to play with it. I loved the explosions when you delete something. Very cool. It was very easy to use and I can see the potential of using this tool during a session via a laptop and notetaker versus pen and paper which then needs to be transferred to share. I think both tools are beneficial to use when dealing with large projects.

  9. jodielynn Says:

    I tried Gliffy and I really could have used gliffy when I was in library school and taking my database management classes! I managed to use one month free trials on different flowchart websites that cost money but using gliffy would have been a lot easier. was interesting and I really liked how the boxes burst into flames when I “x ed out.”

    I think being able to share with other people in the same organization makes this a very useful tool. I love how so many things like this are free!

  10. sunflower Says:

    I’ve enjoyed lerarning about Gliffy and I could see these would be useful for charts and other work that needs to look professional. was fun to play with. Since this is the last “thing”, I want to say thank you for all the interesting “things” I learned. Many thanks for making these available.

  11. beachylibrarian Says:

    I found Gliffy and to be very interesting, although I don’t know that I would really use either one. Certainly Gliffy would be useful for floor plans, and for mind mapping in meetings, atlhough I think either one could prove to be time consuming to use. Their main use probably would be for collaboration with people who are not in the same location. I also would like to say thank you for the opportunity to explore all of these interesting web applications -most of which I had not heard of, and would not have had a chance to explore otherwise.

  12. D. Sebly Says:

    I am still waiting for to respond, and I have a feeling that this will be the site that is best for me to articulate ideas, plans, and systems of organization that swirl around in abstract form until they are formed into more coherent logic models. I played around with mindmeister and, both of which were fun. Of those two, I prefer mindmeister, because the tabs were so clear for help you might need.

    I can see these sites used in group projects, but we group members might be inclined to play with the charts rather than getting on with the work. I mean, you can put in colors and have all sorts of sibling tabs and do really fun stuff with your charts. So why settle into the hard tasks of a project when you can pretend you’re doing your job by creating colorful flowcharts? Lots of fun.

  13. forestlover Says:

    I had fun making a floor plan in Gliffy. I see some people are interested in designing a new floor plan for the library. That’s ambitious! I did a flow chart for the Winter Reading reception in mindmeister. Seeing thoughts on paper is often helpful and flow charts do a nice job of showing relationships. For my position in the library I think mindmeister might be more useful.

  14. dragonfly327 Says:

    I gave Gliffy and a try. I am probably the least artistic person alive, and Gliffy just kind of overwhelmed me. It was too much stuff! I’ve never had the need to make a flow chart (that was a weird discovery to make) so I had trouble just making one up. For lack of something better, I made a floor plan of my bedroom. It turned out OK. I liked a little better. It was simpler to understand, and I have been to plenty of workshops where ideas are just typed or written out as they are shouted out from participants. That could come in handy. I printed out my sample and it looked really nice. Overall, neither are things I’ll be returning to anytime soon, but would really come in handy should the need arise.

  15. Ann Drake Says:

    I am more of a brainstorming kind of person so I was impressed with both and Mindmeister. I think they both had positive points to them and would be good for me to use since they would help me and I guess others fine tune a project. I liked the features both of them had, and was impressed with the Camtasia tutorial on Mindmeister. Gliffy and were impressive as well. I found that I preferred because and this is probably a bad reason, when I explored Gliffy I was put off by the technical look and busyness of the web site. If I had to use a flow chart after I created a mind map I would probably use

  16. milt Says:

    I started off by checking out flowcharts over at Gliffy. I’ve never tried making one of these before, but it was fairly easy to use. Most of the buttons that you use to create your flowchart are similar to the ones that you would find in a Microsoft Office program. All of the different symbols and boxes that you can use can be easily dragged over to your flow chart and the different colors you can use to customize your chart were pretty cool too. This would be a good site to use if you need to put together a presentaion or if you are setting up a “how to” guide….possibly for circulation procedures.

    Next, I checked out mindmeister and their mind maps. The overall concept of mind maps is pretty cool since you are able to have a map that is public, so a group of people can get to it and add their ideas to a project from any computer at any time. The “add” button is easy to use and allows you to branch out from a topic or idea that is already on the map. The “navigator” is also a nice function because it allows you to find your way around the chart, which is helpful for when your chart is getting filled up with lots of ideas. This would be a good site to use if a branch is brainstorming about a new project or addition that they are trying to put together.

    These sites may not be something that I would go out of my way to use, but for those that like to put things together visually on a computer, then they would be great tools to give a try!!

  17. KristinB Says:

    I’m either not a flowchart/mind map type of girl, or I just didn’t have any brilliant ideas in which to properly utilize these tools. I explored Gliffy and I was most excited to see the “floor plan” feature of Gliffy. It was like AutoCAD superlite! So excited was I, that I set about using it to draw the first ever floor plans that I drafted (or at least as well as memory allowed). For basic design needs, it is a very useful free tool. I found Gliffy easy to use, though sometimes I did have a hard time making lines match up.

    On, I created first a mind map of what needed to be done for the holidays, but then narrowed it down to possible ideas for Christmas presents for my family. Thank goodness for the explode button! It makes it so easy to get rid of mistakes.

    I don’t know how much I would personally use these sites. I think I’m not that visual of a person, so it just seems silly to use these tools. However, I am glad to know that these sites are out there for use, even if I don’t intend to use them on a daily/weekly/monthly/ basis.

    And, thank you for letting me join in on this fun learning experience! I’ve learned so much!

  18. Etta Place Says:

    I managed to get into all four places. Now I have more accounts than I know what to do with! I would really have to spend a lot more time in each place. Although I’m very visual, I can’t think of how I would use a flow chart or mind map at work. My job is simple and linear. I don’t think I get involved in anything complex enough to use these tools. I don’t think our organization is very complex. I thought the tools were very interesting and I’m glad to know that they exist.

    I might use the flow chart for room designs at home. However, while working with Credo Reference in the databases I found a mind map that I liked. You fill in the initial subject and it fills in the rest. Then you can travel in all directions to explore the subject. I felt a lot more comfortable with that design. I also could see where it would be useful to students who are exploring a subject for a paper and need help narrowing it down. That was the first mind map I ever saw and that was recently. I guess it’s just another new techno tool to get my head around.

    I also really enjoyed these sessions. Very interesting stuff. Liked working at my own pace. Helpful info etc…. Good Job! Now I must get started on Bite size data bases!!!!

  19. Peggy M. Says:

    The flow charts are really convenient and in the past I used a software program producing similar results. Of course it was lost somewhere many viruses ago on my computer. So I was delighted to play around with the flow charts. It is a great resource to demonstrate information to a group. I am a visual person so I really relate well to this type of program. I also liked Gliffy and was impressed with the floorplan program. I can see myself using both in the future.

  20. Rusty Says:

    I set up accounts in Gliffy for flowcharts and for mindmapping. Once I got the hang of how to draw and connect the various shapes in Gliffy, I really liked it. I drew a flowchart on Weeding Guidelines and it really is much easier for me to see instructions visually than to have them just written down in text form. I chose over mindmeister because it was visually more appealing to me. I can see where it would work in a brainstorming session like Adult Programming to help keep thoughts organized, as long as the notetaker could keep up with the comments! Flowcharts are more precise and have a very specific logical pattern about them. I used them in business courses in both undergrad and grad school and it was important that each shape corresponded to the appropriate course of action. With mindmapping, it’s a lot more sporadic with less structure. I can see mindmapping’s usefulness in brainstorming and other creative processes. But for me, I prefer using flowcharts because of the precise details and logic. Of course, I am much more left brained than right brained!

  21. ReluctantBlogger Says:

    I can see that people who like to think through flow charts and mind maps will find these sites very useful. Gliffy was easy enough to use, I liked all the choices for shapes and colors. I liked the possibility to colloborate on the same projects. I printed only one flow chart, so I can’t judge if there was something I could have done differently or it is due to the site limitations, but it cut the image in the middle during printing, and I couldn’t tell that it would happen just by looking at the page I was working on. Mindmeister was easy and appealing to use. I would recommend both of these sites (and to patrons. In 5 years I have not been asked for software or sites like that, but if I get questions like this in the future, I will be ready…

  22. ABG Julia's Blog Says:

    I tried Gliffy & had to play with it for a while. It is some years since I needed to use a flowchart, although at one time I used them a lot. I think you need to play with it a bit but I liked it. I very much liked Mindmeister was also OK but I didn’t get into Flowchart. These sites could well be used in a team/library/office setting as well as for home use. A flowchart is more precise for planning, and a mindmap is more for creative thinking. A good end to the program – thanks to all who planned it.

  23. InsaneLibraryLady Says:

    I tried Gliffy and liked the floorplan program. Flowchart was useful and I can see myself using both of these sites and also recommending these to my patrons if the need would arise. I also want to thank you for this learning experience and I can’t wait for the next one to be offered!!!

  24. Gentlewinds Says:

    I am involved in a writing project and decided to plan the necessary steps in both and Gliffy. provided more capablility to do brainstorming for the project. I especially like the collaborative aspect of it. Gliffy, on the other hand, was confusing at first. Once I understood how it worked, I enjoyed using it and appreciated the discipline of outlining the steps in my project. The visuals in Gliffy are very professional and valuable. I can see using and suggesting both of these to customers.

    Thank you to all who planned this learning experience. I have really enjoyed it and look forward to the next one.

  25. Michelle_Neu Says:

    Not a very visual person so these sites did not appeal to me very much. Nice to be aware of them. I did like the floorplan in Gliffy. And I have to redo some training manuals so I’m going to see if any of the others could be used for that. Not sure if I’ll use it because I like step by step instructions vs pictures or bubbles. But good to know programs like this are out there.

  26. Lisamck Says:

    These tools like like what you can use in Microsoft Visio–the difference is that they are online and FREE. Amazing. I actually have a workflow project that I am putting together now, so this gives me some additional tools to try. The Gliffy seems to me to be the best overall.

  27. sunshine Says:, Gliffy, and FlowCharts…Oh MY! The bubble chart was a great tool for mapping at ideas. Brainstorming in meetings sometimes looks like this in my mind. Using FlowCharts was something that I done in other Microsoft programs but I could see how this would be an easy way to create a presentation or an organizational chart for business and organizations.

    As a footnote I liked exploring all of the sites and new Things very much. Mostly I enjoyed reading other people’s comments which gave me more ideas and ways to use those wonderful new Things:)

  28. John Says:

    I like for its simplicity. I would like to try using it in a meeting setting with the purpose of structured brainstorming. I guess if we could find the tool that took these things in sequence from mind map to flow chart to gantt chart with responsibilities and due dates we would really have something. But thankfully, paper and pencil is still cheap and continues to inspire and coordinate me as I try to get things done and help others stay on track.

  29. Michelle Sebly Says:

    I wish I had had these tools when I was taking my first Biology course!

    Can definitely see the value considering how many team efforts and projects our system has going on at any given time.

  30. Mysterylover Says:

    I love to create and use flow-charts…the last time I did one I did using Publisher, which worked, but required me to do a lot “by hand”. I tried Gliffy and really like it a lot. It was really pretty easy to use, although I did have trouble finding a connecting arrow.
    I also looked at both the mind mapping tools. I thought that neither of them is very intuitive, and I needed to look at the video on Mindmeister to understand how to add ideas. I thought that is a little easier to use, but it doesn’t seem to have as many features as Mindmeister. I feel like the mind mapping tools could use more tweaking to make them a little more user friendly. However, in general, I think these tools are great, and I can see myself using them, especially the flow-chart tools in the future. With innovation being a key topic in our library system, I can see these tools being put to use. The fact that they can be shared with others online makes mind mapping a possibility even when meetings are being help “virtually”.

  31. Ponyahhn Says:

    I am not a visual person, so websites like these would not be my first destination, but I tried several of them. Mindmeister would have been interesting to use when we had a region-wide committee to plan a region-wide Staff Day. We could have all contributed to the same mind map online, which might have led to some very creative ideas.
    I worked on a floorplan in Gliffy. It was interesting, but seemed very limited. I suspect that I didn’t understand how to expand it or have a wider variety of objects. I have to agree with everyone who said that they would need many more hours to master these websites.
    I have enjoyed learning about all of these sites, even the ones that I am unlikely to use again (you never know what you might need to answer a reference question). Very mind-expanding and educational! Thanks for the Learning 2.1 experience!

  32. Frogonablog Says:

    I tried all four and still can not see an efficient reason for these. To use one I had to create yet more accounts. After an hour and a half I finally had three bubbles in and have yet to figure out how how to add a new “twig” to mindmeister. The frustration of trying to make them work is not worth the effort for something that I can’t figure out how it will help me be more efficient in my job. I also have to be at a computer to do these, and that kind of time is very limited for me. I am still stuck in the pencil/ paper and doole age, but I keep trying. Every now and them I find a gem.

  33. AMartin Says:

  34. Mally Says:

    I really like Gliffy. I was able to recreate a room at the library in a very short time. When I am able to I will go back and finish it and have a clearly drawn floorplan.
    I want to spend more time with I think I will be able to make use of it.
    I like the flow chart idea but not sure how I will use it right now.

  35. AmandaW Says:

    I thought that these tools were very nice and easy to use. It was so much better than trying to create any visuals in microsoft word. I can’t see where I would use them all the time, but again- its nice to know they exist.

  36. Janet Says:

    I was happy with the gliffy. Great for making up new house plans or just rearranging. The mind mappy would be no use to me at all. I would go back into gliffy again. I am glad that I have had the opportunity to know about these new websites.

  37. sandyr Says:

    I am not really enthusiastic about either flow charts or mind-maps, but the ones here do seem fairly easy to use, and, as others have said, the floor plan feature of Gliffy is pretty exciting. I can see myself trying that out at some point. Also, I do love to brainstorm, and is so easy to use, that I can see myself trying it out to determine if that way of capturing ideas is preferable to just jotting them down. I would like to see some of these programs demonstrated with examples that are relevant to me, to better determine whether they could convince me that they are worthwhile using.

  38. Jo Says:

    These tools just aren’t my thing, but Mindmeister is OK.
    Check my blog for more:

  39. Jeri Says:

    MindMeister should be great for brainstorming and for working through aspects of a process in efforts to streamline. Pretty easy to create and you have something useable when finished. You could use the same way. Flowcharts was not so easy to use – took lots more thinking than Gliffy which was really easy and has lots of features and options.

  40. Cecelia Robeson Says:

    For my flowchart site, I explored Giffy. It took me some time, as I am spatially challenged. Once I got the hang of it I used it to create a floorplan of my library. The results were very professional looking. I played around with the flowchart feature too, and recommended it to a coworker who had to create one as part of a policy she was writing. It’s so nice to create a flowchart or a floorplan without having to download special software. Only the administrator at our work site can download so some of these sites we’ve explored are very handy for that reason, alone.
    Mind mapping is a new concept for me. I can see the purpose in brainstorming for groups, and the share feature of Mindmeister, the site I explored, encourages and assists groups in doing just that. I recently read an article which discussed the use of mind maps in learning over other traditional techniques, note taking, for example. It seems that mind maps allow us to take advantage “both sides” of our brain functions. I’m not certain if this is true or not, but I was thinking that MindMeister would allow you to recreate those mind map notes and at least reinforce learning and recall. I’m certainly open to exploring this concept further and am grateful for the exposure this exercise provided.

  41. Pam Says:

    I explored Gliffy and I found easy to use and tried brainstorming ideas for National Library Week. Gliffy is very good to use if one would want to rearrange or do a floor plan of a room or library. I think both are effective tools for businesses and managers wanting to give presentations. This is one I plan to bookmark for future use.

  42. rosesmom Says:

    I used to brainstorm about teen program ideas. It was very easy to use and a lot of fun. I also used Gliffy to draw up a floorplan of my workroom. I wish I had seen this before we renovated.

  43. Sherry Dickens Says:

    Giffy is a great site, one of those that can be really fun to work with. I found that the capability of actually sharing with others gives opportunities to enhance and improve whatever idea is being formulated. Being a “visual” person myself, flowcharts or mindmaps have always helped me grasp concepts a little easier than just text. is just as neat as Giffy and I found it easier to use, Giffy will be more user friendly too, I just need to sit and learn to use the tools.

  44. Richard Says:

    I tried the first site, Gliffy and was impressed. It actually made flow charts/mindmaps an interesting tool to play with. Mention flow charts and my eyes glaze over instantly. The ease of Gliffy gives a new perspective to the subject and it could prove to be a valuable tool for staff, especially Department Heads.

  45. lindalu Says:

    Mind maps and flow charts have long been two of my favorite ways to deal with planning and picturing information. I played with Gliffy but might actually have done more with the floorplan part than flowcharts. I did develop a simple flowchart, however, that tracks the steps for printing a pull list from Horizon. Using a site like Gliffy (or similar software) for developing training documents seems like a way to address and to appeal to different learning styles.

    I’m going to be doing a presentation to an AARP group in a couple of weeks, so I used that as my “test” in It was fun to use the mouse, etc., to develop the pieces of my talk, but, in actual practice, I think I might stick with a pencil and/or colored pens. I had to think too much about how to mind map to keep my presentation ideas flowing. Mindmeister and I did not bond!

  46. Carl Emerick Says: was kinda interesting.I liked the ease of moving topic blocks around and arranged a “remedy” line.
    David Byrne (ex Talking Heads) has a fascinating cultural topic flowchart/art book that would be fun to adapt to this,

  47. Regina Spiker Says:

    hmm, not into these – just can’t see me using them, but it was fun to try them….



  48. Maryland Says:

    So far I’ve looked at both mind mapping sites. Maybe if I was brainstorming with a group in real time, as advertised on the site, it would appear more useful to me, otherwise, I don’t think my mind is ripe for mapping. I like the idea of the flow charts and can’t wait for my invitation so I can play with the floor plan. That could come in handy soon!

  49. Janice Says:

    I looked at gliffy and mindmeister. I can see using the flowchart as another way of documenting procedures, say at the circulation desk. A visual decision tree could be a good tool. It would also serve as a good tool to help spot potential conflicts or erroneous procedures. If you can’t get something to “flow” on paper, it probably will cause problems in reality. I wish I was rearranging a room so I could try out the floor plan tool. So much easier than cutting out little bits of graph paper. I’m a list person (despite the fact that I’m always misplacing my lists), so mindmeister sort of seems like lists in the round which could get a little dizzying. Also, I did not grow up in the “team” era of education, so am not used to this sort of collaborative work. I don’t know that I would choose to use mindmeister, but as time goes on I see more and more value to getting group members to collaborate on the web one way or another.

  50. Maryland Says:

    Finally got the chance to take a look at and can’t think of too many reasons to use it. I hate to admit that I would prefer to make a list and scratch through/erase and write in the margins instead of going on a computer and logging in and typing ideas and then wondering next time what I was thinking when I log back in…if I remember to log back in! I’d like to play around with the floorplans, but couldn’t figure out how to turn the shapes and “elements” to make them go the way my building goes, so I got frustrated and logged out. I’ll need to hook up with some of the others and find out how they made those shapes move.

  51. Accidental Librarian Says: was extremely intuitive and easy to use. I am not a great brainstormer on my own, but I can see starting a mind map and having others build on it. In fact we could have used this fairly recently when we were problem-solving at our branch. I really like the idea of being able to manipulate the bubbles or shade them different colors. This would be helpful in organizing the ideas once they are put out there. As for, I had a bit more trouble getting started. Actually had to resort to using the “Help” feature to jump start me. I still did not find it that easy to use, but I may use this application to try to develop a flowchart that would explain to the public how to find books using our catalog.

  52. Bill Bartmann Says:

    Excellent site, keep up the good work

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