Popples made by Popplet

Mind Mapping is a powerful technique to visualize thoughts and summarize knowledge.

Toni Buzan, often seen as the inventor of mind mapping (although this technique can be found already some hundred years ago; see below) set these guidelines:

  • 01 Start in the center with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colors.
  • 02 Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your mind map.
  • 03 Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters.
  • 04 Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line.
  • 05 The lines should be connected, starting from the central image. The central lines are thicker, organic and thinner as they radiate out from the centre.
  • 06 Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support.
  • 07 Use multiple colors throughout the mind map, for visual stimulation and also to encode or group.
  • 08 Develop your own personal style of mind mapping.
  • 09 Use emphasis and show associations in your mind map.
  • 10 Keep the mind map clear by using radial hierarchy, numerical order or outlines to embrace your branches.

With these guidelines a mind map might look like this:


Early beginnings …

Others don’t see Tony Buzan as the inventor of mind mapping and verify their opinion by mind maps found hundreds of years ago. See

Roots of visual mapping

for more information.

This impressive overview from Porphyry of Tyre in 3rd century C.E. to the legendary BBC TV series by Tony Buzan in 1974 shows us:

The devices changed from a pen to a computer but the basic idea to connect topics like cells are connected by nerves remained the same.

With the introduction of Apple’s iPad in 2010 Steve Jobs gave us a device which solely can be controlled with our hands. So using a mind mapping tool on the iPad is like a rebirth of the old handcrafted mind maps.

The impact of mind mapping on many parts of our life is massive although there is still a lot of work to do in some countries when it comes to an integration of this technique in everyday learning in schools.

The app Popplet …

Popplet by Notion Inc, USA, uses a very unique and funny user interface for mind mapping. With large idea boxes so-called Popples. Text, drawings, and photos can be easily added to map diagram. Popples can be resized and added with very touch-friendly gestures. Finished Popplet diagrams can also be exported by E-Mail as PDF or JPEG or saved to the camera roll.

There is no cloud connection available and because of limited export formats Popplets cannot be transferred from one to another iOS device.

Reviews and announcements I fond in the internet talk about this app as a suitable tool for pupils.

I have a different opinion. If pupils cannot share there work seamlessly (except in a file format which cannot be edited by the recipient) it’s old fashioned and definitely not in line with modern pedagogical requirements.

There is just one possibilty to collaborate.

Online popplets …

The Home Screen of the app offers two registers:

iPad and Online

For online popplets you have to sign up and the get 5 free popplets that you can access from your iOS device and via web browser on popplet.com.

The developer says:
Online popplets can be shared and published and let you collaborate with others in real time.


But within Apple’s ecosystem it doesn’t work because Flash has to be installed if you want to use Apple’s browser Safari.

Features …

Here is a mind map with a full feature description of Popplet created with the app itself.


Benefits …

Possible learning targets for younger children:

  • using a touch screen
  • summarizing in a hierarchical structure
  • organizing thoughts about a topic e.g.
    • people I know and categorizing them
    • about me poplett birthdate and birthplace, hobbies, close friends (with photos), subjects of interest
  • Link lines can be set everywhere. That means -in contrast to traditional mind mapping tools- with Popplet so-called concept maps can be created.
  • Popples may overlap.
    This is a nice feature which can be used for enumerations to reduce space.

Disadvantages …

There are some disadvantages regarding rearranging of popplets.

  • If you want to insert a popplet in an already created structure you first have to delete the surrounding connections, reposition the popplets, insert the new popplet, and then set the new connections.
  • There is no ‘Undo’ available. If you delete a popplet it’s moved into inaccessible part of your device’s memory. Hard luck!
  • When zooming in characters get blurry.
  • When editing text on the iPad or iPhone neither the magnifier of iOS nor a cursor is shown.
  • If you move a popple to another position sub-popples remain at their position and must be repositioned manually. Fortunately there is a gesture (Two-Finger-Tap) which allows multi-select and reposition all selected objects in total.
  • Popplets created locally cannot be transferred to the online storage (says the developer). However there is a simple way to do so by
    selecting all popples, using the taskbar command ‘Copy’ and paste all objects into a locally or online created new popplet.

Summary …

Popplet is extremely easy to use because of strong limitations of it’s features.
I’m not quite sure if these limitations aren’t too strong and whether it wouldn’t be better to invest in a more powerful mind mapping tool.
Even very young people will recognize the app’s limits after a short time. So I think it can be recommended to invest in a more powerful mind mapping tool to use it over a long time which allows continuous improvements of the mind mapping technique of it’s users.

Anyway it was funny to use this app and because of it’s limitations to focus on contents.

Recommendation …

Start with the free version of Popplet (Popplet Lite) and try it out.
Popplet Lite is limited to just one popplet.

Related links …

Popplets in Education

Using Popplet in Your Classroom

iPad @ Universities

iPad @ School

Remarks to Mind Mapping

Sharing is highly appreciated.
Thanks a lot for dropping by.