14 Free Tech Tools for Brainstorming

Trying to come up with a great idea for your final paper or presentation? Why not do a little brainstorming with the help of some high-tech tools? There are some really great sites and apps out there that can help you bring together your ideas, work with others, organize your research, and turn a tiny idea into a fully-fleshed out final product.

Here are a few to consider as you’re heading into the home stretch of your semester.

BoardThing Want to keep your brainstorming tools as minimalistic as possible? This app might be right up you alley. It allows you to create digital “cards” which can be used to organize your thoughts into groups—keeping things very simple while making it easy to share or collaborate at the same time.

Bubbl.us This web-based mind mapping tool allows you to easily build a complex map of your ideas then to share it with others, convert it to an image, or even create a presentation based around it. Even better, you can access it on any device.

Coggle For those who want mind maps that are visually appealing AND make it incredibly simple to collaborate, Coggle can be a smart choice. Sign up for a free account and get unlimited public diagrams and access to real-time collaboration tools.

FreeMind Whether you need basic mind mapping or a more in-depth productivity tool, this Java-based program can help. While it has a very simple interface, it can help you more easily organize even complex projects.

Freeplane Champions of open source will love this free and open option for mind-mapping and brainstorming. You can use it to take notes, generate topics for projects, or organize your research.

GoogleDocs Strictly speaking, GoogleDocs isn’t branded as a brainstorming tool, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it as one. Because it’s easy to share and collaborate, it’s great for group work and since it’s all in the cloud, you can access your information from anywhere.

Lucidchart Need your brainstorming to take on a more technical  look? This site specializes in flowchart diagramming, making it a great tool for students of engineering, programming, and design.

Mind42 With Mind42 you can create mind maps and to-do lists, which can be a big help when the semester is winding down.

MindMaple Designed to mimic the branches of a tree, this mind-mapping tool offers support on any platform and has built-in collaboration features to make it easy to work together.

Popplet Love to think up ideas on your tablet? This handy brainstorming tool can help. While the app download costs money ($4.99), you can use the service for free in your browser.

Sketchboard.io If you’d rather have free reign to sketch out your ideas, try out this team sketching and diagramming site. Acting as an online whiteboard, it gives you complete freedom in how you lay things out and also makes it possible to get immediate feedback on your ideas.

WiseMapping Simply log in to this site and you can begin creating vector-based mind maps that you can embed, share, or work on collaboratively.

Visual Understanding Environment (VUE) Another open source tool, this time coming from Tufts University, VUE provides “a flexible visual environment for structuring, presenting, and sharing digital information.”

XMind While there is a pay version of this tool, all the basic features are available in the free, downloadable version. With it, you’ll be able to easily organize your ideas and then export them in a variety of formats.

Have a great techie brainstorming solution you like to use? Share it in the comments and we’ll add it to the list.