do you map your ideas?

Overheard recommendations about mind-mapping software on a mailing list today, and it made me wonder how you might use such software in your teaching or planning. In my last post, I suggested pencil and paper technology, and you could still create maps of ideas on paper, but I suggest that once you try mapping software, you will like what you find, and it might inspire you in your planning, or even in your teaching assignments.

There are many mind mapping tools, both free and costly, available as web-based tools or mobile apps or as proprietary software to download. Here are a few lists collected and reviewed by users:

And here’s a brief discussion of how to use them in teaching and learning:

The graphic above was created on the iPad using iThoughtsHD ($9.99 at the iTunes Store). I created it in a few minutes, playing around briefly with the colors and structure and notes feature. Here’s the company video that quickly shows how easy it is to use. Ease of use, of course, has to be the number one feature, because you don’t want software made to map your thinking to interfere with that thinking.

Teaching ideas:

  • create a map of your course objectives and assignments, showing the relationship between them
  • create a map of the components of of a single, complex assignment, showing not only the order in which they should be completed, but the relationship between the stages
  • create a map of concepts related to a course reading to complement the reading, not to substitute for it (see my map of paragraph patterns below)
  • have students use mapping software to map out an essay instead of a traditional outline–yes it accomplishes the same thing, but may foster better organizing and revising with the drag and drop feature, as well as because of the visual nature of the map

Here’s a recent map, made on a Mac with XMind. The map complements a textbook reading assignment on paragraph patterns and is meant to serve as a visual outline of the chapter that points out reasons for choosing one or another pattern in one’s writing. It would be even better if students were making such a reading resource on their own, individually or in collaboration.


Categories: cognition, collaboration, learning, learning styles, online learning, technology

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