Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tech Tip 8/21

Happy 1st day of school! As we go into this year I will be sending out Technology Tips on a pretty regular basis (a few times a week). Some of these will be cool websites or tools you can use. Most will be helpers or ideas for the classroom. Every so often they may just be good stuff to know. Either way you can be assured that I will be delivering a daily dose of geekiness. Past tech tips will be available at my blog.
Here is your first installment...
I want to introduce you to a couple of concept-mapping sites. Both of these sites allow you and your students to build mind-maps which take large difficult concepts and break them down into smaller manageable pieces. Here are some websites that have great examples or discussion:
Anyway back to the cool tools...
The 2 most popular sites for concept mapping are
Here are my reviews:
If the incredibly unique URL didn't tip you off, this site is oozing with creativity.
You can do these things with it (from their site):
  • Create colorful mind maps online
  • Share and work with friends
  • Embed your mind map in your blog or website
  • Email and print your mind map
  • Save your mind map as an image
So, you can quickly outline a concept and share it with your class as an image on your website, or project it up in the class, or even print it out. Even better, you can have students working real time on different computers collaborating on a concept-map. It even supports 207's new language courses and recognizes Chinese character sets.
Mindmeister isn't as artsy - but don't let that burst your bubble (he-he). Here is their pitch:

Users can create, manage and share mind maps online and access them anytime, from anywhere. In brainstorming mode, fellow MindMeister's from around the world (or just in different rooms) can simultaneously work on the same mind map - and see each other's changes as they happen. Using integrated Skype calls, they can throw around new ideas and put them down on "paper" at the same time.

It is very similar to bubbl.us except it also integrates Skype. Which is an on-line Voice-over-IP (VOIP) service. So people creating a mind map can discuss it as they create it. Very cool if students leave and go separate directions while working on a map together (or if you are teaming up with a class somewhere in South Africa)!

Well there you go - first tip. Look for more to come. Hopefully somewhere down the line I will offer up something you can use.