Friday, March 28, 2008

Journal #6: Collaborative Idea (Concept) Mapping

In collaborative Idea Mapping students and teachers use web based and often open source technologies to create computerized concept maps. Concept maps are a way of representing or organizing knowledge visually. They represent how the creator or creators thinks about a subject, topic, etc. Concept or Idea maps can be used to help kids understand how certain topics in a subject area are related to each other, or help them organize their thoughts about a certain topic. They can also help them educators communicate complex information to their students visually, which allows them to better reach English language learners and children who have trouble with reading and writing. Idea maps are also a good tool for brainstorming. Traditionally kids drew concept maps on paper and individually. But with websites such as and students can create computerized idea maps that are interactive, creative and continually evolving. Moreover because the programs are web based, free, and allow users to create buddy lists and invite collaborators, students can work together with their peers, ask for advice and feedback on their ideas and evaluate the work of others.

In the discussions about Collaborative Idea Mapping on the Classrom2.0 website, educators mentioned several advantages of using web based technologies for concept mapping. One teacher talked about how much easier it was to get his students excited about the activities when they could use interactive software that included explosions, moving pictures, funny noises, and so on. Another educator talked how nice it is to be able to use free open source software instead of expensive software such Kidspiration and Inspiration. Another teacher talked about how collaborative idea mapping facilitates distance and online learning at both the college and high school levels. She talked about she includes links to online concept maps in her online chemistry class. This same teacher mentioned how having continual access to her students’ idea maps allows her to evaluate how well they understand the material she teaches them, and if there are misunderstandings, to pinpoint where exactly they are occurring. Overall, Collaborative Idea Mapping seems like a great tool and I am eager to learn more about.


Maria said...

Good definition of mapping. It is so cool that kids can do this on the computer now. I can remember drawing similar things in school. It is awesome that students can collaborate on their maps with their peers. I really liked the idea that you gave about using mapping as a visual for complex information.
- Maria