Mindmaps or concept maps are a good way to visualize your thoughts around a certain topic. Creating an anchor for the topic and then adding additional bubbles to that topic for added content provides a means to see your information. However, until webtools were created to help you with these maps, it was hard to reorganize those thoughts on paper. Now there are several resources available that allow you to customize what you want in your mindmaps and reorganize them at will. I will show you brief examples from different mapping tools and then we can share about which ones you like and how you can use them in class. Most of the resources have limited free versions, but the first two resources are either totally free (bubbl.us), or you have virtually unlimited use of the free resource (InstaGrok).
Bubbl.us (free flowing – no cost)
Bubble us is a tool we have featured before. As a matter of fact it was our second post the first year of the challenge, but in researching other mapping tools that are available, this one still offers the most functionality for zero cost! You don’t even have to create an account to use it, but you will of course if you want to save your maps online. Simply navigate to the website @ bubbl.us and start your mindmap. The editor is very simple to use and get started with. If you find another totally free mind-mapping resource out there that compares with this one, please let us know!
InstaGrok (Content pre-loaded, free for unlimited use of most features)
I really like instagrok because you start with pre-loaded content for a topic. To create a Grok, you just search for a topic, and then pin in the content you want to share. They are free for most features, and there is no limit to the number of Grok’s you can share. While it isn’t a free-flowing brainstorming tool, it does give you a great way to put content knowledge into the hands of your students in a nice interactive way. Again, content is preloaded with images, videos, websites, reference material and even formative quizzes, you just pin the stuff you want to share. While I also haven’t searched every topic, there seems to be plenty of content. You can also choose the difficulty of the content with a slider bar. I used “biomes” as a sample topic and was very pleased with what I found.
MindMeister (Great for collaborative mapping)
Mindmeister is a great modern mapping resource that has iOS and Android apps to match. These maps are collaborative which makes them great for class use. Click on the map to try out the collaborative mapping feature… There is a simple history on all maps that allows you to revert to a previous copy at any time or to play through the creation in a timeline. You can integrate your Google drive to Mindmeister and have your maps appear in your drive for cloud storage and sharing as well. There is also a guided presentation mode that looks very similar to Prezi’s zooming presentation format. The limiting factor on MindMeister is that you only get 3 free maps then you have to pay for a monthly subscription (which gives you unlimited maps) for as little as $1/month.