Friday, February 13, 2009

Possible Mind Mapping Tool

Many teachers enjoy the use of mind mapping exercises in their classrooms. Here is a very sharp looking tool that is free and very easy to use. I really like the potential this has for students to use in a project for either online or brick and mortar classes.

The tool is called Lovely Charts and while I find the name makes me feel awkward as I use it and talk about it, the charts it makes are pretty nice.

diagram

This is an example of a small chart that I threw together in just a few moments and I like the way that it looks. There are lots of icons that can be used for flowcharts, wireframes, sitemaps, and other diagrams. I think this could easily be used for a mind mapping tool given the basic symbols and the very easy addition of arrows to the project. Sizing and placement of the items on the screen is very easy. You can save your work and you can also export the diagrams as JPG or PNG files.

I think that it is worth checking out. What types of ideas do you have about how this could work in your classes? I look forward to your thoughts.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Google Docs

I really enjoy the use of Google Docs for collaborative projects. I recently had my students this semester do their first project using it. It was a very simple project that simply asked them to work together to fill in a chart. The ease of the assignment was planned as part of the goal was to introduce them to Google Docs which none of them had heard of before. As they become more proficient with the tool, the projects will become more involved.

Initial feedback from the students was positive. They enjoyed being able to work together in that way even though their respective schools were more than 2 hours apart. I also assigned different colors for the students to use when editing the document so that it was easy to tell with just a glance who contributed what. This was something that they also appreciated.

At first, it is a small challenge to restrain from doing all the work and letting others do some. I have had to have students in the past go back in and delete some things so that others in the class would have an opportunity to contribute. As time moves on, the students become more comfortable and I think they feel a sense of responsibility not to let the others down since it is easily visible who is putting forth their fair share. It is a new and needed experience for the students to work together in this way.

Does anyone have any stories about how they have used Google Docs in the classroom? I would be interested to know what you have done with it.