Looking for an online brainstorming tool? bubbl.us could be the answer.

The bubbl.us website says you can:

  • 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
  • bubbl.us is ideal for student collaboration and as the mind maps can be simply saved, printed or embedded into blogs, etc. students can include their brainstorming and planning in their assignment submission.

    An encouraging comment from a teacher via the bubbl.us blog:

               Ben Davis describes how Bubbl.us helped his students to network.

    Typically I have trouble getting them to get excited about word webs. However, they were VERY excited about doing this. The guys loved how the bubbles exploded when you deleted them, and the girls loved the colors. However, the thing they seemed most interested in was the fact that they could network.”

    Julie Squires of Casey Grammar also uses bubbl.us. with her VCE students (thanks Julie for alerting Bright Ideas to bubbl.us) and her use of it and other tools will be featured shortly.

    Text 2 Mind Map

    Text 2 Mind Map is a very simple and easy way to use Mind Maps in the classroom and you certainly don’t have to have a degree in astrophysics or brain surgery to complete a good map quickly.

    You don’t have to sign up a for an account, just go to the Text 2 Mind Map homepage, delete the example in the text outline box on the left hand side of the page


    and away you go. Type in your ideas, using the tab key to indent sub-topics. When you have listed all of your ideas, simply click the ‘Convert to Mind Map’ button. Here is an example that took five minutes to complete.

    The right hand side of the screen gives you choices as to the size and colour of the font, the thickness of the lines joining ideas and the colours of the idea boxes.

    You are given the option to save your map, but be careful if your browser doesn’t allow pop-ups as you may lose your map. You could always copy the map using Jing or even Paint before you try to save it.

    Text 2 Mind Map is still very much under construction, so if you do use it, please do send feedback to the developers so that they can take your comments and ideas on board.

    CMap tools

    CMap tools is a free Web 2.0 tool that helps users create, navigate, share and critique concept/mind maps. The Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) have developed this program and encourage users involved in education to download to as many computers as they wish (for free).  A university affiliated research institute, IHMC is a not for profit organisation administered by Florida University System and is affiliated with several Florida universities.

    CMap tools home
    CMap tools home

    Concept or mind maps have been popular for a while now, and being able to work collaboratively on them is a bonus. The ability to access the saved maps of others is a terrific teaching and learning tool. Students can critique completed maps and understand what is required of a great map before they begin.

    Information on the IHMC website says:

    • IHMC faculty and staff collaborate extensively with industry and government to develop science and technology that can be enabling with respect to society’s broader goals. IHMC researchers receive funding (current funding in force exceeds $22,000,000) from a wide range of government and private sources. IHMC research partners have included: DARPA, NSF, NASA, Army, Navy, Air Force, NIMA, NIH, DOT, IDEO, Nokia, Sun Microsystems, Fujitsu, Procter & Gamble, Boeing, Lockheed, SAIC, and IBM among others.

    Sounds impressive. You do have to download the program, which takes about 50 minutes. That is a problem for schools, but if your IT people can download it to a server and install an icon on desktops, that solves a few problems.

    HTC library

    HTC library

    When trying to find maps that have been uploaded by other users, rather than use the ‘Shared CMaps in Places’, it is easier to go to ‘tools’ then ‘search’ and type in what you are looking for. Refine your search by selecting ‘Select resource types to return’ and click on concept maps. Otherwise a list of other resources will appear.

    Some people may remember the program entitled Inspiration that came on CD Rom. CMap tools seems to be the Web 2.0 version of that. Why don’t you have a play and when you feel confident, give it a go with your students? There are a number of Youtube videos to show you how to use CMap tools, Creating concepts and propositionsIntroduction to the views window  and Adding resources are just a few. They are great visual aids to assist you (and your students) when starting to use CMap tools.

    Please submit comments if you do use CMap tools.