Thursday, 23 March 2017

Exploring MindMaps

I'm hoping that some of you who are far more tech savvy than I can weigh in with some helpful hints and suggestions.  Please!

My final assignment in my current online course is to create a mind map for a three chapter document that will be created as the culmination of my doctorate studies.  First, I had to decide what program to use to create the mind map.

I started with Popplet which was suggested by someone who had done this assignment last year.  I had used it just a few weeks ago with a group of Grade 3 students so I had heard of it.  It is visually very appealing and easy to use.  It was easy to insert images which helped reduce the text-heavy appearance of some samples I had seen.  But two major problems:  one, it kept crashing and it would take FOREVER to log back in. Instead it just spun and spun and spun.  Someone suggested I try a different browser and that helped.  It gave me no end of troubles in Safari but worked fine in Chrome.  But secondly, you can't add hyperlinks.  This was a deal breaker for me.

So I tried downloaded the free 30 day trial to try Inspiration.  I had used Kidspiration with students about 15 years ago when I was a learning support teacher and had fond memories of this program.  Again it was user friendly - easy to create the mind map, easy to insert graphics and you can insert hyperlinks.  But, quite frankly, I thought it was ugly.  It looked old and dated.  I'm sure that had I taken even more time and played with it longer maybe I could have made it more visually appealing but Popplet had spoiled me.  Popplet created mind maps that  looked good automatically, so I knew there had to be something better out there.

On to iMindMaps and another free 30 day trial.  It has lots of options but frankly by this time I had used up an entire morning and I really just wanted to get going so I picked out a template I liked and got started.  It looks good, it's easy to use and you can add images, hyperlinks and notes quickly.  I'm sure you can do lots of other things with it as there seems to be an infinite number of buttons and drop down menus.  Some day when I have more time, I'll explore all of those but right now I just want to finish my assignment on time.

So I've finished the mind maps for Chapter 1 and 2 and I'm hoping to finish Chapter 3 soon. But now what?  My free 30 day trial runs out shortly and then what?  It won't let me save it as anything else so in 30 days I have to pay up or lose access to my work?  I can't print it out - it's too tiny.  I've tried zooming in on sections but it's still small and it would take a whole day to zoom, cut, paste, etc.   I appreciate that this task has helped me to think about my work differently and notice connections that I hadn't seen before.  But is there a way to create a more useable document than this finished product?  Those of you who use mind maps, how do you move on from a digital format?  Or do you?

Some of my colleagues in this same class are using other programs.  One is using Popplet and has had problems with freezing and lost work.  One is using Prezi, and another abandoned the idea of electronics after spending a day exploring different programs and is using coloured pencils and paper.  I think in the future I would probably use mind maps again to help organize my work but I'm still a linear sequential, list making girl at heart.

Chapter 1 & 2 done; Chapter 3 in progress

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