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tools for mapping

For the last couple of years, I've been pushing CMap to anyone who'll listen. A concept mapping tool, CMap is a fairly easy tool to pick up and use, it's free, and it's available in a rainbow of OS flavors. I've found better tools, but often, they're OS restricted, or they cost money.

In the past couple of days, though, I've seen a couple of different entries over at LifeDev on concept mapping (or mind mapping) tools that have shaken my faith in CMap. Exhibit 1: Bubbl.us:


Bubbl.us is quick and easy to use, with minimal cognitive overhead. Really. If I wanted someone to experiment with concept or mind mapping, and didn't want to spend any time on the software itself, it'd be hard to go wrong with this option.

Exhibit 2: Thinkature:


Thinkature is a more complicated app, to be sure, but a couple of points worth making. First, the interface is a lot more flexible, and includes things like being able to upload images and to write directly on the surface, like a whiteboard. Plus, and this is the biggie, it allows for real-time collaboration. I'm not exaggerating when I say this feature opened up all sorts of possibilities in my teaching mind.

Again, there may be tools that are better out there, but free and online? Not that I've seen so far. So if you're a c-mapper, give these a test drive, and see what you think...

(LifeDev on bubbl.us and thinkature)


Cool! I've been recommending CMap, too, totally based on your recommendation, but have to admit to finding it slightly unwieldy. So, yay! More choices.

this ties in nicely with some of the prewriting strategies we've been discussing and applying in WRT 331. i'll be sure to forward this entry to my students -- thanks collin.

Thanks for sharing this. I checked out both of those sites and I'm in love. They seem like great resources.


I've been using Inspiration (which does cost money, but hey, my school paid for it), but these programs look stupendous. I can see all kinds of possibilities for Thinkature. I can't wait to try them with my students.


Maybe I'm a dummy, but I'm not finding Bubbl.us easy to use at all. Cmap is easy, but I don't like the fact that you have to put some text in the middle of every arrow connecting one bubble to another. I haven't figured out if there's a way to turn that off.

Yeah, the arrow thing is one of the parts of CMap that really got on my nerves after a while. I ended up having to touch up maps in Photoshop...

I didn't find Bubbl.us that tough to use, but there are parts of it as well (bubble sizing) that I'd change if I could.

I'm probably going to give Thinkature a real go, next time I do something that needs some concept mapping...


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