i3: reflection on Week 4.

We were asked to respond to the following prompts:

  • Post a reflection to your blog regarding both the resource and activity you added to your course.
  • Also reflect upon the readings and podcasts for this week. How will the ideas you’ve explored influence your teaching?

I’ll respond to the first one in this post, and save the second one for another post.

In an earlier reflection from an earlier week, I said:

“… there were three things that I will remember from the week. The most important was finding the mindmapping Web 2.0 tool. I hope that will be something I’ll be using a lot in future courses.”

This week I explored the mindmapping tool further. Mostly it was frustrating.

To begin with, the class I am using for the assignment is going to have to be massively rewritten and redesigned in the next 7 days (well, just written and designed, really, since it’s basically barely started). I don’t really know yet what activities and resources I really want to put into the course, so I chose the mindmapping tool on the basis that a) it is likely to be useful in the course somewhere, and b) it’s something I want to know more about, and c) it was likely to be a little challenging to use it.

There are two different ways I want to use mindmapping, potentially. The first is as a lecture tool, i.e., to create a diagram for my students. For this, I used Mindomo. The free version of Mindomo doesn’t allow me to export a mind map, but it does generate code I can use to embed it into a web page. So I created the map on the Mindomo website and copied the code into a web page resource on Moodle. I had to switch to html mode and just figure out by trial and error where it should go. It works enough for now, but I would rather make it fill the window when students open it up.

Moodle has its own mindmapping tool available as an activity, and that’s what I used for my activity in this assignment.

The Moodle mindmapper is a lot more limited than the Mindomo one. I found that out by experience because at first I tried to use the Moodle mindmapper to generate the mind map for my resource. It has minimal help (clicking on the question mark for the activity produce a message saying it couldn’t find a help file for it). It didn’t let me change the positioning of the lines in the diagram. I couldn’t add additional relationships between widely separated entries in the map. I couldn’t figure out how to save or copy the map that resulted.

So I tried something else with the Moodle mindmapper. I created an editable mindmap. The idea is to let students build their own. I’m not at all sure that what I ended up with is the right way to go about things. I basically added a label about the activity giving a one-sentence instruction for students (I could find no way to put instructions into the mind map activity itself). Then I simply left the blank, editable mindmap in place for students to use.

That’s all I did for now. I’m not really done though. What I need to do is figure out how this works from the student’s point of view. Can they edit the mind map and save it? Will there be enough documentation for them to figure out how to use it, or do I need to create a document of video to show them how? There must be something already available somewhere, I suppose. Can more than one student share the mindmap and collaborate on editing it? I think that is what will happen by default, but I suppose it’s possible that every student gets their own copy. I think I have to have two different demo students in my course before I can test that. In any case, I would want to give them a lot more guidance before having them create their own mindmap. I still think it’s a worthwhile idea, but at this point it seems like it would be overly confusing for them.

A final note: I am only using some of the capabilities of mind maps at this point. The wikipedia page for mindmapping cites Tony Buzan   as suggesting that mind maps use color and icons to make things clearer, something I haven’t done.

(The wikipedia page is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map, but its citation for Buzan’s comment is missing, although it probably comes from this:

Buzan, Tony. (2000). The Mind Map Book, Penguin Books, 1996. ISBN 978-0452273221

which is included in the bibliography at the bottom of the page.)

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