Collaborative Concept Mapping
I noticed that my last few posts have been focused almost entirely on Science, so I thought it was time to write about processing and mapping skills that work across disciplines. I have to thank Kevin Clark, an instructional technologist who works for our local REMC, for blogging about a fantastic new tool for allowing users to work collaboratively on a concept map from different computers, and share them online.
Gliffy is everything a concept mapping tool should be, and doesn’t require money or a download in order to use. Users can make concept maps, flow charts, floor plans, network diagrams, and just about any other simple diagram or chart you can imagine. It lets you place and resize almost as many shapes, objects, text, and connections between objects as Microsoft Publisher or Inspiration. It lets you write within the objects, or place text boxes around the work space, and allows you to make dynamic connections between objects that can be labeled and change position and shape as needed when dragging connected shapes around the workspace. The best feature by far though is being able to collaborate on a project with others. All projects are saved online, and when looking to share with others you are given a prompt asking for the collaborators’ e-mails. They receive an invitation and a link to follow so that they can work on the project (online of course) alongside each other in order to improve productivity and/or revise and edit a project together.
While I haven’t had enough time to devise a project for my students using Gliffy, I have created a crude flow map of the Blogging Process, which I have included below. Students could use the tool to create collaborative concept maps in science, create flow charts to show various methods of solving a single type of mathematics equation, or use it as a pre-writing tool to storyboard and outline a project. Charts and projects can also be shared as images (like the one below) both on the Gliffy website, or as embedded objects (the process was incredily easy, and followed a simple few step-by-step clicks). Gliffy is free for now (it apparently uses advertisements when sharing work with others), but even if they started charging a nominal fee it’s collaborative and online saving abilities would easily place it above Insipration and other concept mapping tools as far as it being a useful tool in the classroom.