Mapping Ideas Online: SpiderScribe

Periodically, I’m hoping to use this blog to share technology tools you can use to support creative thinking–preferably tools that allow you to do so without cost! This is the first such post. Since I’m entering the new technology world of blogging, I want everyone else to have technology adventures, too!

One of the most common tools for creative thinking is brainstorming. Often, the results of brainstorming are recorded in list form, but another effective option is to record your ideas more graphically, often in the form of mind maps. Mind maps can use shape and color, in addition to words, to illustrate the relationships among ideas. This 3-minute video (with the online article) is a good introduction, for those of you who may not be familiar with this process. Mind maps can be used for brainstorming or for organizing content in a way that helps others understand it.

SpiderScribe is a free online tool that allows you to create visual representations of ideas and their links. It isn’t as flexible in creating shapes as a mind map that you draw, but it allows you to upload files, pictures, and maps, in addition to text. One nice thing about SpiderScribe is that it can be shared, so you could record you ideas and send them to a friend (or a lot of friends!) and ask for their additional thoughts. The map is available from anywhere, because it is stored “in the cloud.” The site has just added a print function, so you can also print out your map for later use.

SpiderScribe could be a fine teacher tool, either for your own projects or for presenting content in a way that helps students envision relationships among concepts. Or better yet, have students use SpiderScribe to present their own ideas. Imagine students using SpiderScribe for brainstorming or to illustrate relationships among animals in predator/prey relationships, alliances in a particular historical period, the structure of a story, or any other content in which relationships among concepts are important–and isn’t that pretty much everything?

To learn about SpiderScribe, start by clicking the Video Tour link on the homepage. That will give you a two-minute video introduction. After that, you’re ready to go!

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