Three Tools for Creating your Mind Maps

Impressions about MindManager, FreeMind and CMapTools

I have not tried these tools before, neither their computer version nor the mobile one. However, in order to learn a little bit about them, I have downloaded them to my mobile and I have worked with them during this week. These are my impressions about them:

  • MindManager:

This tool has more than one million downloads and a score of 4 points out of 5 in Google Play. Nowadays it is one of the best values tool for mind maps. However, there are many comments on the net that say that Mindjet doesn’t goes very well when working with the mobile version. It seems that there are some problems with the templates and the synchronization with Dropbox.

My experience is that it is a very intuitive app. I found it simpler than the computer version and it is faster to learn. You can create a simple map in just 5 minutes.

Mind

However, when I try to recuperate the project that I have written before with the normal version, there were many problems. It spent a lot of time, and when I got to open it, it was all wrong. The connections weren’t correct, the colours had changed and everything was a mess. There were warnings saying that some features are only supported on Mindjet Web accounts.

MINDJET

So, I coincide with the comments I read: the mobile version, although simpler, it’s not good when opening Dropbox files.

  • FreeMind:

Freemind is an open source mind mapping tool built in Java, and is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It has a wide variety of features, including location-based mind mapping, collaboration tools, restore session support and more.

It can be used to keep track of projects as a knowledge base, and as a powerful mind mapping tool for complex diagrams with numerous branches, including embedded links and multimedia. You can export your map as HTML, PDF, OpenDocument, SVG or PNG. FreeMind auto-layout makes searching clean and useable.

First, I downloaded the computer version http://sourceforge.net/projects/freemind/files/freemind/1.0.1/FreeMind-Windows-Installer-1.0.1-max.exe/download?use_mirror=netcologne&download=

Then I made a simple map about some of the databases that appears in unit 2 and exported to other formats: .jpg, .pdf…

When I downloaded the mobile version I have some difficulties. The first one was that in Google Play there were two apps available: FreMind Reader and FreeMind Viewer Free. I tried the first one. I accessed my Dropbox (you can also use your Drive), selected the file and I could see it in my phone. This app is used only to visualize.

FreeMind.jpg

After that, I downloaded the second app. This app is used to create your maps, but it is very simple. I hasn’t got many options although it is easy to learn.

The worst part of all: it is full of advertisements (as you can see in the pictures I attach).

  • CMapTools:

I downloaded this tool and started to try it. One of the things that I like is that I could access to many models that people share on the net. This way it is easy for me to have a global vision about the kinds of maps that you can create.  You can also share your maps and upload them to the Cloud, and other platforms.

CMapTools.jpg

The difference with respect to other tools is that you can add web links, so it is more useful because you can access directly to those resources easily and from wherever you are. It is simple to use. However, I could not find a mobile version. When I tried to download this tool it always said that it was not possible to open the file. It seems that this app is only available for Windows Mac, Linux and Solaris, not for Android.

Now it is your turn to decide. Which one do you prefer? Do you know other tools? Thank you in advance for sharig your comments.

Best Platforms to Create a Blog for Your Class

Blogs have become one of the most used tools among teachers. They have many benefits for teachers, students and their families. If you are planning to create a blog for your class, here is a compilation of platforms that you can use.

Not only blogs, but also webpages. This is what Weebly offers. It uses a simple widget-based site builder that you operate in the web browser. All the elements are drag-and-drop so it is really easy to configure. This tool generates also a mobile version of your blog automatically.

You can have your personal domain by paying an annual fee. If not, the default domain is .weebly.com

Storage through Weebly is unlimited. However, the service restricts individual file sizes.

By using education.weebly.com you can administer your students’ accounts, create online tasks and inform their parents.

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Easy, safe and secure. It allows you easily create & manage student and teacher blogs, quickly customize designs and include videos, photos & podcasts.

However, if you want to manage your students’ accounts you have to upgrade to a “pro” version. This has a cost of about 40$ per year. This “pro” version also allows you to have multiple authors, which is forbidden with the free account.

It is a shame that the free version offers so little: you cannot neither include videos nor custom HTML to embed items into posts. You are allotted a free space of 32.00 MB.

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If you are not an expert, this is one of the simplest platform and it is absolutely free. In less than 15 minutes you can create your first post by using some of their templates. If you don’t like any of them, you can download millions of free templates that are on the net and adapt them to your necessities.

It supports 100 users, so you can have many publishers: colleagues, friends, students’ families… And it is possible to have a mobile version too.

It hasn’t got any advertisement, although if you want to insert them the only thing you have to do is to create an account on Google Adsense and generate the kind of ads you want to show. But… don’t expect to be rich instantly.

The price of having your own domain is about 15$ per year.

blogger

It is one of the most popular blogging platforms nowadays. This is a little more complicated than the previous one but it has plenty of options. When you sign up you can set up the blog on your own server or on a WordPress-hosted blog. The number of array of configurations is so big that you may be lost at first, but after watching some tutorials and examples it is easy to manage too.

It supports multiple authors and you can use your own domain by paying around 25$ per year.

Unfortunately, if you want to remove the ads that appear on your blog, it is necessary to pay a fee and, even if you want to have them, it is very difficult to obtain any money for publicity.

índice

 

 Now, take your time and start to publish!

 María Pérez Navarro

Advantages of Using Blogs for Teaching

Blogs had a great potential for students learning when tasks are developed to align with course objectives. A blog allows anyone (from pre-primary to post-graduates) to publish information online. Pupils use technology constantly so why not use this in our favor? Let’s see some their advantages!

  1. Writing skills improvement: students (and people in general) write better if they know that someone is going to read what they are creating. Blogs allow us to write to an authentic audience, even bigger than we could think. Our articles can be read all over the world and this creates great expectations. Students pay more attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation because they know it. Teachers, friends, family, other people around the world can see our creations.
  2. Anytime, anywhere: there are not frontiers. Internet accesses allow pupils to engage with other students and teachers instantly, so they have the chance to discuss questions as they arise providing significant learning. Furthermore, we can access to this knowledge whenever we want. It is always available.
  3. Reflection time: as we have this availability we also have plenty of time to sit down, write and reflect on what we have learned while learning to create an emotional connection to that information. Instead of putting contents into our brains (as if into a bin) we can relax, think about our learning and establish meaningful connections.
  4. A place for everyone: if we think about it, we can always remember the typical shy boy/girl who sat at the other side of the classroom, as if hiding himself from the teacher. Blogs break this kind of barrier allowing students to communicate their inner thoughts and maybe we get astonish when a student who never wants to participate in our activities, writes in our blog and expresses himself/herself. This is a great opportunity to know them more and a starting point to practice social skills.
  5. Creativity: a blog is a great tool for improving our creativity and personal iniciative. As part of our reflection we can create things using other tools (videos, podcasts, pictures…).
  6. People learning from other people: we can share our ideas, feelings, questions, experiences… to others. Students can add to and edit content written by each other. They can communicate and receive feedback almost instantaneously. They are no longer confined to a class groupings or techers within a classroom. Maybe a student from New Zealand can solve our doubts. Our audience: the entire world. This may result in a net of interconnected knowledge with no geographical borders.
  7. Parents’ availability: each year more and more parents are not available to attend the school meetings because they work full-time. Blogs helps them to see what their children are doing in class, so they can bridge the gap in the home school connection.
  8. Motivation: all these reasons motivate our students a lot. Using ICT in class generates expectations and a great feeling of innovation. Our pupils have fun with this kind of activities while learning without even noticing.
  9. Interconnected knowledge: art, technological skills, writing skills, maths, geography, foreign languages… we can work on every subject and even integrating them.

Do you know more advantages of blogging for teaching? Then make a comment. I would really appreciate it.

María Pérez Navarro.