Wednesday, November 18, 2009

FreeMind in the Classroom

Over the past few days, in my classroom, we have been discussing different ways in which to study information. I introduced my students to concept mapping or mind-mapping.

I had been introduced to Inspiration, by Inspiration Software, a few years ago. I thought it was a pretty interesting program but I did not spend any time using it. I felt that I knew the features of the program, though I did not understand the potential of how it could change the classroom. Later, I came across an Open Source version called FreeMind which can be downloaded from My students and I watched a video on mind-mapping the other day and so I installed this software on all of the computers in the lab. Today the students were introduced to the software and asked to make a map or multiple maps of the three sections from their science chapter that we just finished. They picked up the program pretty quickly after showing them only a few features in the program.

I demonstrated the following features to them in the classroom and then let them loose.
  • Insert key: add a new child not or branch connected to the parent.
  • Shift-enter: add a sibling node or branch that is connected to the same node as as the node selected.
  • Changing the text in a node
  • Right click to access properties such as style and formating.
In my research to relocate this program I did find another program that has some potential called XMind. Both programs are platform independent (Java), open source, and free. I believe each of them have their different strengths and weaknesses. I will be introducing my students to XMind at another point in time at which I will write a quick review about how well it worked.